Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Gone too soon

Posted on 22 May 2012, East Texas Review
Written by Jimmy Isaac, East Texas Review
The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People was founded 103 years ago, in part, to protect black Americans from violence from other races. In 2012, the Longview NAACP Chapter President Branden Johnson and other local leaders seek to slow violence against African-Americans committed by African-Americans.
“People, we are tired of burying our young,” Johnson said in a prepared statement released Monday. “It’s time to stop these seemingly early funerals. The summer has yet to begin and, already, murders and robberies have taken place within a few short months.”
Johnson, flanked by local clergy, municipal and nonprofit leaders, held Monday’s press conference at Longview Public Library to decry recent violence, including the May 15 fatal shooting of DeAundray Rossum. Rossum, 20, of Kilgore, was found shot to death during an apparent robbery on Signal Hill Drive in South Longview, according to police. A Kilgore High School classmate of Rossum’s, 22-year-old Brendan Xavier Douglas was arrested May 18 in connection to the homicide and is being held in the Gregg County Jail on $253,000 bond.
Longview police believe the shooting, in which two other men were wounded, was the result of a failed drug deal that escalated into a robbery, according to a search warrant.
“Regardless of the circumstances,” Johnson said Monday, “he (Rossum) was human like you and I.”
Longview NAACP, the Longview Interdenominational Alliance and the Longview Clergy Coalition are planning prayer walks and other events later this summer to raise awareness against rising local violence. City of Longview-backed prayer walks became annual events in 2006 through 2009 due to violence at that time.
“We plan to hold combined events throughout the city of Longview to prevent crime, increase love, and build relationships with all Longview residents. Your assistance is fully welcomed,” Johnson said.
“First of all, there has to be awareness, and all the groups need to come together,” Longview Interdenominational Alliance chairman Tim Watson said Monday. “We have to have awareness that there is a problem in our community not just isolated to one section of our city. We have to raise the awareness that all of us must be involved. Unfortunately, when we have these tragedies, it raises the awareness. However, we are trying to be proactive and work together for the benefit of the community.”
Father Gavin N. Vaverek of St Mary’s Catholic Church couldn’t agree more.
“It will take good people working together to create the awareness and positive opportunities for young people,” he said.  “We must cooperate with the police so it does not reach to the point of someone being killed.”
Longview witnessed 30 homicides and 538 robberies between 2008 and 2010, marking the highest total among both crimes in a three-year period for the city since 1999.
In 2011, the city witnessed four homicides – the lowest total in at least 13 years. All four victims were black men, and while no arrests have been made in two of the homicides, police have arrested two black men in connection with two separate killings and identified a black woman in the December fatal stabbing of Ray Jacobs, though no arrest has been made in that crime.
“Today, I feel angry. I am upset that the good die young mostly over nonsense. I am outraged that some perpetrators remain at large, protected by individuals in the community that will not fully cooperate with the police,” Johnson said Monday. “It’s no secret, yet a known fact the penitentiaries are packed, and it’s filled with blacks. Why must we kill each other? It takes skill to be real and begin to heal each other.”
Johnson and other leaders implored residents with crime tips to come forward and bring responsible people to justice. Police Chief Don Dingler added that all residents must remain vigilant against crime, which can happen in all parts of the city.
“We urge anyone that is a victim of crime to report it,” Longview Police Chief Don Dingler said. “It help us to help them and the community at large. We can’t solve crimes without citizen assistance. Some of the best ways to help us is to be involved in crime prevention such as neighborhood crime watch and those types of things. I think if you are a victim of crime or you see a crime report it. If you are alone in the building leave the door locked. Crime happens everywhere.”
District 3 (Southeast) City Councilwoman Kasha Williams noted that not all children are the same. Most young people are law-abiding residents, and people should refrain from labeling a section of town,” she said.
“People do not realize that there are places for young people to go to,” Williams said. “We can look at what to do to put children in these programs and avoid tragedies such as this.”
As Longview Community Services Coordinator Dietrich Johnson (no relation to Branden Johnson) noted, however, maintaining the funds to keep open those positive places for young people becomes more difficult with time.
“Prevention is the key,” Dietrich Johnson said, “but prevention is always under the budget hatchet.”
Longview NAACP is asking that anyone who wants to find a way to help the effort can join the NAACP or any of the local agencies involved in quelling local violence. To learn more, call the Greater Longview United Way Infoline at (903) 236-9211.
“There are small things we can do to create a bridge to safety for young people like DeAundray,” Branden Johnson said. “We realize positive and constructive community activities for the 18 to 26 year old population is lacking in the area. However, Longview does offer assistance in the enhancement of our youth. There are museums, libraries, civic organizations, church activities, and parks to frequent. Parents that do not have the tools to parent, have access to parenting groups. Children with emotional disturbances have access to mental health care. There are even conferences planned to discuss youth potential, assets, and safety. There are opportunities for the average young person to get involved. Let’s stop meeting, to start doing.”

Branden Johnson, flanked by local clergy, Councilwoman Kasha Williams, Chief Don Dingler and concerned citizens at a press conference.

