Bill Cosby was released from prison on June 30 after Pennsylavania’s high court overturned his conviction due to a promise made in 2015. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

By Micha Green
AFRO D.C. and Digital Editor
mgreen@afro.com

After serving almost three years of a three to 10-year sentence, comedian, actor and philanthropist Bill Cosby was released from prison on June 30 after Pennsylvania’s highest court overturned his 2018 conviction when he was found guilty on three counts of aggravated and indecent assault. Cosby’s release did not come after he was proven innocent, but he was freed based on a promise made by a former prosecutor, rather than the successor who ultimately prosecuted him in 2018.  While Cosby and his legal team smiled with great relief, there has been a mixed bag of responses from the Black community in support or disgust of the comedian’s release.

“Another one of those ‘better to say nothing at all’ kinda news days,” actor Jeffrey Wright said after news of Cosby’s release.

The comedian was originally convicted for allegedly drugging and sexually assaulting former Temple University professor Andrea Constand in 2004. 

Cosby, 83, finds himself a free man after the high court found his prosecution should have never happened in 2018, because of a deal he cut with former Montgomery County (Pennsylvania) prosecutor Bruce Castor three years earlier.  In 2015, Castor promised the comedian he would not be criminally prosecuted if he gave a deposition in a civil case brought against him by the former Temple professor.  Castor’s successor Kevin R. Steele used those same statements given by Cosby in 2015 to prosecute in 2018.

Cosby’s supporters are saying his release is an act of righting a wrong.

“We want to thank the Pennsylvania Supreme Court… for reviewing Mr. Cosby’s appeal, but also seeing the light, seeing the lies, and seeing that Mr. Cosby had immunity,” said Cosby’s spokesman Andrew Wyatt. 

“He served three years of an unjust sentence, and he did it with dignity and principle and he was a mentor to other inmates.  He was really as I say, doing the time, the time was not doing him,” Cosby’s attorney Jennifer Bonjean said.

“FINALLY!!!! A terrible wrong is being righted- a miscarriage of justice is corrected,” said Phylicia Rashad, the actor’s former “Cosby Show” and “Cosby” co-star.

Others are disgusted that the comedian is a free man.

“The people that are celebrating Bill Cosby being released are idiots,” said rapper Kid Cupid.

“I just will never understand the Bill Cosby stanning.  Beyond him being a rapist, he hated Black people, particularly impoverished Black people and single mothers.  We can let him go and be just fine,” said National Book Award-nominated writer Evette Dionne, author of Lifting As We Climb: Black Women’s Battle for the Ballot Box.

Scrolling through Black Twitter was witnessing war. 

“Bill Cosby admitted to raping and drugging women and y’all still like ‘he ain’t do it.’ It’s literally stupid.  Y’all Black beyond areas on at this point,” one woman tweeted.

All throughout social media, Black people were talking about Cosby’s release.      

Others talked about Cosby’s arrest and conviction as racism.

“The Black man didn’t get a fair day in court,” one social media user wrote.

“Everybody Black and conscious of the fuck shit always knew he was innocent.

Some made jokes about Cosby’s release, adding R. Kelly to the conversation in jest, as he was arrested in July 2019. 

The division on Cosby support and disgust, some say, is telling on who people truly are overall.

“This Bill Cosby decision is showing me people’s true colors and I am so disgusted.”

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Micha Green

AFRO Washington, D.C. Editor