"Raising Hell Till Heaven Comes": At Sunday's Fund-Raising Rally For John Wiley Price

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Yesterday's "Justice for John" event at the St. Luke "Community" United Methodist Church was all kinds of things: a rally in support of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price, who entered to chants of "John! John! John!" before taking his seat near the back; a fund-raiser for his legal defense that raised upwards of $10,000; an impromptu drum jam and a concert featuring one of the most wondrous glory-hallelujah choirs in town; a history lesson of black oppression from slavery to the birth of 14-1 at Dallas City Hall; and a recitation of every conspiracy theory ever to involve the federal government, save for Who Killed JFK.

Among those mentioned: Martin Luther King Jr., Paul Robeson, COINTELPRO, Billie Holiday's "Strange Fruit," Louis Farrakhan, Wen Ho Lee, Al Lipscomb, J. Edgar Hoover, the KGB, Fruhmenschen, Harold Ford Sr., Elsie Faye Heggins, Santos Rodríguez, Roy Orr, Robert Kennedy, Casey Anthony, John F. Street, Anthony Weiner, Coretta Scott King, Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Walker Consent Decree, Tasby v Estes. Among the songs performed: The O'Jays "For The Love Of Money," its thumping bass line providing the sound track to a cash-collecting effort led by the bold-faced names in attendance.

The pulpit was packed with the familiar (Rev. Zan Holmes, former council member Diane Ragsdale, activist John Fullinwider, Dallas NAACP President Dr. Juanita Wallace) and the famous (Georgetown professor and author Michael Eric Dyson). Out in the audience sat other local leaders: council member Carolyn Davis (who held a basket to collect checks), Dallas Independent School District trustee Bernadette Nutall (who donated $100 to the cause), Dallas Urban League CEO Beverly Mitchell Brooks (who gave $250), former council member Leo Chaney and thousand-dollar donor Dr. Frederick Haynes of Friendship-West among them. Council member Vonciel Jones Hill sent her apologies for being out of town, but wanted Price to know she "stood with you, by you and for you."

Pastors offered their prayers for the man under investigation by the FBI. New Beginnings' Pastor Rodney Frazier opened by thanking God "for his life, for his legacy, for his loyalty." Holmes opened his remarks by saying, "I thank God for him." Tyrone D. Gordon, senior pastor at St. Luke, quoted 1 Kings 18:17 and then reworked it just a bit: He looked at Price and smiled at him -- "you troubler of Dallas." Said Gordon, to loud applause and thunderous amens, "We're here to support the troublemaker."

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Rev. Zan Holmes
Gordon, serving as emcee, promised a "hell-raising rally ... we're gonna raise hell till heaven comes." And he did not disappoint: The Justice for John event was a spiritual spectacle drenched in politics and populated by 1,000 faithful followers who believe Price is being targeted by the FBI for one simple reason: He's a powerful black man who "is not afraid to speak for us," as Dr. Ouida Lee put it. Price, she said, "is a vocal challenger of the status quo," and just one more "civil rights leader picked out and picked on."

Such was the theme of the afternoon that sunset into evening: Price is no longer just Our Man Downtown, but Our Martyr Downtown too -- a man once again pronounced guilty before he's even been indicted.

"If you're going to investigate him," said Holmes, "investigate the good he's done. You can't narrow his life down to one investigation. ... He's not perfect. None of us is perfect. The FBI's not perfect." The crowd roared. "The criminal justice system's not perfect." Holmes them mentioned DNA exonerees freed from prison after decades behind bars, serving time for crimes they did not commit.

"Dallas is not perfect," he said. "But John Wiley Price's cause is perfect. ... [And] I'm not gonna let any jive investigation throw me off course."

Ragsdale opened her remarks thusly: "Good afternoon to the members of the FBI." She then ran through a quick history lesson -- from 3/5 to 14-1. "This is not the first time the FBI has attempted to destroy our leadership and our political base, and this won't be the last," she said. "The enemy has organized a concerted effort to victimize and harass our leaders and weaken our power by drumming our leaders out of the office. The tables have turned, and it's so obvious."

