Always whining about something…
By Keri Heath
Houston instigator Quanell Ralph “X” Evans and Candice “I’m a Cowgirl” Matthews with the Texas Coalition of black Democrats speaking to a reporter from The Daily News.
Members of local and state groups Wednesday demanded the Galveston Police Department change enforcement tactics after an April 24 slab car event drew claims of targeted enforcement and racial profiling of the predominantly Black visitors.
Officials argue the police presence and enforcement were no different than during any large event and have asked the car enthusiasts to get permits for future events.
Members of the Texas Coalition of Black Democrats and some concerned community members gathered Wednesday in front of the Galveston Police Department, 601 54th St., to express concern with police handling of the event.
Slab cars are high-gloss, candy-colored cars, often with wide elbow wheels. In June, a group of slab enthusiasts gathered on the island, leading to heavy congestion on Seawall Boulevard for hours and sparking ire from some residents.
But the coalition argued police shouldn’t have been wearing tactical gear for the April event and that police targeted the slabs, which are popular in Black culture, said Candice Matthews, statewide and Harris County chapter accountability chair for the coalition.
Island police should be able to handle traffic congestion without donning tactical gear and combing for minor infractions, Matthews said.
Among other things, Matthews pointed to police measuring the elbow wheels to see whether they exceeded the maximum state standard 8-foot width.
Police Chief Vernon Hale declined to comment after the press conference.
City Manager Brian Maxwell said that because the city wasn’t sure how many people were coming, it had to prepare for high estimates for crowds.
“Galveston is known for hosting big events, and we would like to work with anyone who wants to have an event here. But if they won’t work with us, we have to go about it a different way,” Maxwell said. “Somebody’s got to own it.”
The group also objected to an officer wearing a face mask with a black-and-grey American flag, saying it was a symbol promoting white supremacy, and protested the April 24 arrest of Andre Terrell Malone, a Black man.
Malone, who spoke Wednesday, said he was beaten and shocked with a Taser stun gun by officers.
“I was pulled over,” Malone said. “I was never asked to show my ID. The immediate action of the police was to try to pull me out of the car.”
Malone declined to take questions.
The arrest report for Malone lists three charges: resist of arrest, search or transportation; failure to identify; and a warrant from Fort Bend County for driving without a license.
Hale said Tuesday the department was reviewing the incident.
Quanell X, leader of the New Black Panther Party, said the tactical gear and policing were heavier than they would have been for other events.
“Why is it when they have big Mardi Gras in this city, why is it when they have big gatherings in this city that are not Black-oriented, that are not majority Black participating, there is a difference in policing?” he said.
Maxwell denied the assertion policing was more heavy-handed on April 24 and said police wear tactical gear for Mardi Gras and Lone Star Rally too.
Permitting is important for police because it indicates how many officers should be on hand for events, said Phillip Lyons, dean of the School of Criminal Justice at Sam Houston State University.
Without that permit, officers have to guess based on past similar events, he said.
“The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior,” Lyons said.
Officers also are allowed to stop vehicles if they suspect something is wrong or out of place, Lyons said.
“This issue has gone all the way up to the Supreme Court, and they have affirmed the practice,” Lyons said.
But Galvestonians at the press conference said there was a difference April 24.
The Galveston County Democratic Party voiced support for the coalition.
Patricia Toliver, second vice president to the local NAACP chapter, sees the April 24 events as racial profiling, she said.
“I’m really disappointed in our city,” Toliver said.
Native islander Roxy Hall Williamson enjoys riding in slab cars and attending slab events. This was different, she said.
“They’ve been all over this state,” Hall Williamson said. “Galveston Island was the only place they ran into problems with the police.”
Slab community members were spending money on the island in hotel rooms and restaurants, she said.
Matthews and Quanell X in the press conference said Hale had discussed with them referring Malone’s case to the district attorney’s office and requiring the department to approve masks worn by officers, but Hale did not confirm that with The Daily News.
https://www.galvnews.com/news/article_a7e8db73-6b2c-5de2-88af-f5e82fb18e92.html (Subscription required)