Longview NAACP, clergy decry violence, ask for action

By Angela Ward award@news-journal.com
LONGVIEW NEWS JOURNAL: Tuesday, May 22, 2012
View article Online 
The Longview NAACP, Interdenominational Alliance and Clergy Coalition joined together Monday to decry heightened violence and call for prayer in the wake of this past week’s shooting death of a Longview man.
“We are tired of burying our young,” said Branden Johnson, president of the Longview NAACP. “I am upset that the good die young, mostly over nonsense. I am outraged that some perpetrators remain at large, protected by individuals in the community who will not fully cooperate with the police.”
Flanked by about a dozen clergy members, Longview Police Chief Don Dingler, City Councilwoman Kasha Williams and others, Johnson said the NAACP was formed more than 100 years ago to fight white mob violence against racial and religious minorities, but the level of outrage does not change when the color of the mob does.
The gathering and statement was prompted by the shooting a week ago that left 23-year-old DeAundray Rossum dead and at least two other people wounded.
“DeAundray’s death must be a call to action in our community,” Johnson said. “We cannot remain silent while our young people fall victim to these senseless acts of violence.”
The Rev. Gavin Vaverek, pastor of St. Mary’s Catholic Church, said he was supportive of all efforts to reduce violence in Longview.
“In the past, we’ve had outbreaks of violence and things did get better after the community responded with prayer and ongoing efforts to support one another, so I’m hopeful that’s what will happen this time,” he said.
Carol Ibarra, who is on the staff of the Women’s Center of East Texas, said she attended Monday’s event for both personal and professional reasons.
“On a personal level, I wanted to be here because I have kids and I want them to grow up in a safe community,” Ibarra said. “On a professional level, the Women’s Center of East Texas is focused on ending violence of any kind and we want to be supportive of all efforts to do so.”
Johnson urged all residents of the community to get involved with local civic or nonprofit agencies. Information on such agencies can be found on the Greater Longview United Way Infoline at (903) 236-9211.
Anyone with information on last week’s shooting may call Longview police Detective Kevin Freeman at (903) 237-1199, anonymously call Gregg County Crimestoppers at (903) 236-7867 or submit a tip online atwww.greggcountycrimestoppers.org.

Officials make plea for peace

Brandon Johnson, President of the Longview chapter of the NAACP, center, and members of the Longview Interdenominational Alliance and the Longview Clergy Coalition issued a joint statement Monday, May 21, 2012 at the Longview Public Library in reference to recent acts of violent crime. (Les Hassell/News-Journal Photo)  View more photos.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Longview residents rally after string of violent crimes | News | Longview News

Longview residents rally after string of violent crimes | News | Longview News

View Article
East Texans in Longview are saying enough is enough after a rash of violence in their city.
The Longview NAACP, Longview Area Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance and the Longview Clergy Coalition spoke out Monday saying the are focused on a solution to end crime.
They point to the recent death of Deaundray Rossum on May 15 as a call to action.
"Today, I am angry," said Longview NAACP President Branden Johnson, " I am upset that good people die young, mostly over nonsense. I am outraged that some perpetrators remain at large protected by individuals in the community that will not fully cooperate with the police."
These groups will be holding number of events to help lower crime and bring unity to the community.
Copyright 2012 KLTV. All rights reserved.

NAACP reacts to deadly shooting, recent violence in Longview - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

NAACP reacts to deadly shooting, recent violence in Longview - KYTX CBS 19 Tyler Longview News Weather Sports

LONGVIEW (KYTX) -- The NAACP is speaking out against recent violence in East Texas after someone shot 23-year old Deaundray Rossum in an apparent armed robbery. CBS 19's Abby Broyles takes us to the Gregg County Courthouse with new details in the investigation.
According to these police affidavits, one of the men who was in the car with Rossum told investigators the shooting happened as a result of a drug deal. And since then, another man who was in the car with Rossum has been arrested in a separate aggravated robbery. These crimes have the NAACP speaking out today, calling for a stop to the violence.
"People, we are tired of burying our young," Longview NAACP President Branden Johnson said.
NAACP leaders in Longview break their silence Monday about a growing number of crimes in the black community, including a shooting last week that left one man dead and 2 others injured.
"The murder of DeAundray Rossum on May 15, 2012 by assailants has shocked us. A little part of us died with him that day," Johnson said.
Rossum was found shot and killed in the driver's seat of a car last Tuesday night.
It happened at a small apartment complex on signal hill drive.
Police say 3 other people were in the car with Rossum.
In police affidavits obtained by CBS 19, one man in the car said Rossum drove them Shreveport before the shooting to buy crack cocaine. But they said the dealer didn't show up.
That's when they claim 22-year old Brendan Douglas told Rossum to drive to the apartments where two men allegedly opened fire, shooting Rossum and two others. Rossum was robbed and killed.
Just a couple days before the deadly shooting, police say Douglas robbed a man at gunpoint here at Jack-in-the-Box. It happened the night of May 13th on North Access Road near I-20. Investigators found fingerprints in the victim's car linking Douglas to the crime. Police arrested him for aggravated robbery.
"The summer has yet to begin and already murders and robberies have taken place," Johnson said.
Douglas was one of the two people who survived the shooting last week. He was taken to jail for the robbery after getting out of the hospital.
Police are still looking for the shooter who killed Rossum.
"This brutal cycle will not end until we arrest and bring to justice those responsible for violent acts," Johnson said.
As the shooting investigation continues, Douglas remains in the Gregg County Jail tonight for aggravated robbery. He's being held on bonds totaling more than $250,000.
Investigators tell us the third gunshot victim is home from the hospital tonight, but they're not releasing his name.
The NAACP and local clergy are planning prayer walks this summer in Longview in hopes of stopping the cycle of violence.

