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From County Jail to Critical Condition

NNPA NEWSWIRE — Jackson’s family has absolutely no idea what exactly happened to him. Interestingly, apparently neither does the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department. Well…at least that is the narrative they have been providing everyone who has been seeking answers about the key details surrounding Jackson, especially his family and their attorneys.

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“All these facts point to foul play by each person involved with the custody and care of C.J., which is evident by the withholding of information to his family,” said civil rights attorney U.A. Lewis, who is representing the family alongside attorney Shardae Parker.

Texas Rangers Investigating Case after Missing Burleson County Jail Inmate Serving a One Day Jail Sentence Ends Up on Life Support in an Entirely Different County

By Jeffrey L. Boney, NNPA Newswire Contributor

Can you imagine the heartache and disbelief the family of 30-year-old Chester “C.J.” Jackson has been experiencing after not knowing any details about what happened to their loved one after learning that his initial arrest on April 19th in one county ended up leading to his finding him in the hospital on life support in another county on April 22nd?

Jackson’s family has absolutely no idea what exactly happened to him. Interestingly, apparently neither does the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department. Well…at least that is the narrative they have been providing everyone who has been seeking answers about the key details surrounding Jackson, especially his family and their attorneys.

Jackson, who commonly goes by “C.J.” for those in the community who know him, has been battling for his life in critical condition in the ICU at St. David Hospital in Austin, Texas. Jackson’s condition has slightly improved, but he is still battling to recover.

Although Jackson’s condition has improved and his current medical condition known at this moment, what isn’t fully known are the key details surrounding the encounter Jackson had that led to his getting transported from Burleson County to Austin and ending up in his current condition.

This entire ordeal remains a mystery, clouded by suspicion surrounding the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department and their unwillingness to share critical information that can help shed light on what really happened to Jackson last month.

Back on Friday, April 19th, Jackson’s family states that they were told by the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department that Jackson had been arrested by a Burleson County Sheriff officer for a Class C, low-level misdemeanor offense of public intoxication.

The next day after Jackson’s arrest, on Saturday, April 20th, Jackson’s father states he received a call from the Burleson County Justice of the Peace advising him that his son had been officially released from jail and that he should come pick him up. When Jackson’s father told the Judge he was out of town and could not pick Jackson up himself, he promptly notified the Judge that Jackson’s mother could come pick him up from the jail instead.

This is where things get very disturbing.

When notified by Jackson’s father that Jackson needed to be picked up from jail, Jackson’s mother and girlfriend both hurried to go pick him up from the Burleson County jail. Upon arriving to the jail within an hour of receiving the phone call to come pick up Jackson, the two ladies were met by the Burleson County Justice of the Peace, along with Burleson County Deputy Nathaniel L. Graves.

It was then that Jackson’s mother states that the two men claimed that Jackson had suddenly become a danger and could not be released, despite having served his time on the alleged public intoxication charge.

Burleson County officials opted to maintain custody of Jackson, which prompted his mother to request a visit with her son to let him know they had arrived and make sure he was okay. According to his mother, her request was denied and so she left.

The next day, on Sunday, April 21st, Jackson’s mother states that she called the Burleson County jail to check on Jackson’s status, but was given no update. They also told her that Jackson could not be found, which caused her to become extremely worried, as most parents would. She heard absolutely nothing all day Sunday, but on Monday, April 22nd, that is when Jackson’s mother began to panic, as she finally received news about Jackson and it was not good. According to his mother, she was told that Jackson was no longer in the Burleson County jail, but had been transported to Austin where he was in the hospital on life support after needing to be resuscitated.

After finding out that Jackson was at St. David Hospital in Austin, the family rushed down to check on his condition. When they arrived at the hospital, they found Jackson connected to a life support machine and in a coma. Upon viewing his body, the family states they saw several mysterious puncture wounds that resembled Taser prong marks on various parts of his body.

When his mother spoke with Burleson County Sheriff Thomas Norsworthy, he stated to her that C.J. was released from jail the same way he entered the jail; in healthy physical condition. Sheriff Norsworthy did, however, apparently inform her that Jackson was allegedly suffering from sort of mental crisis. It was further communicated, according to the family, that one of Sheriff Norsworthy’s deputies, William C. Elkins, who began working at the Burleson County Sheriff’s department in November 2015 after being a reserve officer with Brazos County Constable Precinct 3 for one month, was the person who actually transported Jackson to Austin and released him to Cross Creek Hospital, where Jackson was allegedly in healthy physical condition.

