Clarence Brandley: A legacy of perseverance and struggle

first_imgHouston — Death row exoneree #40, Clarence Brandley, was honored and remembered at his funeral on Sept. 14. His five children, other relatives, his attorneys, investigators and members of the Coalition to Free Clarence Brandley helped fill the large New Loyalty Missionary Baptist Church in northeast Houston. Dozens of members of his high school graduating class attended, as did Texas Rep. Harold Dutton, who introduces a bill every session to abolish the death penalty. Brandley died Sept. 2 at age 66.Brandley was on death row for 10 years after a high school student, Cheryl Dee Fergeson, was murdered at a volleyball tournament in 1980. Brandley was the supervisor of the custodial staff at Conroe High School, 40 miles north of Houston, and the only African American on the staff.During a supposed investigation, Texas Ranger Wesley Styles told two janitors, “One of you all is going to have to hang for this.” Pointing to Brandley, he said, “Since you’re the n****r, you’re elected.” Six months later Brandley was on Texas death row, convicted by an all-white jury in a town where the KKK still held regular meetings.Conditions on death row were horrific. In the summer, temperatures in the cells rose to 130 degrees. Medical care was almost nonexistent and the food was awful. Guards were racist, violent and cruel. A group of guards who worked the solitary confinement section called themselves the “White Is Right Squad.”Brandley joined other prisoners in a chain hunger strike in protest. A couple of prisoners would strike a week or two, and then another two prisoners would take the next weeks. This went on for more than a year.During that time, the number of people on death row had rapidly grown to well over 400. The entire Texas prison population had seen a big increase as well. The Texas Department of Corrections had been found liable for cruel and unusual punishment, in violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Eighth Amendment, in the historic 1979 Ruiz v. Estelle case. The federal court ordered massive changes in 1980, but Texas prison officials resisted.Brandley’s family, and particularly his brother Ozell, never gave up on freeing him. Ozell helped form the Coalition to Free Clarence Brandley, which met at Houston’s S.H.A.P.E. Community Center every Tuesday night for years.“I was always wishing and hoping that someone would just look at the evidence and the facts, because the evidence was clear that I did not commit the crime,” said Brandley from death row.The coalition relentlessly took every avenue to call attention to the case and build public support. It held mock trials, marched, protested, packed courtrooms, held a freedom ride to major shopping areas and printed T shirts. Group members slept outside the Montgomery County Courthouse while the Klan rode around the square.The coalition held community forums in Conroe and Houston, and members put cow manure on the steps of the governor’s mansion. They released 100 balloons reading “FREE CLARENCE!” in the rotunda of the Texas Capitol. They met with the Black Legislative Caucus and raised thousands of dollars for investigators.In 1987 new evidence was discovered, and witnesses finally told the truth. An evidentiary hearing was held in Galveston before retired District Judge Perry Pickett. More than 150 people attended every day for two weeks, coming 85 miles from Conroe and 45 from Houston. “60 Minutes” and “The 700 Club” aired special television programs on the case. Centurion Ministries got involved.Finally, that October, Judge Pickett declared, in his 30 years as a judge, “No case has presented a more shocking scenario of the effects of racial prejudice, perjured testimony, witness intimidation [and] an investigation the outcome of which was predetermined.” He said two other janitors, both white, were the likely killers, and officials had railroaded Brandley out of racist motives.He recommended to the state’s Court of Criminal Appeals that a new trial be held. It took that court 14 long months before it finally accepted the recommendation. Texas decided not to retry Brandley.Clarence walks out — and into organizingClarence Brandley walked out of the Ellis Unit prison in January 1990. He spent the next 28 years speaking out against the death penalty.In small neighborhood churches, universities and the Texas Legislature, Brandley’s story has changed hearts and minds and motivated many to fight for abolition.Brandley joined Witness To Innocence, an organization composed exclusively of death row exonerees. WTI empowers exonerees to speak out about their own stories and the injustices of capital punishment. They play a powerful role in the movement to abolish the death penalty. (witnesstoinnocence.org)WTI is sending five exonerees to speak and organize at Texas’s 19th Annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty, to be held on Oct. 20. Brandley spoke at the march for many years. As Brandley had done, these exonerees will speak to university students, religious institutions and legislators while in Texas.Brandley’s case sparked worldwide interest in the death penalty. British writer Nick Davies came to Texas to write an article, stayed for an extended period and wrote a compelling book, “White Lies: Rape, Murder and Justice Texas Style.” The Showtime television network made a movie based on the book. Davies attended the funeral.Clarence Brandley will be missed by so many for his quick smile and honesty, ability to captivate any audience and dedication to abolish the racist death penalty.FacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thisFacebookTwitterWhatsAppEmailPrintMoreShare thislast_img read more

