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Wal-Mart Scandal: Woman Faces 15 Yrs In Prison For Cutting In Line?

October 27, 2009

This story ended up in my email and I must say the headline grabbed me.  Woman, Wal-mart, cutting-in-line and prison…all those words in one sentence made me say, “WTF???”

Well, take a look at where we live, people.  Just because injustice isn’t happening in your backyard today, doesn’t mean it won’t chew you up tomorrow.  Be aware.

I am glad that people are taking time to notice this story.  I hope that you pass it along to all the people you know who are concerned about justice in America.  It’s about all of us.  We must be proactive and stand against injustice when it pops up.  Slam it like the ‘Whack-A-Mole” game you play at the carnival.  Slam it hard each time it comes back until we can influence our lawmakers to write laws to stop it!

From Dr Boyce Watkins
To the Your Black World family:
When the children of my assistant Shauntay (Justin and Journi) brought the case of Heather Ellis to me, I was in disbelief.  I was shocked that in 2009, a young college student, with no criminal record, could face 15 years in prison for cutting line at Walmart.  I was even more appalled by the threats from the KKK and allegations by local leaders that the town went as far as blacking out the local news coverage during the minutes that the family held a press conference in support of their daughter.  We sent information about the case to CNN and other media outlets, and they covered it (along with BET, Essence, ABC News and others), but I don’t feel this is enough…
Obviously, Heather’s legal defense is going to be expensive for the family.  If you wish to make a donation of any amount, please click here to do so. I assure you that this money will go right to the family’s legal fees – I’ll see to it that it is not used improperly.  If you wish to provide any other kind of support (i.e. putting together bus trips or sharing organizing experience), please click this link. You can also call (888) 315-1591.
Given that professors are usually trained to sit in the Ivory Tower and watch the world go by (which bothers me, since I think that Black Professors should be connected to our communities), I admit that I am still learning how all this works.  So, I would like to thank Attny. Elliot Millner, JD from Your Black World, Rev. Al Sharpton of the National Action Network, Rev. Dwight Montgomery from the Memphis chapter of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, King Downing, JD from the Sean Bell Coalition, and Rev. Jessie Bonner from the Sikeston, MO chapter of the NAACP, who have been quite helpful with this case. Of course, I thank Pastor Nathaniel Ellis, Heather’s father, who has represented the family with tremendous grace and dignity.
To find out more about this case, please visit Also, I’ve written some things about the case on MSNBC and AOL Black Voices as well.  We are going to fight like crazy for this girl, and I sure as heck don’t plan on losing.
God bless all of you,
Dr Boyce
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