Longview NAACP responds to recent shooting

Branden Johnson, president of the Longview NAACP, issued a statement decrying violence on Monday morning in reference to the recent shooting death of 23-year-old DeAundray Rossum in Longview.
Johnson was speaking for his own organization, the Longview Interdenominational Alliance and the Longview Clergy Coalition. About a dozen clergy members, city officials and representatives of nonprofit organizations stood beside him as he spoke.
The group plans to organize prayer walks to draw attention to local violence and spotlight other area options for young people.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Longview NAACP forum draws city, county hopefuls

Candidates for Saturday’s city election and May 29 party primaries pitched their qualifications Thursday to the Longview NAACP.
“When you serve people, you get a joy,” Precinct 4 constable candidate Bernard Brooks told a crowd that would grow to 60. “And people can see that in your work and your day-to-day life.”
Brooks and Ulysses Johnson are challenging incumbent Robby Cox for the Democratic nomination in the roughly south Gregg County precinct. Cox did not attend Thursday’s National Association for the Advancement of Colored People forum at Broughton Recreation Center.
Johnson, noting that constables may do more than deliver court summons and other papers, said he would ensure children who are in jail attend family funerals.
“I want to be able to go get that kid, bring that boy or girl that’s locked up, to that funeral,” he said.
City council elections took some spotlight Thursday as John Sims and challengers Samantha Clark and David Sparks pitched their points.
“I see a lot of potential for things that kind of went by the wayside,” Clark said, noting empty buildings in District 1 and across town. Clark said she would work for residents, “ ...who feel that they have nothing or that there’s no hope for them, because everything’s pointed to the other side of town.”
Sparks pitched his fourth-generation Longview heritage along with stints on the Zoning Board of Adjustment and the Construction Advisory Appeals Board. He said his priority on the council would be public safety, supporting the police and fire departments.
Sims, running for his third and final term, praised the makeup of the city council.
“We have disagreements,” Sims said. “We vote our hearts and with the citizens in mind.”
Mayor Jay Dean, who is being challenged by Tammy Barnes, who did not attend, said he had been invited to a meeting of ministers when he took office six years ago.
“Their concern was the fact that I’d been the District 5, or Spring Hill, or North Longview city councilman, that I wasn’t going to do anything for the rest of the city,” Dean recalled.
Dean said the Unity in the Community prayer marches, the return of neighborhood policing, fee waivers for reclaiming abandoned businesses and other development showed he was not merely northern Longview’s mayor.
“This district, this area, is sort of the epicenter of Longview,” Dean said, referring to the south-central part of the city before noting the 2011 referendum on $52.6 million in road and other infrastructure repair. “Guess where two-thirds of that money is going? It’s going to be spent right here in this district.”
Shirley McKellar of Tyler, a Democrat hoping to unseat Republican Northeast Texas Congressman Louie Gohmert, told the group their representative should not serve only one party.
“I’m very concerned about what’s going on in my country — the loss of jobs,” McKellar said. “There’s too much division in our country. When we went to serve (in the U.S. Army in Iraq), we went to serve all the people and not a party.”
Tommy Merritt and David Simpson, the respective challenger and incumbent representing District 7 in Austin, highlighted their different approaches to government.
Tea party loyalist Simpson railed against the state’s $21 million pledge to Apple for bringing 3,600 jobs to the Austin area.
“These so-called economic development programs favor the elite,” Simpson said. “We need to attract employers and businesses to Texas through a qualified work force.”
That would involve meeting a growing need to support community colleges, he added.
Merritt noted Texas’ favorable climate for business — low taxes, low production costs, transportation options by air, rail and port.
“We are competing internationally for jobs and opportunity,” said Merritt, a seven-term House member before Simpson took the seat in 2010. “I enjoyed serving in the Legislature, to help create a great environment for people to work in the state of Texas. ... We need to incentivize our businesses, large or small, to offer health care to their work force, to their employees. We do not need a national bureaucrat mandating it to companies.”
Simpson noted that everyone can find medical care in an emergency room.
“We should not confuse the lack of insurance and accessibility to health care,” Simpson said, noting newly emerging cash options for some pregnancies. “If insurance is involved, it’s a minimum of two to three times higher. Government-mandated health care is going to destroy our economy and our health care system.”