2007-03-24

Paris, TX Injustice-Shaquanda Cotton



I am posting a link to this blog : Free Shaquanda Cotton

She is a 14 year old girl in jail for pushing a teachers aide at school. She has no previous record, and the aide was not seriously injured (no hospitalization required), was she wrong to push the aide? Yes. Does seven years in jail equal pushing a teacher aide? NO.

The same judge gave a white 14 year old probation for burning down her parents home. Why such drastic differences in treatment? This is a serious injustice that needs to be addressed. If you would like you can write a letter to the Judge that handed out this ridiculous sentence here:


Honorable M.C. (Chuck) Superville, Jr., Judge
Lamar County Courthouse
119 North Main
Paris, TX 75460
Phone # 903-737-2410
Fax # 903-785-3858

Or you can write a letter to Texas Governor Rick Perry here.

Having lived in Paris, TX for a few years growing up, I can tell you I am honestly not surprised by this cruelty displayed by this judge.


To some in Paris, sinister past is back
In Texas, a white teenager burns down her family's home and receives probation. A black one shoves a hall monitor and gets 7 years in prison. The state NAACP calls it `a signal to black folks.'

By Howard Witt
Tribune senior correspondent
Published March 12, 2007

PARIS, Texas -- The public fairgrounds in this small east Texas town look ordinary enough, like so many other well-worn county fair sites across the nation. Unless you know the history of the place.

There are no plaques or markers to denote it, but several of the most notorious public lynchings of black Americans in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries were staged at the Paris Fairgrounds, where thousands of white spectators would gather to watch and cheer as black men were dragged onto a scaffold, scalded with hot irons and finally burned to death or hanged.

Brenda Cherry, a local civil rights activist, can see the fairgrounds from the front yard of her modest home, in the heart of the "black" side of this starkly segregated town of 26,000. And lately, Cherry says, she's begun to wonder whether the racist legacy of those lynchings is rebounding in a place that calls itself "the best small town in Texas."

"Some of the things that happen here would not happen if we were in Dallas or Houston," Cherry said. "They happen because we are in this closed town. I compare it to 1930s."

There was the 19-year-old white man, convicted last July of criminally negligent homicide for killing a 54-year-old black woman and her 3-year-old grandson with his truck, who was sentenced in Paris to probation and required to send an annual Christmas card to the victims' family.

There are the Paris public schools, which are under investigation by the U.S. Education Department after repeated complaints that administrators discipline black students more frequently, and more harshly, than white students.

And then there is the case that most troubles Cherry and leaders of the Texas NAACP, involving a 14-year-old black freshman, Shaquanda Cotton, who shoved a hall monitor at Paris High School in a dispute over entering the building before the school day had officially begun.

The youth had no prior arrest record, and the hall monitor--a 58-year-old teacher's aide--was not seriously injured. But Shaquanda was tried in March 2006 in the town's juvenile court, convicted of "assault on a public servant" and sentenced by Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville to prison for up to 7 years, until she turns 21.

Just three months earlier, Superville sentenced a 14-year-old white girl, convicted of arson for burning down her family's house, to probation.

"All Shaquanda did was grab somebody and she will be in jail for 5 or 6 years?" said Gary Bledsoe, an Austin attorney who is president of the state NAACP branch. "It's like they are sending a signal to black folks in Paris that you stay in your place in this community, in the shadows, intimidated."

The Tribune generally does not identify criminal suspects younger than age 17, but is doing so in this case because the girl and her family have chosen to go public with their story.

None of the officials involved in Shaquanda's case, including the local prosecutor, the judge and Paris school district administrators, would agree to speak about their handling of it, citing a court appeal under way.

But the teen's defenders assert that long before the September 2005 shoving incident, Paris school officials targeted Shaquanda for scrutiny because her mother had frequently accused school officials of racism.

Retaliation alleged

"Shaquanda started getting written up a lot after her mother became involved in a protest march in front of a school," said Sharon Reynerson, an attorney with Lone Star Legal Aid, who has represented Shaquanda during challenges to several of the disciplinary citations she received. "Some of the write-ups weren't fair to her or accurate, so we felt like we had to challenge each one to get the whole story."

Among the write-ups Shaquanda received, according to Reynerson, were citations for wearing a skirt that was an inch too short, pouring too much paint into a cup during an art class and defacing a desk that school officials later conceded bore no signs of damage.

Shaquanda's mother, Creola Cotton, does not dispute that her daughter can behave impulsively and was sometimes guilty of tardiness or speaking out of turn at school--behaviors that she said were manifestations of Shaquanda's attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, for which the teen was taking prescription medication.

Nor does Shaquanda herself deny that she pushed the hall monitor after the teacher's aide refused her permission to enter the school before the morning bell--although Shaquanda maintains that she was supposed to have been allowed to visit the school nurse to take her medication, and that the teacher's aide pushed her first.

But Cherry alleges that Shaquanda's frequent disciplinary write-ups, and the insistence of school officials at her trial that she deserved prison rather than probation for the shoving incident, fits in a larger pattern of systemic discrimination against black students in the Paris Independent School District.

In the past five years, black parents have filed at least a dozen discrimination complaints against the school district with the federal Education Department, asserting that their children, who constitute 40 percent of the district's nearly 4,000 students, were singled out for excessive discipline.

An attorney for the school district, Dennis Eichelbaum, said the Education Department had determined all of the complaints to be unfounded.