According to their website, Cross Creek Hospital in Austin, TX, is a “behavioral health treatment center that provides inpatient treatment services for individuals who are struggling with mental health and substance abuse issues.”

So, if Jackson was dropped off in healthy physical condition at a mental health and substance abuse hospital in Austin nearly two hours away from the Burleson County jail, how did he end up in a coma on life support in ICU at an entirely different hospital shortly thereafter?

Jackson’s family decided to retain legal counsel to deal with this horrific ordeal that is full of questionable actions and limited details and information surrounding the case.

“All these facts point to foul play by each person involved with the custody and care of C.J., which is evident by the withholding of information to his family,” said civil rights attorney U.A. Lewis, who is representing the family alongside attorney Shardae Parker.

As far as some details go, it is known that Jackson ended up at St. David Hospital after being transferred from Cross Creek Hospital, but what is not known is if Jackson was ever admitted into Cross Creek Hospital after being taken their initially by Officer Elkins.

These things are unattainable at the moment, because Jackson is currently in ICU on life support and his family has not able to get any of his medical records according to the law.

“Since we have to gather information to file any legal action, we have to gather facts,” said Lewis. “We are seeking emergency guardianship so that his father and mother can gain basic information that is currently being shielded by HIPPA violation allegations.”

To date, there are no court records of Jackson’s official arrest, nor any court proceedings.

According to the family’s attorneys, Sheriff Thomas Norsworthy stated he had footage from his jail showing Jackson being released on Sunday, April 21st, in perfect physical condition, but has yet to make that footage available after numerous requests.

Lewis and Parker also state that they have requested records of the arrest, the charge, release documents, use of force reports and the jail surveillance footage depicting Jackson being physically fine when he was released from jail, but the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department has been stalling and has practically refused to provide any of the requested items to date.

“Withholding information at critical times like this goes on far more often than the public realizes, although they have a duty to release it,” said Parker.

Lewis states that they arelooking for community support from everywhere.

“We cannot allow this to go on in 2019.Many of us in Texas have spent time in the “country” and have relatives who still live there,” said Lewis. “Sandra Bland, like Emmett Till, was from Chicago. Do you think Emmett Till was the first to be killed in that town? The others had nobody from the outside to stand up for them. Sandra Bland’s death got attention because those from the outside spoke up. The Burleson County Sheriff’s Department is cooperative in promising information, but has failed to actually produce information. We need people from the outside to stand up for C.J. and share his story so the whole world can see. They need spotlight protection. We can handle the rest once we are in court.”

Burleson County is the neighboring county of Waller County, which is 60 miles west of where Sandra Bland was arrested and died within 3 days of her arrest back in 2015. Located within Burleson County,Caldwell is a small town between Austin and Houston, but also not far from Waco and Dallas, with a population of approximately 4,100. Caldwell is roughly 71 percent White and 13% African American.

By being a small town, the voices of Caldwell residents don’t get heard like those in larger cities, so it is important that those in larger cities speak up and out for Jackson and others like him.

There was recently a major protest rally and press conference held in front of the Burleson County Jail, where Jackson’s parents, girlfriend, children, the public, Black Lives Matter Houston, and the lawyers for the family gathered to demand justice for the young man.

Jackson’s father is having a difficult time understanding how a simple class C misdemeanor arrest could have ended like this. He and his son had recently invested in a landscaping business and had just got the business up and running. According to his father, he doesn’t know how he is going to be able to go on without the help of his son, because Jackson was the one responsible for completing the jobs, and he has now been left him to do everything.

According to Lewis, after they held their press conference, some interesting new developments have occurred that have increased optimism about learning what truly happened to Jackson.

First, the Texas Rangers have agreed to investigate, and have already begun an investigation into the matter. Secondly, the most interesting development involves the Caldwell Police Department in Caldwell, Texas.

According to Lewis, Caldwell Police Chief Charles Barnes confirmed this past week that one of their officers had been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation related to that officer’s alleged engagement with and possible misconduct towards Jackson.

This is an interesting turn of events, especially considering there has been little to no details provided to the family, attorneys or the media. It also doesn’t answer any questions or shed any light on what actually happened to Jackson between the time of his arrest and by the time he ended up in the hospital on life support battling for his life.

As it relates to Jackson, the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department was the arresting agency and the holding agency. So, if Jackson was arrested by the Burleson County Sheriff’s Department and taken to the Burleson County jail, why would there be any reason for Jackson to come in contact or have to interact with anyone from the Caldwell Police Department?

