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article imageOp-Ed: Dewey Bozella — a genuine black hero, for once

By Alexander Baron     Oct 16, 2011 in World
You've heard of “innocent” Mumia, “innocent” Troy Davis, and “radical” Huey P. Newton. How come you never heard of Dewey Bozella?
One of the big problems American blacks have especially is their total lack of critical faculty when it comes to choosing their heroes. The dude walks the walk and talks the talk, so he must be innocent, right? Never mind that Troy Davis murdered a police officer in a car lot in front of numerous witnesses, or that Mumia Abu-Jamal was wearing an empty gun holster and had an equally empty gun at his feet with two bullets from it in the man he'd murdered: one in Daniel Faulkner's back and the other in his brain. And best not to even mention Huey Newton: pimp, murderer, crackhead and scumbag. Oh yeah, and people's champion, right.
Dewey Bozella had no illustrious political pedigree like Mumia and Newton, nor did a former President speak up for him, as did the hoodwinked Jimmy Carter for Troy Davis. Bozella was convicted of a particularly heinous crime, the murder of a 92 year old woman. The evidence against him came from two aspiring young punks: a fifteen year old, and another eighteen year old, like him. The fifteen year old was given immunity from prosecution, something that must always be regarded with suspicion. This was in 1977-8, but it would not be until 6 years after the death of the victim that Bozella would be convicted of second degree murder.
A retrial resulted in a second conviction, and a sentence of from twenty years to life.
It was not until October 2009 that Bozella was finally cleared of any involvement in this crime. The judgment can be found here, and it does not make pleasant reading.
Bozella owes his freedom both to his own persistence and to the belated intervention of the Innocence Project. His final acquittal was not a technicality; this was another of those convictions that relied on spurious confessions (but not by him) and dubious methods on the part of prosecuting attorneys.
Bozella took up boxing behind bars, and it was this that helped him survive. Those who prefer watching videos to reading appeal judgments will find this eleven and a half minute clip edifying, especially the revelation that in 1990 he was offered a deal by the District Attorney - plead guilty and walk free time served - and turned it down! He spent another 19 years behind bars, and would have spent the rest of his life there rather than confess to a murder he did not commit. How many of us would have gone down the same route?
Bozella also reveals how he came face to face with the man who as a fifteen year old boy had murdered his brother, and forgave him in an instant.
After winning his freedom, he took up youth work, and this year won the Arthur Ashe Award For Courage. Bozella had married his girlfriend in prison, but there was one mountain left to climb, and this past weekend, at the age of 52, he fought and won his first (and hopefully last) fight as a professional boxer against a man some twenty years his junior, a four round decision. Bozella said he wanted to have one professional fight as a free man; this could well be another entry for the Guinness Book Of Records.
Bozella's story is inspirational not just because of his courage and determination but because it is not a “black” story, rather it is a universal one like that of Bethany Hamilton. It is in short a story of triumph over adversity, not one of whining about how the system or the world - racist or otherwise - has it in for “me”.
We can but wish Bozella well, but it is a sad fact that there are many other Dewey Bozella's out there, including almost certainly Omar Benguit and Michael Stone. Stone has already spent 14 years behind bars, 13 of them as a convicted murderer, but like Bozella he has steeled himself for the long trip, one that hopefully he will not have to make.
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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