The Dallas Examiner
Applause and tears surfaced periodically from an emotional audience composed of diverse races, ages and sexes during the inaugural Clinton R. Allen Youth Speakout program held March 19 inside the performance space at the South Dallas Cultural Center.
The nonprofit group Mothers Against Police Brutality created the event, which included a creative performance and input from a panel of educators and legal advisors. It was intended for members of the community to share their stories of questionable, sometimes violent, interfaces with law enforcement, focusing particularly on Black men, who are the national demographic statistically most often injured or killed when interacting with police.
The meeting was also meant to encourage individuals to file formal complaints after such situations, according to a statement provided by the group.
Some of the tales were related by the relatives of Black family members who died as a result of such interactions.
Regina Goldston was one such speaker. Her son, Kelvin, was shot by officers in 2015 when the truck he was driving struck a plainclothes officer during the serving of a warrant, according to Tarrant County records.
Goldston described the shooting as an ambush.
“They say that he tried to run over those two officers … that had parked at the back of his car. No skid marks, no glass, no nothing.”
She offered as evidence that her son’s vehicle was not moving when the officers fired on him.
“They did a no-bill,” she remarked on the findings of the grand jury. “They said it was justified.” She noted that the loss of her child has been a crushing loss.
“My son had two children prior to his death and one child after his death … so I’ve been trying to do everything to make sure I keep it together.”
John Fullinwider, a co-founder of MAPB, informed the audience that in similar cases officers can seek financial help from the state’s Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund.
“He can get compensation for the mental trauma that it might have caused him,” he remarked, referring to a hypothetical officer who may have killed a suspect in the line of duty. “But none of the surviving family get anything out of that fund.”
Duane Riley also had a story to tell. He explained that he is a private security officer, legally entitled to openly carry a handgun on the job and while to and from work. Still, that didn’t prevent him for being stopped by police one night in 2014 as he walked home near Eighth Street after work.
“Full uniform, gun on my hip as the state of Texas rules require. All commissioned officers have to have their guns present – it has to be seen,” Riley said.
He was also wearing his badge and ID card in full view at the time and was in possession of a duffle bag containing his personal property.
“Two officers drove by; I waved at them as I always do because I’m legit.”
Yet on this occasion the officers turned their cruiser around in the street and confronted Riley, guns drawn.
“What are you doing with that gun on your hip?” he reported one officer asked.
The officer then removed the handgun and reached into Riley’s pockets, at which point he voiced that was an illegal, non-consented search, as opposed to a legal pat-down.
“Boom – slammed me to the ground,” Riley continued, saying the offer shouted to him to quit resisting. “Cussed me up, throws me in the back of the car.”
Riley was booked on dual charges of Firearm Restrictions for PI/Security Officer and Resist Arrest Search or Transport.
Eventually, Riley initiated an investigation with Dallas Police Department Internal Affairs and said that he was found to be in the right. Despite his innocence, the security officer spent 28 hours in jail, lost about $400 in bond fees, had to replace the gun he used for work at his own expense since it was permanently confiscated, as was a hunting knife in his duffle bag.
Riley was still upset about the arrest but offered that the best way to deal with an unjust police stop was to recall three steps: remain calm, know your rights and be certain to find out when the situation has been resolved.
“Ask first, ‘Am I being detained? Am I free to go?’ If you’re not being detained, you’re free to go,” he affirmed.
Later in the program David Blair described how he walked away from police questioning and was fired upon 13 times when DPD officers mistook the slam of his home’s screen door for a gunshot.
An older White man discussed his arrest at a protest in San Marcos. He conceded that what he had experienced couldn’t compare to some of the stories told at the Speakout event but offered that he was “an old English teacher” and favored a new vocabulary be introduced in regard to the experiences he had been taking in.
“What I’ve heard this morning, I would call fascism. It’s what I would call assassination. It’s what I would call eugenics,” he complained.
Dr. Ervin Seamster Jr., senior minister for Light of the World Church of Christ in Dallas and panelist for the event, urged drivers to activate their smartphones as soon as they get pulled over by the police as a form of insurance.
“Turn [on] and put your videos on [your] cameras because Black men need to wear body cams. Not just the police, but Black men need to be given body cams.”
He also beseeched local preachers to step forward and address the brutality issue.
“I’m gonna challenge every Black preacher in this city to get engaged. To join an organization like Mothers Against Police Brutality so that the church can get involved, because without the Black church it’s going to be very hard to mitigate some of this, to eliminate it, to destroy this,” he voiced.
Seamster also invoked the 1955 case of Emmett Till’s murder in Mississippi as he called out civilians who committed violent race-based crimes but who were never legally held accountable for their crimes.
“… [Till] was killed by cowardly American terrorists – and we won’t even call them terrorists. That’s what some of them are: terrorists,” he exclaimed as anger rose in his voice. “Not just fascists, but terrorists … What about terrorism that’s taking place in the Black community?”
He then commented that White people were only now truly understanding what terrorism means.
“Black people have always known what terrorism has been in this country.”