NAACP Meets Over Racism In Linden - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

7/23/05-Longview

NAACP Meets Over Racism In Linden

     Around 100 Linden residents met with NAACP members to vent their frustration and try to come up with solutions to a racism problem they say has lasted decades. Many black residents say if there's justice in Linden, then it's "justice for whites only."

     "Black don't have much to say here if you have anything to say you're not going to be heard, so this is the way we can be heard as a group let them know we're not going to take it," says Linden resident Joetta Ford.

      With NAACP members on hand, African American residents angrily sounded off in response to a recent trial where light sentences were handed down for four, young, white men. The men severely beat a mentally disabled black man, Billy Ray Johnson, back in 2003, but were only sentenced to short jail time and probated sentences.

     "It don't matter if he was black or brown, he's a man part of mankind," said one resident of Johnson's death.

   "We think justice wasn't done in this case for a number of reasons, and we intend to get to the bottom of it," said an NAACP representative.

     Residents say they've seen numerous cases against blacks, suspicious suicides, blacks getting extreme court sentences while whites are given leniency, violence against blacks. And they say it's time to put a stop to racism.

    "There's a growing frustration against exactly the people we're talking about.  We're frustrated because we're not progressing," said meeting supporter John Berry.

    The NAACP plans future meetings with residents, law enforcement and public officials in Linden.

Bob Hallmark reporting, bhallmark@kltv.com

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