At which point Ragsdale mentioned something underscored on the slick, thick handout given to attendees -- Point No. 2, matter of fact, which says that Price "increased Dallas County resources going into the Black and Latino communities since 1984 from only $50,000 to over $350,000,000 in 2010, thus 'bringing home the bacon' to our people." Again and again speakers would return to the point: that Price's election 27 years ago meant spreading the wealth from the north to, finally, the south.

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Michael Eric Dyson
"John Wiley Price," said Ragsdale, "is a victim of an aggressive assault. Power to the people."

Fullinwider insisted that the FBI investigation stems from the Dallas Citizens Council's losing its grip on politics and power with the election of Elsie Faye Heggins to the Dallas City Council in 1980, then Price's election to the commissioners court in '84. No longer would Dallas's "top white businessmen [tell] everyone what to do," and "when you scare a bunch of white people and take their contracts, they don't say, 'Thank you.'" He then proffered a history of FBI investigations that proved fruitless, harmful -- from MLK to Wen Ho Lee to peace activists targeted as terrorists before and shortly after the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. And he cautioned that investigations like this one only serve to "deepen racial division in our city."

Dyson, the Georgetown prof familiar to viewers of Meet the Press and Bill Maher's HBO show, said no one paid him to attend; he flew in all on his lonesome to support his friend, "this giant of a figure" being persecuted by the FBI -- which, he said, has come to mean "For Brothers to be Indicted, I'm not sure." Said Dyson, "He may be your man downtown, but he's my man everywhere." And it was Dyson who led the money-collecting, exhorting the audience to "dig deep in your pocketbook like you're trying to buy some stuff you want. The good stuff -- food, hair, make-up, perfume."

Dyson was unapologetic in his support for Price, insisting that even "if they caught him on tape with his hand in a jar, rewound it and put it out on DVD, I'd be right there." Not that he supports the law-breaker, he said, but because he doesn't trust the law-enforcer. "I will never abandon a friend no matter what the circumstance is." At the very least, he exhorted, Price should at least be afforded the presumption of innocence till the feds make their case. But, he said, so far this has been nothing short of "judicial pornography," a tale half-told through incomplete media accounts filled with the contents of search warrants that, as of yet, don't add up to anything other than conjecture and speculation.

"And I don't believe in premature emasculation," he said to deafening cheers. "When we look at the history of assault on our leadership, we know that articulate, intelligent, flamboyant, visible, good-looking, nice car-driving, nice suit-wearing Negroes cause a problem." And he suggested that perhaps the feds were going after Price for one simple reason: He's good with the ladies. "Psycho-sexual jealousy is the reason for castration -- to cut off black potency at its root. Because if they can control the black phallus ..."

He explained away the money allegedly found in Price's safe (after the economic collapse, he said, "you'd keep money in your safe") and the cars in his garage ("Goddammit, can't I look good while I'm doing well?"), spoke of his cornrows as proof a powerful man can connect to the "most degraded, most vulnerable  members of our community") and even mentioned Price's beefcake calendar of a decade ago. Dyson got laughs, but always returned to his message, which was, boiled down, this:

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Haven't seen Leo Chaney in a while ...
"Today him, tomorrow us, because he is us. He's our symbol. He's our commissioner. I love this man [who's] under assault by a government agency whose record is not spotless when it comes to people like us. Pray for him on your knees. And open your pocketbooks."

Jeffery Muhammad of the Nation of Islam said Price, like Farrakhan, was being targeted for being a "powerful black man"; Vincent Hall, Price's office manager and the organizer of the event, suggested a boycott of the Dallas Morning News for its unheard-of request for readers to "Help us cover the FBI's John Wiley Price investigation"; and Wattley insisted that attorneys aren't getting rich representing John Wiley Price."