Positive Pending Homes Sales Data Comes With Caveat

Home / Daily Dose / Positive Pending Homes Sales Data Comes With Caveat Positive Pending Homes Sales Data Comes With Caveat The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago  Print This Post About Author: Xhevrije West Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Existing-home sales suffered last month due to the continuous imbalance of extremely low inventory levels and rapid home price appreciation.The NAR reported that existing-home sales decreased 7.1 percent to a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 5.08 million in February from 5.47 million in January. However, the report noted that despite last month’s large decline, sales remain 2.2 percent higher than a year ago. Existing-home sales do not appear to be slowing down home prices appreciation. According to the NAR, the median existing-home price in February was $210,800, up 4.4 percent from last February’s median price of $201,900. This marks the 48th consecutive month of year-over-year gains.”Any further moderation in prices would be a welcome development this spring,” Yun stated. “Particularly in the West, where it appears a segment of would-be buyers are becoming wary of high asking prices and stiff competition.”The NAR expects existing-homes sales this year to be around 5.38 million, up 2.4 percent from 2015. The national median existing-home price for all of this year is expected to increase between 4 and 5 percent.Chief Economist of Realtor.com, Jonathan Smoke noted, “Low inventories and tight credit will limit the gains we will see in 2016. However, given the level of pent-up demand evident in web activity and stated buyer intentions for 2016, we should see this spring materialize as the busiest season of sales since 2006.”Click here to view the full pending home sales report released Monday. Previous: Digging Deeper Into the Declining Homeownership Rate Next: DS News Webcast: Tuesday 3/29/2016 Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Sign up for DS News Daily Share Save Related Articles Mortgage contract signings began 2016 on a low note, falling to their lowest level in a year after hitting its highest average year in nearly a decade due to two pressing factors that are keeping buyers out of the market: inventory and home prices.However, despite the rough start to the year, pending home sales recently rose to their highest level in seven months and are still higher than a year ago.The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reported Monday that its Pending Home Sales Index rose 3.5 percent to 109.1 in February from a downwardly revised 105.4 in January and is now up 0.7 percent from 108.3 in February 2015.The NAR noted that although the index has now increased year-over-year for 18 consecutive months, the annual gain last month was the smallest.NAR Chief Economist Lawrence Yun said, “After some volatility this winter, the latest data is encouraging in that a decent number of buyers signed contracts last month, lured by mortgage rates dipping to their lowest levels in nearly a year and a modest, seasonal uptick in inventory. Looking ahead, the key for sustained momentum and more sales than last spring is a continuous stream of new listings quickly replacing what’s being scooped up by a growing pool of buyers. Without adequate supply, sales will likely plateau.”Collingwood Managing Director Thomas Cronin said of the pending home sales report, “It seems that the key here, is the fact that this is the 18th straight month of improvement. Yes, we could use more supply, yes, we could use more new construction at the lower end yes, we would like rates to remain low. But at the end of the day, this has been a solid performance.”Ten-X Chief Marketing Officer Rick Sharga was among the housing experts who were more cautious about celebrating the pending home sales report or calling it a comeback, saying “The year-over-year number is the one to pay attention to. Last year, March home sales fell,off dramatically after a very strong February. With pending home sales up a scant 0.7 percent from last year, it seems like March existing home sales may not give us much to get excited about.”Sharga continued, “The dramatic increase in pending home sales from January to February probably has more to do with January numbers being extremely low (and revised downward for this report), and some delays in contract execution due to bad weather in the Northeast and Midwest, which both had significant month-over-month gains.”Source: National Association of Home Builders Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Xhevrije West is a talented writer and editor based in Dallas, Texas. She has worked for a number of publications including The Syracuse New Times, Dallas Flow Magazine, and Bellwethr Magazine. She completed her Bachelors at Alcorn State University and went on to complete her Masters at Syracuse University. Servicers Navigate the Post-Pandemic World 2 days ago The Best Markets For Residential Property Investors 2 days ago in Daily Dose, Featured, News The Week Ahead: Nearing the Forbearance Exit 2 days ago Demand Propels Home Prices Upward 2 days ago Tagged with: Housing Inventory Housing Supply National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Ten-X Governmental Measures Target Expanded Access to Affordable Housing 2 days ago Data Provider Black Knight to Acquire Top of Mind 2 days ago Housing Inventory Housing Supply National Association of Realtors Pending Home Sales Ten-X 2016-03-28 Brian Honea March 28, 2016 9,486 Views Subscribe read more