From the first time I heard the story of the West Memphis Three, I knew something just didn’t quite add up. In 1993, 3 little boys of the age of 8 were brutally murdered in West Memphis, Arkansas. Shortly after the bodies were found, authorities arrested Damien Echols, Jason Baldwin, and Jessie Misskelley, Jr. who were later convicted. While the crimes that were committed were nothing short of heinous and the guilty deserves to be punished, nothing about the stated evidence led me to believe that the three young men they convicted were the ones responsible. Apparently Johnny Depp is of the same opinion.
The details of this case are far too many to delve into here and now. The basics, however, are that the three young men arrested and convicted didn’t exactly fit in to the ideal of the community. Like so many young people trying to discover who they are, these boys explored a few taboo subjects which didn’t set well with the community at large. Imagine how convenient it must have been to have such a perfect target on which to pin the murders of three little boys. The community not only gets some ill conceived notion of justice, but it rids itself of a few misfits at the same time.
I tell you now, I am convinced these trials were nothing more than a modern day witch hunt, but you can decide that for yourself with a bit of research. There is plenty of information online at www.wm3.org/CaseInfo as well as a couple of documentaries that follow the case. The evidence there just doesn’t support the verdict. Damien Echols is scheduled to appeal for a new trial on the 30th of September and heaven knows he needs all the support he can get.
So I was excited to learn that Johnny Depp decided to host a benefit concert a month before the proceedings in support of justice for these boys. On August 30 at Little Rock’s Robinson Center Music Hall, more than 2,500 people came out in support for the West Memphis Three. Johnny Depp was joined by Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder and Dixie Chick’s Natalie Maines. While I don’t necessarily like or dislike any one of these celebrities, it is good to know that there are people of this status out there who are willing to stick their reputation on the line when there has been such a gross misappropriation of justice.
No, I do not believe these crimes should go unpunished. The graphic details of the case are more than I can bear to write about and the responsible party deserves far more than the law will allow. However, I also do not believe that 17 years of a young man’s life should have been snatched away from him simply because he liked heavy music, colored his hair black, and researched Wicca, particularly when all of the evidence does more to prove his innocence than guilt. Do we not all have a right in this country to believe whatever it is we choose to believe without fear of persecution? Apparently not. Kudos to you, Mr. Depp, for taking a stand for what is right!