These questions have still gone unanswered by Caldwell Police Chief Barnes, Burleson County Sheriff Thomas Norsworthy or anyone else who was in contact with Jackson. In the meantime, the full reason for the Caldwell police officer being place on administrative leave is unknown at this time, however we do know that it is in connection with CJ, which raises tons of red flags.

In a statement released from Burleson County Sheriff Norsworthy, he states:

The Burleson County Sheriff’s Office is dedicated to doing what is right, legal and ethical. Mr. Chester Jackson and his family have our full sympathy. Since our first contact with Mr. Jackson in 2013, we have held Mr. Jackson’s safety and well-being in highest regard as we would for any member of the community.

The Burleson County Sheriff’s Office is committed to conducting a full and complete investigation into the actions and circumstances that have resulted in the current condition of Mr. Jackson, and to keeping Mr. Jackson’s family informed. At the conclusion of this investigation, all of our information will be made available to Mr. Jackson’s family and the community as appropriate.

We will continue to follow this case and hope to find out more critical information that can help shed light on what truly happened to Jackson last month.

Jeffrey Boney is a political analyst and frequent contributor for the NNPA Newswire and BlackPressUSA.com and the associate editor for the Houston Forward Times newspaper. Jeffrey is an award-winning journalist, dynamic, international speaker, experienced entrepreneur, business development strategist and founder and CEO of the Texas Business Alliance. Follow Jeffrey on Twitter @realtalkjunkies.

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Black Woman to Lead United States Park Police

 Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

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Pamela A. Smith

Pamela A. Smith, a 23-year veteran of the United States Park Police, will lead the nation’s oldest federal law enforcement agency.

Smith, who became the first African American woman to lead the 230-year-old agency, immediately remarked that she would establish a body-worn camera program for USPP within 90 days.

The program will initially begin in San Francisco and be implemented across the country by the end of the year, Smith said.

“Body-worn cameras are good for the public and good for our officers, which is why I am prioritizing implementing a body-worn camera program within my first 90 days,” Smith offered in a statement.

 “This is one of the many steps we must take to continue to build trust and credibility with the public we have been entrusted to serve.”

Smith earned a bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and graduated from the FBI National Academy. She is a member of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives and the International Association of Chiefs of Police.

During her law enforcement career, the proud Zeta Phi Beta Sorority sister has served as a patrol officer, field training officer, canine handler, and academy instructor at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center.

 According to a news release, Smith also served as executive lieutenant to the chief of police, assistant commander of the San Francisco Field Office, commander of the New York Field Office, acting deputy chief of the Homeland Security Division, and deputy chief for the Field Operations Division.

Smith was the first woman to lead the New York Field Office as its Major.

At the USPP, she will lead a 560-member workforce that protects the public, parks, and the nation’s most iconic landmarks in Wash., D.C., New York City, and San Francisco metropolitan areas.

“Chief Smith’s commitment to policing as public service and her willingness to listen and collaborate make her the right person to lead the U.S. Park Police at this pivotal moment in our country,” Shawn Benge, deputy director exercising the delegated authority of the NPS director, noted in a statement.

 “Over the coming months, the leadership of the National Park Service will explore opportunities with Chief Smith designed to strengthen our organization’s commitment to transparency. Her personal and professional experience make her acutely aware of and ready to meet the challenges and responsibilities that face U.S. Park Police and law enforcement agencies across the nation.”

 Jennifer Flynn, the associate director for Visitor Resource Protection at the National Park Service added that she’s looking forward to Smith’s leadership.

“Chief Smith’s experience serving in leadership roles in every U.S. Park Police field office has provided her with an unmatched foundation to lead the diverse agency,” said Flynn, who oversees law enforcement programs at USPP.

 “As federal law enforcement officers, the U.S. Park Police officers have a new opportunity each day to give their best to the American people. Chief Smith exemplifies that approach as a colleague and mentor, and she will be instrumental in refining and shaping the future of the organization,” Flynn said.

Smith declared that she would lead by example and expects all officers to display integrity.

 “I have dedicated my career to the professionalism of law enforcement, and it is my highest honor and privilege to serve as chief of police,” Chief Smith declared. “Today’s officers face many challenges, and I firmly believe challenges present opportunities. I look forward to leading this exemplary team as we carry out our mission with honesty and integrity.”  