"The [department] has explained that the school district has not and does not discriminate, that the school district has been a leader and very progressive when it comes to race relations, and that there was no validity to the allegations made by the complainants," Eichelbaum said.

Not so clear

But the federal investigations of the school district are not so clear-cut, and they are not finished. In one 2004 finding, Education Department officials determined that black students at a Paris middle school were being written up for disciplinary infractions more than twice as often as white students--and eight times as often in one category, "class disruption."

The Education Department asked the U.S. Justice Department to try to mediate disputes between black parents and the district, but school officials pulled out of the process last December before it was concluded.

And in April 2006, the Education Department notified Paris school officials that it was opening a new, comprehensive review to determine "whether the district discriminated against African-American students on the basis of race" between 2004 and 2006. Federal officials say that investigation is still in progress.

According to one veteran Paris teacher, who asked not to be named for fear of retribution, such discrimination is widespread.

"There is a philosophy of giving white kids a break and coming down on black kids," said the teacher, who is white.

Not everyone in Paris agrees, however, that blacks are treated unfairly by the city's institutions.

"I've lived here all my life, and I don't see that," said Mary Ann Reed Fisher, one of two black members of the Paris City Council. "My kids went to Paris High School, and they never had one minute of a problem with the school system, the courts or the police."

A peculiar inmate

Meanwhile, Shaquanda, a first-time offender, remains something of an anomaly inside the Texas Youth Commission prison system, where officials say 95 percent of the 2,500 juveniles in their custody are chronic, serious offenders who already have exhausted county-level programs such as probation and local treatment or detention.

"The Texas Youth Commission is reserved for those youth who are most violent or most habitual," said commission spokesman Tim Savoy. "The whole concept of commitment until your 21st birthday should be recognized as a severe penalty, and that's why it's typically the last resort of the juvenile system in Texas."

Inside the youth prison in Brownwood where she has been incarcerated for the past 10 months--a prison currently at the center of a state scandal involving a guard who allegedly sexually abused teenage inmates--Shaquanda, who is now 15, says she has not been doing well.

Three times she has tried to injure herself, first by scratching her face, then by cutting her arm. The last time, she said, she copied a method she saw another young inmate try, knotting a sweater around her neck and yanking it tight so she couldn't breathe. The guards noticed her sprawled inside her cell before it was too late.

She tried to harm herself, Shaquanda said, out of depression, desperation and fear of the hardened young thieves, robbers, sex offenders and parole violators all around her whom she must try to avoid each day.

"I get paranoid when I get around some of these girls," Shaquanda said. "Sometimes I feel like I just can't do this no more--that I can't survive this."

I don't know if I should be shocked at the clinic or the couple...it is a damn shame all around


Ok so you ended up with the wrong child. Give her up if she is such a burden, you don't love her as your own because you feel she isn't even the same race as you, even though she looks the same exact skin tone of the wife. Who even though she claims is hispanic, is obviously of slave descent, like a lot of the Dominican Republic. What a damn shame you are so scarred because your daughter is black. Would you have had the same complaint if the sperm was of a random white man. These people are sick, and I hope their child never learns of their disdain of her. I hope to hell they give her up to a LOVING family, because these people aren't even fit to have biological children, much less this child. Love of a child can't be conditional, this is just wrong.

http://abclocal.go.com/kgo/story?section=bizarre&id=5137073


Wrong Sperm Gives Couple Black Daughter
AP

Mar. 22 - A New York couple is suing a fertility clinic that mistakenly used another man's sperm to artificially inseminate the woman's eggs. The couple is white and Hispanic.
A couple can proceed with a lawsuit against a fertility clinic they filed after the wife gave birth to a daughter whose skin they thought was too dark to be their child, a judge has ruled.

Thomas and Nancy Andrews, of Commack, N.Y., sued New York Medical Services for Reproductive Medicine, accusing the Manhattan clinic of medical malpractice and other offenses. They claim the Park Avenue clinic used another man's sperm to inseminate Nancy Andrews' eggs.

Three DNA tests a home kit and two professional laboratory tests confirmed that Thomas Andrews was not the baby's biological father, state Supreme Court Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam quoted the couple as saying.

The couple says that they have been forced to raise a child who is "not even the same race, nationality, color & as they are," the judge said in the ruling.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, came to light Wednesday after the judge issued a decision that allows them to proceed with parts of the lawsuit while dismissing other parts.

The judge quoted the couple as saying that after their daughter, Jessica, was born Oct. 19, 2004, they knew something was wrong because of her physical appearance.

They say that "while we love Baby Jessica as our own, we are reminded of this terrible mistake each and every time we look at her; it is simply impossible to ignore," the judge's decision said.

The judge, in her ruling made public Wednesday, dismissed the claims against Dr. Martin Keltz, who had advised the procedure and had performed the embryo implantation.

She allowed the case to proceed against Dr. Reginald Puckett as owner of the clinic but threw out the case against him as an individual.

In trying to have the lawsuit against Puckett dismissed, his lawyer, Martin B. Adams, told the court that Puckett "did not examine, communicate with, care for or treat plaintiffs."

The judge found Carlo Acosta, the non-physician embryologist who processed the egg and sperm for creation of an embryo, also could be held liable.

The couple's lawyer, Howard J. Stern, did not immediately return a telephone call for comment.

Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.