10 Egregious Cases of White People Falsely Accusing Black People of Committing Crimes

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Charles StuartIn October 1989, Stuart told authorities that when he and his wife were coming home from a birthing class at a local hospital in Boston, they lost their way and ended up in a “dangerous part of town” near a Black housing project. He said that while they were looking for a way out, they were attacked by a dark-skinned mugger who came out of nowhere and fatally shot Stuart’s pregnant wife, Carol, and wounded Stuart. That was the story Stuart told and the story that the police and most of the news media swallowed whole. Dozens of Black men were rounded up and questioned, hundreds of homes were raided and an African-American man named William Bennett was arrested and jailed on suspicion of murder. Stuart, it was later discovered, had pulled the trigger. He blamed a Black man and jumped to his death from a bridge after his lie was exposed.

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Susan SmithSmith’s case garnered the attention of the world when she claimed in October 1994 that she had been carjacked in South Carolina by a Black man who drove away with her two young sons — ages 3 years old and 14 months — still in the car. For nine days, she made dramatic pleas on national television for their rescue. But following an intensive investigation and a nationwide search, she confessed to letting her 1990 Mazda Protegé roll into nearby John D. Long Lake, drowning them inside. She was sentenced to life in prison for their murder. Smith will be eligible for parole on Nov. 4, 2024, after serving a minimum of thirty years.