Price stayed till the very end, heading out only briefly -- to thank those wandering the hallways who'd just donated to his defense fund, to hug and handshake his supporters. But otherwise he remained silent. No need to speak up when others are willing to do it for you.
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Ben Dover
Ben Dover

"Raisin' Hell"? Sounds like a sinful party already to me. And, "heaven" ain't comin' to party on with the Price master and his buds those sin free church women.Does your church regularly old political fund raisers? Since Price hasn't been charged with anything,yet, then it was just a fundraiser in violation of the IRS statutes that keep this church from becoming a taxable entity.Shouldn't they have been doing this for those wrongfully convicted people? Well, my old Daddy used to say the "hurt dog yelped first"...I do hear Price yelpin'. I wager he'll be poplualr in a nice Federal prison.Can I have hiis Bentley? I want to raffle it off to repay Dallas County for bills it should never have had to pay and for all of the time Price and others have wasted at taxpayer expense. Maybe let Watkins use it untill it's his turn

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Oh, wait a minute. How did I Miss the phalluls reference. Oh, man, I should have gone.... and I would have started singing Lilly Allen's song, "It's Not Fair." Look it up.... They are throwing EVERYTHIG too soon, oh, how the mighty have fallen. Who uses the term "negro" anymore? Not any white person I know, and certainly not anyone under 50.... And again, define "assault," J W P supporters. Come on...

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

Dyson was right, justice in his (and many peoples) eyes means that finally black leaders as well as white leaders can get away with ripping off their constituents.  

LesliO
LesliO

Sounds like the only music that should have been playing during that speech would go something like "Bow chicky bow wow".  That kind of talk in church?  Where are my smelling salts (says the fainting white girl)?  I can only imagine JWP sitting in the back row beaming with pride as his "phallus" is being praised at the pulpit.  You can't make this sh*t up!  Look out Reverend Cleophus James, there's a new preacher in town.

CR
CR

Yeah these people on South Dallas Island think they deserve special treatment from the whole wide world and don't have to work for anything.  The blacks with more sense have already moved to promise lands of Plano, Carrollton and other suburbs.  Nobody outside DFW knows or cares who John Wiley Price is or about his self-segregated cult followers, but in their deluded arrogance they all think he has some national significance, like MLK (Un-friggin-believable!).  Price is just a small-time, corrupt, scoundrel nobody on a trashy small island called South Dallas and his days of fast cars and fast women in the Projects are quickly coming to an end.

Larry
Larry

Doesn't "Justice for JWP" also mean, "if he did the crime, he does the time"???

or am I supposed to buy in to the double standard, race card, guilt crapola....

JSmith
JSmith

Where can I send my donation for the prosecution fund?

Americano
Americano

The Klan is dead, but obviously racism is not.

Jerry72b
Jerry72b

I new JWP 40 years ago when we worked together at Sanger Harris at the old Big Town Mall..... You know what they say about teaching Old Dogs New Tricks, I wonder if this goes for folks like JWP? Anyway, he was far from the warrior against racial injustices. However, twenty years ago I told Dallas County that I had enough. He can have that town and I moved my fam to Collin County. It just makes me irk inside when I see people praise him has some sort of warrior for racial equality when he IS NOT! I would repeat some of the things he said to me (a teenage white kid) but they might be too vulgar and full of negative racial slurs.

Balch Springs Citizen
Balch Springs Citizen

Hey Jerry-

He has called me names also and I am a black 40 something man.  This man has no respect for other people views or opinions.  It's either his way or you are going to get cursed out. 

Balch Springs Citizen
Balch Springs Citizen

Wow...the church is SUPPOSE to be the the HOUSE OF GOD, not a place to rally behind an elected official.  These ministers/pastors should be ashamed of themselves, there should have been a hell fire sermon, that some sinner would have came to the altar asking what must I do to be saved.  They messed the whole point of attending church.  

Catbird
Catbird

"Not that he supports the law-breaker, he said, but because he doesn't trust the law-enforcer."...well, in this case the FBI worls for a black guy named Eric Holder who answers to a black guy named Barack Obama.

These guys are the BORG.

richard schumacher
richard schumacher

There's honest hunger here for pride and prosperity. How long can that hunger be satisfied with a twinkie? 

