Getting Rid of Fear and Ignorance: Houston Ministry of Justice bringing hope to the people of Livingston, Texas

by Jesse Muhammad

LIVINGSTON, Texas--The Black residents of Livingston, TX are fed with being ill-treated by the town’s justice system and police department. The Houston Ministry of Justice recently caravanned there for the second time to host an emergency town hall meeting, hear more of the complaints and offer solutions.

“We called this meeting tonight to let the brothers and sisters of Livingston know that we’re going to do our best to get the federal government involved. They need to intervene,” said activist Deric Muhammad.

“From what I understand, when a White young man from Livingston, Texas come and stand before a judge and a Black young man come before the same judge, and they both committed the same crime, the Black young man gets possibly ten times more time than the White young man because Livingston is no different than Mississippi in 1555,” said Muhammad.

Interestingly, this July 24 town hall meeting was initially scheduled to take place at Fellowship Church of God in Christ. In a strange twist of events, the pastor called the local organizers and refused to host the meeting just hours before it was to start. It was later shared that the pastor of that church has received funding from the city and thus many felt he was frightened by the opposition. This did not stop determined residents from moving the meeting to a local Mexican restaurant.

There is a thing called fear that is choking the life out of Black people all over the United States or America. I don’t understand what you’re afraid of. God cannot help a scared to death people. The scripture says God helps those who help themselves,” Muhammad emphasized.

The discussion centered on several cases such as T’Challa Washington. In his second offense, he was convicted of a drug charge involving 1.4 grams of cocaine. For this offense he was unbelievably sentenced to 78 years in prison.

His mother, Bonita Washington, was crying deeply as she talked about the plight of her son. “I have been praying to God to send someone what could help me. So this meeting is a blessing from God. I thank the Ministry of Justice for coming here and helping us. This is what we needed. We’ve been needing help for years and years,” she said.

Also present was Charles Wallace who was recently beaten by the police. He spent several days in ICU and is not functioning normally. He has received no explanation for the incident.

Christine Hansen had a hard time holding back tears. She was pregnant and lost her unborn child because she says she was refused medical treatment while in custody. She has a civil lawsuit pending against the city of Livingston.

Reginald Gordon, who founded Operation Outreach OG1 in Houston, said, “As men we have to set up programs dealing with the generation that’s coming behind us to build up these strong young men.”

Criminal attorney Sadiyah Evangelista presented the “Know Your Rights” segment of the town hall and she was flooded with many questions. “We have to have knowledge and information. We have been kept in the dark for so long that we don’t even know our rights,” she said.

Charles Maggadon, who was also unjustly beaten and accused of assaulting an officer, said “What she (Evangelista) shared was very helpful. She taught me something I didn’t know and hopefully it will take me a long way.”

The Ministry of Justice is planning a follow up meeting in Livingston slated for August 18.

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