Special to The Dallas Examiner
TARRANT COUNTY – On Saturday at noon, New Sheriff Now Tarrant County and community advocates held a caravan car rally to demand a full independent investigation from the Tarrant County Commissioners into the Tarrant County Sheriff’s office. The cars within the caravan blew their horns, they displayed banners and posters demanding a full investigation into the sheriff’s office and jail, and an end to the jail deaths.
“We want justice,” demanded Sindy Mata, a community organizer with New Sheriff Now Tarrant County, as the cars drove by her – some belonging to the caravan and others just passing through.
The group stated that it is the responsibility of the Tarrant County Sheriff to ensure full transparency and accountability and respond to the jail deaths that have occurred on their watch.
“The deaths that are occurring inside the Tarrant County jail are a direct reflection of the racist violence and dehumanization that is occurring as a result of a system that was made to harm and oppress Black and Brown communities. We need a sheriff who acts to save lives and will provide answers to the community they are meant to serve,” Mata said.
During this current pandemic, the sheriff’s office, currently administered by Bill Waybourn, has failed to provide basic personal hygiene products – as well as social distancing – to reduce the rate of COVID-related infections in the jail. In addition to dismissing efforts by the community to hold him accountable, Sheriff Waybourn has refused to advocate for the compassionate release of medically fragile incarcerated persons. This is a direct reflection of Waybourn’s long history of promoting negligence, incompetence and barbarism under the guise of his inhumane and backwards “law and order” rhetoric. This is a matter of choice based on his ideological commitments to indifference towards the community he is supposed to serve, according to the group.
The group brought attention to five people that have died in the jail since April, including one elderly man of COVID-19 – three men who died in one week last month and another man was reported to have committed suicide due to negligent supervision. Following the above-mentioned suicide incident, there was media report of a woman who gave birth unattended within the facility.
“As a result of the suicide, the jail lost its state certification for 6 days in May. Waybourn’s dereliction of duties and commitment to his empty “law and order” rhetoric reflects a lack of leadership, which is undeserving of support from members of our community. It also symbolizes the lack of community oversight for institutions such as the sheriff’s office. We all hold each other accountable and that should be reflected in the priorities and concerns of those elected as leaders in our community. Sheriff Waybourn has failed to meet the minimum requirements for maintaining the safety, dignity and humanity of individuals detained at the Tarrant County Jail. None of this is acceptable and we demand full community oversight over institutions that directly impact the lives of our community members,” according to a representative of the group.