Ben Dover
Ben Dover

Diane Ragsdale,oh how we don't miss you.Can someone tell us where all of his friends were for this rally? Daphney Fain, Kathy Nealy, Se. Royce West, Pettis Norman, Willis Johnson,Craig Watkins are missing from the rally to support Price.Do they know something the rally attendees don't? When Price promised a car in every garage, he meant he was building more garages for his car collection. When Price yells racist, that means he's losing the debate and this is his way out.When Price whips out one of the many pair of glasses from his designer collection, he did not buy one and get one free nor did he shop at WalMart.Price has a large watch collection that was collected over the years from appreciative white jewelers who thought it was cheaper than the alternative. No where did that $100,000 in his safe come from? That would be more money that he would clear from his county check in a year. Kwanza Fest was Price's opportunity to fleece the flock that just donated to his defense fund for a crime he's not be accussed of ,yet. Those in attendance knew full well he will be arrested , tried and convicted.How many will be driving to Kentucky ( it won't be a local Federal prison) to see him?This will be Price's swan song.Perhaps one of your friends testifying against you will fill the leadership void for you and name a dog park for you. The service and the setting will be moving.There are only so many people you can make angry while you are stealing before someone turns you in. Say bye,,bye now.It wasn't nice knowing you. 

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

Okay, let me get this right. SOUTH Dallas has benefitted how exactly? I taught at Roosevelt High School. Over the river from MLK Blvd. It is a desert economically then and now. Drive down Buckner Blvd, south of Bruton. Find a major chain store there? Nope. Inland Port--never mind, FBI is handling that one. J W P HAS done a lot, I admit that, I agree to that. But since NONE of us have seen what they pulled for his house, how could any of us, black or white, ASSUME what they found--or did not find? How does anyone know it was a "fishing' expedition? I am disappointed that Fullenwider would jump the gun and compare this case to any others, since again, nobody knows what it is they are doing. But I guess Dyson is not as smart as he seems on TV, nor is NACP President, Juanita Wallace. To go after the FBI, the very agency that prosecuted hate crimes, went after the KKK and other hate groups, which investigated lynchings, murders and assassinations--wow. Yep, they had a file on MLK---and Hoover had a file on JFK. But I remember the FBI being one of the few places a black man could turn to for help against racists....

cp
cp

Doesn't the FBI have a file on anyone who has ever been arrested?

Diane Birdwell
Diane Birdwell

No, not necessarily, but they can access it. They have a file on many people who have NEVER been arrested, and I am one of them.... No biggie.

Joe L
Joe L

I really don't think he's 'a powerful black man' any more. Just another crooked politician who got caught.

Phelps
Phelps

So, now a church is the place to trumpet a single man's sexual exploits?

Catbird
Catbird

This "church" in particular is posessed of a strain of black liberation theology that is especially odious.

I remember when the Texas Legislature was set to vote on "hate crimes" legslation and the outcome looked bleak for the advocates...the morning of the vote, WFAA flashed the news across the state some Dallas racist had painted "N*****" in big black letters on the side of the St Luke Community United Methodist Church.

A "hate crime" for sure.

When this hit the news, we were shown that beacon of racial tolerance himself, Royce West, embrace a tearful, repentant and white, Florence Shapiro just before the Republican oposition to this silly and harmful law collapsed.

Like the criminal syndicate known as the "Black Panthers" in the 1960's, race/religion/politics is the covering hustle of this little group of African American criminals to terrorizes and impoverishes most of Dallas County.

Putting them in jail and allowing new leadership to arise is the only hope for their impoverished constituency.

Nathan Bedford
Nathan Bedford

Sweet Jesus but I am GITTIN the feelin for Big John....he am HURTIN for south Dallas folks and it just aint right what dey doin to him....he just wanna help everyone...long as they aint no crackers!!

Hallelujah...pass the hubcap one more time, I got some change left .l...

Cujo
Cujo

I suspect that the 10k collected from the PriceFest is an inaccurate figure. It's either wildly high or reported low. JWP needs some WAM and these idiots forked it over. That's just the start.