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Children’s Defense Fund: State of America’s Children Reveals that 71 Percent of Children of Color Live in Poverty

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

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Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)
Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children. (Photo: iStockphoto / NNPA)

Part One of an ongoing series on this impactful and informative report.

By Stacy M. Brown, NNPA Newswire Senior National Correspondent
@StacyBrownMedia

The child population in America is the most diverse in history, but children remain the poorest age group in the country with youth of color suffering the highest poverty rates.

“While we reported on the 73 million children in the U.S. in 2019, which is 22 percent of the nation’s population, we also note that 2020 was the first year in American history that a majority of children are projected to be children of color,” said the Rev. Dr. Starsky Wilson, the president and CEO of the Children’s Defense Fund.

Dr. Wilson’s remarks come as the Marian Wright Edelman founded nonprofit released “The State of America’s Children 2021.”

The comprehensive report is eye-opening.

It highlights how children remain the poorest age group in America, with children of color and young children suffering the highest poverty rates. For instance, of the more than 10.5 million poverty-stricken children in America in 2019, approximately 71 percent were those of color.

The stunning exposé revealed that income and wealth inequality are growing and harming children in low-income, Black and Brown families.

While the share of all wealth held by the top one percent of Americans grew from 30 percent to 37 percent, the share held by the bottom 90 percent fell from 33 percent to 23 percent between 1989 and 2019.

Today, a member of the top 10 percent of income earners makes about 39 times as much as the average earner in the bottom 90 percent.

The median family income of White households with children ($95,700) was more than double that of Black ($43,900), and Hispanic households with children ($52,300).

Further, the report noted that the lack of affordable housing and federal rental assistance leaves millions of children homeless or at risk of homelessness.

More than 1.5 million children enrolled in public schools experienced homelessness during the 2017-2018 school year, and 74 percent of unhoused students during the 2017-2018 school year were living temporarily with family or friends.

Millions of children live in food-insecure households, lacking reliable access to safe, sufficient, and nutritious food, and more than 1 in 7 children – 10.7 million – were food insecure, meaning they lived in households where not everyone had enough to eat.

Black and Hispanic children were twice as likely to live in food-insecure households as White children.

The report further found that America’s schools have continued to slip backwards into patterns of deep racial and socioeconomic segregation, perpetuating achievement gaps.

For instance, during the 2017-2018 public school year, 19 percent of Black, 21 percent of Hispanic, and more than 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native school students did not graduate on time compared with only 11 percent of White students.

More than 77 percent of Hispanic and more than 79 percent of Black fourth and eighth grade public school students were not proficient in reading or math in 2019, compared with less than 60 percent of White students.

“We find that in the course of the last year, we’ve come to the point where our conversations about child well-being and our dialogue and reckoning around racial justice has really met a point of intersection, and so we must consider child well-being in every conversation about racial justice and quite frankly you can only sustainably speak of racial justice if we’re talking about the state of our children,” Dr. Wilson observed.

Some more of the startling statistics found in the report include:

  • A White public school student is suspended every six seconds, while students of color and non-White students are suspended every two seconds.
  • Conditions leading to a person dropping out of high school occur with white students every 19 seconds, while it occurs every nine seconds for non-White and students of color.
  • A White child is arrested every 1 minute and 12 seconds, while students of color and non-whites are arrested every 45 seconds.
  • A White student in public school is corporally punished every two minutes, while students of color and non-Whites face such action every 49 seconds.

Dr. Wilson asserted that federal spending “reflects the nation’s skewed priorities.”

In the report, he notes that children are not receiving the investment they need to thrive, and despite making up such a large portion of the population, less than 7.5 percent of federal spending went towards children in fiscal year 2020.

Despite Congress raising statutory caps on discretionary spending in fiscal years 2018 to 2020, children did not receive their fair share of those increases and children’s share of total federal spending has continued to decline.

“Children continue to be the poorest segment of the population,” Dr. Wilson demanded. “We are headed into a dark place as it relates to poverty and inequity on the American landscape because our children become the canary in the coal mine.”

Dr. Wilson did note that the Children’s Defense Fund is pleased about President Joe Biden’s American Rescue Plan, which, among other things, makes it easier for parents to keep their jobs and provides a lifeline for disadvantaged children.

The $1.9 trillion plan not only contained $1,400 checks for individuals, it includes monthly allowances and other elements to help reduce child poverty.

The President’s plan expands home visitation programs that help at-risk parents from pregnancy through early childhood and is presents universal access to top-notch pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds.

