Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Botham Jean’s girlfriend joins Dallas protest

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Dallas News.com:–  Protesters led by Botham Jean’s girlfriend on Friday delivered a petition with thousands of signatures urging the Dallas County district attorney to charge a former police officer with murder in his death.

A crowd of about 50 chanting “murder, murder, murder” punctuated the petition drive, organized by several nonprofits, with a visit to Faith Johnson’s office at Dallas’ criminal courthouse.

“This is a show of national support,” said Clarise McCants, criminal justice campaign director for Color of Change, one of the rally’s organizers. “People across the country are seeing this isn’t right.”

Amber Guyger, 30, was charged with manslaughter by the Texas Rangers three days after Jean was shot to death in his Dallas apartment.

The 26-year-old was killed Sept. 6 by the former officer, who was off duty but in uniform when she entered Jean’s unit, directly above hers by a floor at the South Side Flats in the Cedars.

She said she mistook his home for her own and believed Jean to be a burglar.

Dallas Police Chief U. Renee Hall fired Guyger this week.

Johnson, who wasn’t immediately available for comment Friday, has said her office’s investigation will be thorough and could lead to a range of charges, depending on a grand jury’s decision.

“We will make certain that justice is done in this case,” Johnson said shortly after Guyger’s arrest. “The grand jury will be able to look at all aspects of this case, which will include anything from murder, manslaughter or what have you.”

Participants in Friday’s rally, including two wearing masks, held signs along Riverfront Boulevard and drew honks from cars and school buses. Their signs read “DA Faith Johnson charge Amber Guyger with murder” on one side and “Justice for Botham Jean” on the other.

They wore T-shirts representing various left-leaning political causes, including one that read “Abolish ICE” and another pledging support to the American Civil Liberties Union. One protester carried a sign that read, “Black and Brown Lives Matter.”

Surrounded by supporters, Jean’s girlfriend, Cynthia Johnson, led the way up the stairs to the Frank Crowley Courts Building, carrying box of signed petitions.

She declined to speak to the news media, but others spoke for her, including Joe Estelle of the Texas Organizing Project.

“We want Amber Guyger to be charged with murder,” said Estelle, whose nonprofit advocates for black, Hispanic and poor communities. “We also want greater transparency surrounding police officers as they relate to people of color.”

Estelle said Guyger deserved greater scrutiny from the Dallas Police Department after she shot 47-year-old Uvaldo Perez, who tried to take her Taser from her in 2017.

Protesters also criticized Dallas police for taking so long to arrest and fire Guyger.

“Anyone, whether they were black or brown, would have been arrested immediately,” McCants said. “They would have been fired from their job immediately.”

The signatures delivered Friday came from all over the country, McCants said. In all, organizers turned in a little over 170,000 names.

“This is a clear-cut case,” Estelle said. “When someone can come into your own home and commit murder, that should alarm everyone, regardless of what color you are.”

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