I guess last night was a bad time to remind the South Dallas poor that the Inland Port would have supplied jobs and that "alleged" "request" for 1.5M and 15% would have come out of their pockets eventually and in perpetuity. Had this request been on the "up and up", that "request" would have been for that money to be used for the communities, not JWP's cronies. To me, that's the gist of what this is about and nobody seems to see a thing about misplaced priorities or who JWP is fronting for. That's why I get a kick out of these kind of things. It seems he's respected for trying to brazen it out.

Phelps
Phelps

It's not about the money.  It's about the image of people handing over money.  If the envelopes had all been empty, they would serve JWP's purpose just as well.

Carolsts
Carolsts

John Wiley Price was the only person in Dallas (including my state representative) who helped me get medical attention for my son when he was in the Dallas County Jail some 7 or 8 years ago.  JWP replied to my email pleas and my son was taken to Parkland.  I will be eternally grateful to him for that and support him in his cause against our corrupt government.  This was a "fishing" expedition on the part of the FBI, surely generated by one or more of Mr. Price's enemies.   I add that I am white, 67 years old and live in the suburbs.  GO JOHN! 

Catbird
Catbird

That's part of the hustle...does doing right for your son allow him to conduct a criminal enterprise that corrupts the office he holds? Sorry but the answer is no.

unimpressed
unimpressed

still over at GreenOaks, or transfer to Terrell yet?

md
md

60,000 jobs.

Pecos_Drifter
Pecos_Drifter

Ha Ha, like I said at the start of this Dallas, you better hope you got something on him.....because if you don't "The Chickens Will Come Home To Roost"........love that Diane Ragsdale is back on the Radar, got my popcorn ready....Dallas.....your toast

cp
cp

She hasn't been off the radar, she's Carolyn Davis's brain....

LaceyB
LaceyB

I would also like one of these giant money-collecting, completely absolving, hallelujah-raising ceremonies in my honor based solely upon what I may or may not have done, depending on the proof someone may or may not have on me. Sounds like a mighty fine afternoon...for me. I'm taking donations of untraceable, laundered cash starting today.

LaceyB
LaceyB

Did anyone get the vibe that some of this money would be used for "Operation Kill Whitey". And by "whitey", I mean anyone who gets in JWP's way. 

ts
ts

Looks like it's about time God pushed that smite button.

Adlewis43
Adlewis43

These People are crazy. Wonder why South Dallas is the way it is.

Rooster
Rooster

While I understand why AA's are skeptical of the investigation - they have decades of injustices to draw experience from,  there's another part of me that thinks Dallas politicians - white and black alike - are some of the most corrupt on the planet.

md
md

I don't know about planet, but I will go with most corrupt in the state. Certainly among  Texas' big cities.

Watching
Watching

Thought Zan Holmes had migrated to California with his new wife?

Fullinwider is full of it.  He's part of the strata who think that Blacks can't be expected to prosper without cheating or bribe-taking or handouts.  

Most of the people listed make a living off of exploiting the less fortunate.  They don't believe that all people should have an equal opportunity to succeed.  

Carolyn Davis passing a basket for dollars is just perfect, but then they didn't dare let her speak out loud.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

..and thats the sad part of this...There's plenty of successful miniorites out there who pretty much figured out early on that "keeping it real in the hood" isnt a good way to be successful in life. They realized hard work and book smarts have put them in a higher strata than their compatriots who have become stuck in the multi-generational cycle of poverty and hopelesness. Instead of making excuses about race or creed, they took it upon themselves to change the perception. Instead of supporting the poverty pimps and hustlers in church suits, they found faith and belief in themselves.

To say it simply: When they left the hood, they left the hood behind and unshackled themselves from their "master". Until many of these brothers and sisters realize that their own "leaders" are holding them back, they'll stay in the shackles of multi-generational slavery..

MMMMMhhmmm
MMMMMhhmmm

I don't know what you white people are complaining about. This has GOT to be a racist inquiry into a successful black politician.  After all, take a look at the color of the skin of those in charge of the DOJ -- Eric Holder and Barack Obama.  Those are obviously racist white guys that John Wiley Price has always been rallying against! 

