Lisa Alexander said she is frustrated and afraid for her son because of the way she “sees America going.”
“I’m afraid for my son every day,” said Alexander, who is black. “Every day I wake up, I’m afraid. And it’s not just the police — it’s people in general that seem to have an issue with black men, and I’m afraid.”
About 100 people gathered Friday evening for a prayer vigil outside the Gregg County Courthouse in Longview in memory of George Floyd, a black man who was killed Monday while in police custody in Minneapolis.
Floyd died after a white officer put his knee on his neck for several minutes. The death has spurred violent protests in Minneapolis and elsewhere across the country, and the officer was arrested and charged with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter Friday.
The Longview Clergy Coalition, Longview Area Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and the Longview Baptist Ministers Union hosted Friday’s prayer vigil, called Praying Together for Justice.
“I came to support the city of Longview so that our officers don’t become hateful like that,” Alexander said. “Because as I know now, we have very good officers. We have very appreciative officers, and I appreciate them. I don’t want it ever to be known that I don’t support our policemen, because I do.”
Alexander said her son, D’Anglo Jones, lives in Dallas.
“He’s a nice young man trying to stay focused, and I just don’t want to bury him — I want him to bury me,” she said. “I don’t want to bury my child, but I wake up every day afraid that I might have to.”
The Rev. LaDarian Brown of Parkview Baptist Church, who also is a Longview police officer and president of the Longview Area Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, was one of several pastors who spoke at the event.
“Even though I am a preacher, even though I am a cop, I’m also a black man,” Brown said. “Twenty-seven years I have lived here in these yet to be United States of America as a black man. So I will tell you: Do we face injustice? Yes, we do. Do we face oppression? Yes, we do. Do we face discrimination? Yes, we do. But there must be a sense of togetherness that we must come together as a people to respect one another and love one another.”
Brown said the officer in Minneapolis was a “rogue officer” and 99.9% of police do not have the same mentality, but there still are injustices in the criminal justice system.
“We have a whole bunch of criminals that are operating in our criminal justice system, and we must understand we do have people that wear the badge that are taking off a hood and putting a badge on,” he said. “So we must understand, although you might not have lived in our shoes, although you might have not walked the walk that I have, although you might not have the same skin color that I have, you must respect my point of view. You must respect my perspective because you have built a county off of a constitution, off of a Declaration of Independence that did not originally have me in mind to begin with.
“So law enforcement administrators, I compel you — quit telling us that ‘you took an oath to uphold and to enforce the constitution of the United States,’ because when you tell me that, you offend me because the people who wrote it didn’t have me in mind,” Brown said.
Longview NAACP President Winsell Coleman said he recently was asked, “Coleman, when are your people going to stop playing the race card?”
“I can’t believe he asked me that,” Coleman said. “And my answer was, ‘When the racist power system stops dealing.’ So always remember that, when they stop dealing it, we’ll stop calling it racism.”
He told the crowd that he wants everyone to think about what happened to all the people who used to lynch and kill people of color.
“And my response is: They’re still here. They just simply changed uniform,” he said. “They now wear the uniform of the police. They now wear the uniform of the military, of doctors, of civil officials.”
“Now, not these,” he said, indicating Longview officers, officials and pastors at the front of the courthouse with him. “But there are some civil officials out there, some of those people go into very evil beings at night. So all that’s changed is the uniform they wear and their form of attack.”
Longview resident Ketrina Collins said she attended the event because she wants justice.
“I had a cousin that was murdered by the police in handcuffs (in Houston), and nothing happened,” she said. “His mother mourned for him, and she died in mourning for her son. And it’s just it’s time out for it. It’s time out for the judicial system having their way. They’re having their way, and it has to stop. It has to stop.”
Collins said she wants all four officers involved in the arrest of Floyd arrested for murder.
“I understand a peaceful protest. I’m all for ... a peaceful protest,” she said about Friday’s event. “But we want to make a statement and let our thoughts be heard. Nobody asked us how we felt.”