Free the West Memphis 3

This has been a week with a lot of news in the case of the West Memphis Three.

New DNA evidence indicates conclusively that the three convicted young men are not guilty, and there was a celebrity-filled rally and press conference in Little Rock on Wednesday. Damien Echols was interviewed for the full hour on Larry King Live (follow link for rush transcript, video below).

If you don't know about this case, you really need to check it out, because it is a blatant case of injustice based on religious paranoia in a small town. Basically three teenagers — one of them borderline retarded whom the police bullied into “confessing” and implicating the other two — were charged and found guilty of the murder of three little boys without a shred of evidence, simply for the fact that local media, ambitious prosecutors and gullible Christians were so eager to find some scapegoats and punish someone, anyone, for what happened. The convicted were deemed to be Satanists and murderers because of how they dressed and the music they liked.

Two books, Devil's Knot and Blood of Innocents, were written about it, and HBO made two excellent documentaries, Paradise Lost and Paradise Lost II: Revelations, which are worth finding and viewing. There is a very active global and online community of support and advocacy for the WM3, and quite a few celebrities who have gotten involved and used their fame to bring attention to the case, including Natalie Maines (who was at yesterday's press conference), Eddie Vedder and Margaret Cho.

Unfortunately, despite the new evidence, getting them released will still be costly and time consuming, but now there is renewed hope.

By the way, if you would like to bid on EddieThe Cure's guitar, that's being auctioned off this month!

A more accessible musical fundraising event is planned for early next year that will take place simultaneously in cities around the world.

[Fixed the guitar donor, 12/24/07.]