Earlier this week, we reported that Forsyth County, N.C. District Attorney Tom Keith was being called on to resign after a newspaper quoted him as saying blacks were were instinctively more prone to violence than whites.

It turns out Keith was misquoted -- but some community leaders who called for his resignation are still none too happy with what he actually said.



In an interview published in the Aug. 26 issue of Greensboro, N.C.'s Yes! Weekly, Keith was quoted as saying, "If you're African American, you're six, seven or eight times more likely to have a violent  history. I didn't go out there and put a gun in your hand and say, 'You commit eight crimes, and I'm a white man, I'll commit one.' That's just instincts, that's how it is."

But the paper now acknowledges it made a mistake -- that Keith did not say "that's just instincts" but rather "that's just statistics."

The remark came in a story about the state's newly enacted Racial Justice Act, which says no one shall be given the death penalty if race was a "significant factor" in determining the sentence. Keith opposes the law and lobbied against it.

This past Tuesday, a group of clergy and community leaders held a press conference on the steps of Wait Chapel at Wake Forest University to demand Keith's immediate resignation over the misquoted statement.

In an e-mail circulated yesterday after the newspaper corrected its error, protest leaders acknowledged the newspaper's error -- but said the "accurate statement with the word 'statistics' is still cause for concern for some. We do not believe that African Americans are more violent than white people and we remain concerned about racial disparities in the criminal justice system generally, and Forsyth County specifically."

They have called another press conference for 10 a.m. tomorrow outside the Hall of Justice in Winston-Salem. Besides addressing Keith's remarks, they are also seeking the release of a report done by a citizens review committee that found no credible evidence Kalvin Michael Smith was at the scene of a 1995 beating that killed Jill Marker in the Winston-Salem, N.C. store where she worked. Many in the community believe Smith, who is African-American, was wrongly convicted of the crime and want Keith's office to take action.

Yes! Weekly has posted the audio of its interview with Keith on its website. Facing South has taken down our earlier story about the controversy over Keith's remark to help prevent the misinformation from circulating any further.

In December 2003, another group of clergy gathered on Wait Chapel's steps and called for Keith to drop his defense of the case against Darryl Hunt, an African-American man who was later cleared of all charges related to the 1984 murder of Deborah Sykes, a white woman who worked as a newspaper copy editor in Winston-Salem.

DNA evidence played a pivotal role in the Hunt case. It also recently exonerated Joseph Abbitt, an African-American man who spent 14 years in prison for the rape of two teenage sisters in Winston-Salem in 1991, all the while proclaiming his innocence.

In 2005, Keith's office compiled a list of every suspect from Forsyth County in prison and mailed them a letter offering to conduct DNA tests if they thought it would help prove a claim of innocence. So far Abbitt has been the only one exonerated.

To date, DNA evidence has exonerated seven men in North Carolina and 241 men nationwide, according to the Raleigh News & Observer.