"Most Powerful Pages on the Planet"
October 19, 2008
Volume 1 - No.24
Darwin Campbell, Executive Publisher
A Bi-Weekly Publication
Brandon McClelland / James Byrd Jr.
FAMILY SPEAKS OUT ON IMPACT OF TEXAS "HATE" CRIME
McClelland’s Killing Leaves Trail of Questions, Grief and Pain
PARIS, TEXAS- He was his mother’s only child.
A young man known for his respectful disposition and for spending a great deal of time at home cooking doing chores around the house, helping his disabled grandmother and mentoring his nephews in the home.
At 24, Brandon McClelland had dreams getting into truck driving school and taking to the road to pursue the kind of income he hoped would lift his family up and away from the brink of poverty.
All those dreams and the hopes of an entire family for one of its key providers to move up and realize his dreams were halted abruptly with his dragging death in Lamar County near Paris on Sept. 16.
“He was that one flower in my heart,” said Jaqueline McClelland, Brendon’s mother who also suffers from heart problems. “This was cold-hearted. His life had just started and it got taken away. He never got a chance to live life and that makes me very angry.”
Jaqueline McClelland’s words tell the raw and honest truth of a family actively grieving and suffering because of her son’s senseless killing.
Brandon McClelland is the second African-American Texan that has allegedly been murdered in a James Byrd-like fashion by White men with ties to an alleged White supremacists group. This year marked the 10the anniversary of Byrd’s death.
Brandon’s death has opened new wounds and left deep scars and many unanswered questions about why in 2008, do African-Americans still have to live with the threat of racism and hate that continues to permeate and bubble up in people, neighborhoods and communities across Texas and the country.
The men allegedly ran down McClellan and left his body on a dark road mutilated and dismembered and abandoned.
McClelland's body was found on a country road in Lamar County just outside Paris on Sept. 16.
According to reports, McClelland was allegedly walking in front of the pickup when Shannon Finley, 27, and a friend, Charles Ryan Crostley, 27, allegedly ran him down and then dragged him 40 feet along the road until his mutilated body popped out from beneath the chassis.
In 1998, the dragging death of James Byrd Jr. was dragged to death by three White men in Jasper, Texas.
The three men beat Byrd behind a convenience store, chained him by the ankles to their pickup truck, stripped the man naked and dragged him for three miles.
Byrd's limbs were scattered across a very little-used road and police later found 75 places littered with Byrd's remains. Brewer and King were sentenced to death. Berry received life in prison.
At first, investigators reported Brandan's death as possible hit and run accident, but later determined his body allegedly had been dragged by the vehicle. Both men are being held in the case.
As late as Oct. 6, members of the New Black Panther Party walked the site with other investigators and were still finding bone fragments and personal articles belonging to McClelland..
Adding insult to injury, the mother said the alleged killers came to Brandon’s house in the early morning after the incident, sat on the porch and talked to the mother contending they had left Brandon somewhere on the country road after they got into it.
“It was a mother’s feeling that something was terribly wrong. I could feel something was not right at the time,” she said. “They left my baby out on that road to die and sitting’ there, could not look me in the face. It left me with a cold chilling feeling when they left.”
Levon McClelland, one of Brandon’s aunts, said she will not rest until justice is done.
“Dragging a person is totally hateful and shows no respect for self and no respect for life,” she said. “This was a cold hearted hate crime in the worst kind of way and it should be tried and treated this way. These men need to pay for what they did because Brandon was a sweet young man and did not deserve this kind of ending to his promising life.”
Prior to his death, he helped support the family of eight working at Waste Management and had worked at Denny’s Restaurant.
However, he is fondly remembered for friendliness, his untiring love and commitment to his sick mother and grandmother.
“He had no enemies and was not a violent person,” said Aunt Chenedra McClelland, “He was a key provider in this family and was willing to do what he had to do for the family.”
Annie McClelland regrets that such hate exists in the world that would cause people to kill in anger.
“They did not have to do that to my grandson,” she said. “This is a huge loss to us. We depended on him so much.”
According to the grandmother, he was a church going young man who never sassed and helped her get around, fixed her meals and took me around to the store and bank.
“This is a huge loss and we are really missing him,” said Grandmother Annie McClelland who is disabled. “He was a good child, my oldest grandson and first grand baby.”
His grandfather, Ernest McClelland, is devastated by Brandon’s sudden and tragic death.
“He was fun-loving young man that was not part of a drug or gang scene,” he said. “He had a future. He was hard working, did what you told him, was trustworthy, respectful and was cut down far too soon before his time.”
Family member are hurt by the lack of attention being given to the case and the failure of officials to communicate with the family about the case.
“It appears that some are keeping their distance and staying away,” McClelland said. “They won’t come knocking to let us know what is going on. It seems as though they want to hide as much as possible and hold down publicity.”
McClelland’s tragic death is his worst nightmare and a tragic repeat of Byrd and proves that racists in Texas are still rebellious and learned absolutely nothing from efforts to work to heal long standing historical wounds that have lasted over 300 years from slavery to freedom that saw thousands of African-Americans intimidated, murdered and lynched with the blessing of the legal system, justice system and local government, law enforcement and elected officials.
Truth, honesty and justice is what African-Americans want in this case and the time is now for officials in Paris have the courage to step up and make their strongest statement against racism ever.
Without grassroots people stepping up and stepping in to help, this would have been covered up as a hit-and-run," Jaqueline McClelland said. "We are thankful for (Paris activist) Brenda Cherry, The New Black Panther Party and the Texas Rangers for their work in the case."