RALEIGH, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Gov. Roy Cooper expressed his "disappointment" at being left off the invitation list for this weekend's annual NAACP conference in downtown Raleigh.
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RELATED: Read Gov. Cooper's letter to the NAACP
Whether there's a Republican or a Democrat residing in the Executive Mansion, the largest NAACP state chapter in the South traditionally extends an invitation to the governor. Not this year.
FORM OF PROTEST
Outgoing NC NAACP President the Rev. William Barber wrote a letter to Cooper explaining the group's decision was an expression of its frustration because the governor hasn't done enough about Dontae Sharpe's imprisonment.
For years, the group has rallied for the state to free the 42-year-old Sharpe, who was convicted of the 1994 murder of George Radcliff in Greenville.
For 22 years, Sharpe has insisted he is innocent; there is no physical evidence linking him to the crime, the state's only eyewitness recanted her testimony, and a former Greenville homicide detective who testified against Sharpe at trial, now said he believes he was wrongly convicted because of dubious testimony.
In his letter to the governor, Barber said after serving 16 years as first attorney general and now as governor, Cooper's life and Sharpe's are intertwined.
"Our system has failed Dontae," Barber wrote.
The NAACP last year ramped up efforts to free Sharpe, who has always insisted he didn't kill 33-year-old Radcliffe in Greenville during a drug buy in 1994. Barber said that's why Sharpe rejected a plea deal for a lesser sentence that might have meant his freedom years ago.
"Knowing the violence that continues to be done by the state of North Carolina - and understanding that you can prevent it, but to this point have refrained from using the power of your office to do so, we cannot honor you both," Barber added in the letter.
A request to grant Sharpe clemency is being reviewed according to a spokesperson in Cooper's office. Republican Gov. Pat McCrory didn't act on a similar clemency request. Attorney General Josh Stein, who succeeded Cooper in January, is reviewing Sharpe's case.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Gov. Cooper 'disappointed' to be left off NAACP invite list
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