“The American Rescue Plan carried significant and powerful anti-poverty messages that will have remarkable benefits on the lives of children in America over the course of the next two years,” Dr. Wilson declared.

“The Children’s Defense Fund was quick to applaud the efforts of the President. We have worked with partners, including leading a child poverty coalition, to advance the ideas of that investment,” he continued.

“Most notably, the expansion of the child tax credit which has the impact of reducing poverty, lifting more than 50 percent of African American children out of poverty, 81 percent of Indigenous children, 45 percent of Hispanic children. It’s not only good policy, but it’s specifically good policy for Black and Brown children.”

Click here to view the full report.

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She Bought Freedom for Herself and Other Slaves Today a Park is Named in Her Honor

Alethia Browning Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised. 

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Alethia Browning Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

In her early years, Alethia Browning Tanner sold vegetables in a produce stall near President’s Square – now known as Lafayette Square – in what is now Northwest Washington, D.C.

According to the D.C. Genealogy Research, Resources, and Records, Tanner bought her freedom in 1810 and later purchased several relatives’ release.

She was the first woman on the Roll of Members of the Union Bethel AME Church (now Metropolitan AME Church on M Street), and Turner owned land and a store at 14th and H Streets, which she left to her nephews – one of whom later sold the property for $100,000.

Named in her honor, the Alethia Tanner Park is located at 227 Harry Thomas Way in Northeast DC.

The park sits near the corner of Harry Thomas Way and Q Street and is accessible by foot or bike via the Metropolitan Branch Trail, just north of the Florida Ave entrances.

“The first Council legislative meeting of Black History Month, the Council took a second and final vote on naming the new park for Alethia Tanner, an amazing woman who is more than worthy of this long-delayed recognition,” Ward 5 Councilman Kenyan McDuffie said in 2020 ahead of the park’s naming ceremony.

“[Her upbringing] itself would be a remarkable legacy, but Ms. Tanner was also active in founding and supporting many educational, religious, and civic institutions,” McDuffie remarked.

“She contributed funds to start the first school for free Black children in Washington, the Bell School. Feeling unwelcome at her predominately segregated church, she & other church members founded the Israel Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church. When the church fell on hard times and was sold at auction by creditors, she and her family stepped in and repurchased the church.”

Born in 1781 on a plantation owned by Tobias and Mary Belt in Prince George’s County, Maryland, historians noted that Tanner had two sisters, Sophia Bell and Laurena Cook.

“Upon the death of Mary Pratt (Tobias had predeceased his wife) in 1795, the plantation, known as Chelsea Plantation, was inherited by their daughter Rachel Belt Pratt,” historians wrote.

“Mary Belt’s will stipulated that Laurena be sent to live with a sibling of Rachel Pratt’s while Sophia and Alethia were to stay at the Chelsea Plantation.”

Tanner sold vegetables at the well-known market just north of the White House in Presidents Park. It is possible – and probable – she met Thomas Jefferson there as he was known to frequent the vegetable markets there along with other prominent early Washingtonians, according to historians at attacksadams.com. 

“There are also White House records suggesting she worked for Thomas Jefferson in some capacity, likely doing various housework tasks,” the researchers determined.

Tanner saved enough money to purchase her freedom in 1810. “The total amount, thought to have been paid in installments, was $1,400. In 1810, $1,400 was a significant amount; about the equivalent of three years’ earnings for an average skilled tradesperson,” attucksadams.com researchers surmised.

“Self-emancipation was not an option for all enslaved peoples, but both Alethia and her sister Sophia were able to accomplish this, almost entirely through selling vegetables at the market,” the researchers continued.

“Alethia Tanner moved to D.C. and became one of a significant and growing number of free Black people in the District. In 1800, 793 free Black people were living in D.C.

By 1810, there were 2,549, and by 1860, 11,131 free Black people lived in D.C., more than the number of enslaved peoples.”

Historians wrote that beginning at about 15 years after securing her manumission, Alethia Tanner worked to purchase the freedom of more than 20 of her relatives and neighbors, mostly the family of her older sister Laurana including Laurana herself, her children, and her grandchildren.

All in all, Tanner would have paid the Pratt family well over $5,000. All accomplished with proceeds from her own vegetable market business, they concluded.

“Alethia Tanner, it’s an amazing story of resilience, hard work, and perseverance,” D.C. Department of Parks and Recreation Director Delano Hunter said at the park’s dedication.

“I just learned about this history through this, so it shows how when you name a park, you really educate people on the historical significance.”

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