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Indictment Shows Double Standard for White-Black Justice & Low Value of Black Life
Second Protest Ups Ante in Paris/Lamar and Red River Counties
PARIS, TEXAS- Indictments returned in the case against two White men who dragged a Black man outside Paris,Texas proves that still in some places in America Black life is just cheap.
“We are not happy about this. They killed my son and I don’t understand why they are not pushing for capital murder charges and a life sentence that will guarantee these men will be locked up and not be allowed to hurt anyone else” said Jacqueline McClelland, mother of Brandon McClelland. “We do not feel that a Black life here is held as important or as high as a White life.”
Instead of facing hate crime penalties for the heinous crime that took the life of Brandon McClelland, Shannon Finely was indicted for murder as a repeat offender and for tampering with or fabricating physical evidence and his alleged accomplice, Ryan Crostley, was charged with murder and retaliation.
According to state laws, none of the charges have been connected to hate crime or capital murder statutes and will only net possible penalties of up 99 years in prison. Life without parole is not being considered as an option to date in this case.
“We hope justice prevails, but at this point we do not feel like there is justice,” she said. “These charges do not guarantee the kind of sentences that could lock these men up that killed my only son for a lifetime.”
Her sentiment is one of many cases in the justice systems across America that highlights that fact that in the United States there is difference between White and Black justice.
Tampering with “Blind Justice” in Parish and Lamar County is the reason activists press on are planning to raise the anti in the fight by holding a second rally to support McClelland, raise awareness and send a stronger message that there will be no peace until there is true and righteous justice for every African-American in Paris and Lamar County.
The Oppressed Citizens of Paris, Texas, and their supporters, will hold a rally on December 27, 2008 at Leon Williams Park in Paris from 12:00 - 4:00 PM to kick off their justice petition and letter writing campaign.
The rally will culminate with a motorcade heading to Red RiverCounty and Clarksville, TX for an hour rally at the police station.
“The corruption and integrity of local law enforcement including but not limited to the DA, Val Varley and justices, John Miller and Shelley Benton as well as incoming sheriff Robert Bridges needs to be assessed,” Stovall said. “These protests, rallies and petition signing drives are an effort by grassroots organizations that are calling for an independent counsel of federal investigators and prosecutors to look into allegations of malicious and wrongful prosecutions by the DA’s of these counties as well as disproportionate sentencing among blacks and whites in the area.”
To date the movement has been supported by the New Black Panther Party, Concerned Citizens for Racial Equality, the Tarrant County Local Organizing Committee, Justice League, Irving Activist Anthony Bond and others Texas activists fighting for and seeking justice in the county.
In light of the McClelland case and on-going issues in Lamar and Red River County, the group will request the intervention of the Department of Justice in Washington D. C., to conduct a thorough investigation into violations of People of Color's Human, Civil and Constitutional Rights, especially in regards to the investigation, prosecuting, and sentencing of Persons of Color by City of Paris Law Enforcement Agency and Lamar County.
Letters and appeals have already have been sent nationally requesting Congressional intervention in Lamar and Red River Counties of Texas.
According to that letter, activists cite distinct patterns of judicial improprieties in those areas of Texas.
“Blacks and poor whites are being lynched in the judicial processes of these counties while whites who are of the elite or 'upper echelon' of society, relatives and friends of judges, sheriffs and in some cases lawyers are being meted lighter sentences,” according to Paris Pastor and Red River County Activist Rev. Fred Stovall. “We have the evidence because we have done our homework. There are also lawyers, business men and women, whites and blacks who will attest to this for it has been going on for some time now and we need your help”
The latest campaign will also focus on the alleged unbalanced justice record and questionable activities of the Lamar County District Attorney Gary Young.
Spokesmen for the groups said they will be asking that all cases prosecuted by Young, be closely re-examined for violations.
Activists contend that Young has no regard for his courtroom behavior, is unprofessional and cite the recent case involving the ShaQuanda Cotton trial.
“He (Young) went to great lengths to intimidate young teenage female witnesses who were there to testify for ShaQuanda,” according to the spokesman who asked not to be identified. “Gary frequently got face to face with these young witnesses, screaming and shouting directly into their faces with only a few inches separating them. While Gary was behaving like a raving out of control maniac, Shaqanda's Council, S. Wesley Newell, cowardly sat silent behind the relative safety of the Defendant's desk too afraid to challenge his outrageous behavior.”
The group spokesman said recently, Young treated the Brandon McClelland’s case as a hit and run and after reports surfaced that it was a possible hate crime, “Gary insisted it was not,” the statement said. “Both Gary and his spokesperson Allan Hubbard have gone on record claiming the two men who took Brandon out to an isolated area and dragged him to death and mutilated and dismembered him were his “friends” and the idea of it being a hate crime “preposterous”.”
If a White man kills a Black man, it appears through the eyes of grand juries in LamarCounty, it is just not that serious.
As Dick Gregory said, “If a Black man kills a White Man, the course to conviction takes a steeper and harsher path than when a White Man kills a Black man.”
“What better opportunity to celebrate the birth of Christ than to make the trip to Paris to show your support for your Brothers and Sisters who are battling a system of utter disrespect and disregard for the lives of Persons of Color, a system that is controlled by direct descendants of the most brutal of slave masters, lynch mobs, and government sanctioned Jim Crow lawmakers,” activists said in a release. “For those who cannot make the trip to Paris we are asking your support in contacting family members, friends, neighbors and any one you meet who is willing to write a letter of support for your brothers and sisters to the next Attorney General, Eric Holder.”
The cover ups and ignoring of facts in this case and the latest indictments do not go far enough to guarantee real justice in McClelland’s case nor does it bode well for future cases involving Blacks murdered by Whites in Lamar County or anywhere else in Texas..