Brians Banks joined the “Innocence March” in Malibu Saturday as part of a 660-mile walk to support the California Innocence Project, an organization that helped exonerate him last year of rape charges after he served five years in prison for a wrongful conviction.
In the Los Angeles area for Mother's Day, Banks and his mother, Leomia Myers, met marchers and attorneys from the social justice program at the route’s Malibu stop as part of the larger two-month-long march from San Diego to Sacramento to draw attention to wrongful convictions.
Banks joined the Atlanta Falcons last month, realizing a lifelong dream that was derailed when the Long Beach Polytechnic High School football star was sent to prison following a classmate's rape allegation.
March organizers were excited that Banks and his mother made time during his visit to support the group's efforts.
“I am thrilled Brian is able to fly cross-country to spend Mother’s Day with his mom and walk in the Innocence March with us,” Justin Brooks, director of the California Innocence Project, said in a news release. “Since the day we exonerated him, he has been committed to helping other men and women who have been wrongfully convicted."
The CIP marchers were protesting the incarceration of the “California 12” -- 12 men and women who they believe were wrongfully convicted.
The group’s “freedom walk” started in downtown San Diego on April 27 and is set to finish at the state Capitol on June 20, where marchers will present clemency petitions for the “California 12” to Gov. Jerry Brown.
Banks was a highly-touted young athlete who was accused of rape at age 16. He was arrested and, on the advice of counsel, pleaded no contest to avoid a possible life sentence.
A hidden-camera confession by his accuser, Wanetta Gibson, led to his exoneration after he spent five years in prison. Banks' conviction was thrown out in May 2012.
A private investigator caught Gibson on tape admitting that she made up the story that Banks raped her in a stairwell. The Long Beach Unified School District sued Gibson in April for $2 million to recoup a settlement she was awarded after trial.
Banks signed with the Atlanta Falcons on April 3.