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Hey Robert, which was more entertaining mussles on Bastille Day or attending the JWP rally?

My guess it was a toss up, except I thing there was alcohol at the Bastille Day event.

Jcgreen59
Jcgreen59

As a long time Dallas resident I have taken notice of systemic biases in reporting on Black elected officials as opposed to whites. White elected candidates who are open to the media and allow for the media to dissect their internal operations tend to get favorable reports written in the Dallas Morning News. Black elected officials who are private and tend to be more guarded receives negative depictions of their administrative dealings printed in the Dallas Morning News. Nevertheless, the attacks of Black elected officials more often appear to be media propaganda. Point of reference: D.A. Watson has opted to remain private as to why the F.B.I was at his office. As the D.A. Mr. Watkins has this right to guarded privacy. Nonetheless, the Dallas Morning News immediately went on the attack, printing propaganda alluding to past issues that has no relevancy on his current administration. This writer believes the propaganda is an under the table sophisticated way of attacking a strong hold in Dallas County to appease white conservative Republicans. In addition, to force the hand of Mr. Watkins to open up to the Dallas Morning News and be placed in the public court of law. The Dallas Morning News has never attacked white elected leaders in this fashion. Point of fact: Joe Miller of Garland cheated and was caught, the Dallas Morning News sugar coated its coverage about his misdeeds. In addition they never forced him through the media to divulge any information. The Irving representative who took vehicles from Contractual Transportation Officials, her actions were not depicted in an attacking publication by the Dallas Morning News. As a matter of fact, the Dallas Morning News swept it under the rug without vicious attacks of propaganda. And the FBI never launched an investigation. Henry Wade and Bill Hill sent innocent men to prison for years, taking them from their communities, their families, and no media propaganda was ever depicted in the press of their wrong doing or integrity. This is the reference Blacks in this city allude when they speak racism, there is no other fascist outside the Dallas Morning News and the Dallas Blog creating such hypocrisy. Sadly, its this type of media scrutiny and propaganda that leads Black elected officials to be overly guarded. I'm just telling it like it is from the Southern side of Dallas.

Jay
Jay

That's a public office Mr. Watkins holds. Same for Mr. Price. If either wishes to remain private about their business lives, I suggest they pursue employment in the private sector.

When the FBI comes calling on the top law enforcement official in the county, people are going to be curious, and frankly, they are entitled to the fact.

Chris Danger
Chris Danger

JC, might want to get that tin-foil hate adjusted, as it sounds like you're just over the line of crazy.

I'll agree Dallas has had its fair share of issues, but most of the imagined situations concerning race in this town are due to crackpots who think "whitey" is out to get them. No offense, but that isnt necessarly the case...My advice: Quit "bating" by playing the card and come up with a clear argurment that doesnt use the terms "facists" "hypocracy" or "media propaganda", you'll sound more intelligent if you did and people would take you with more credence..

Montemalone
Montemalone

The guys in my office must think I'm nuts, cause I kept laughing out loud as I read this.

Welcome to 1970.

Grumpy Demo
Grumpy Demo

Let us not forget those who are not able to attend in person but in spirit:

-former Councilman, current felon, Don Hill-former Councilman, current felon Dan Fielding-former Councilman, felon, embezzler James Fantroy-fun couple and felons the Brian and Cheryl Potashnik-former contractor, current felon Kevin J. Dean-former lawyer, felon John J. Lewisand at least a dozen others:http://www.myharlingennews.com...

Was Royce West there with his heroes of "Equity"?

I must say that $50,000 number is obviously made up, but then again those aren't the brightest bulbs in the pews,

DixieBeer
DixieBeer

Among those others, convicted felon Tom Delay, sentenced to prison, but still at large because his case is "on appeal". 

Swbrooks
Swbrooks

I'm sure Royce West was busy prepping for trial, since he just signed on to defend the Episcopal School of Dallas in the lawsuit brought by the parents of Jane Doe II, who was kicked out of the school after a relationship with a teacher.  Not that he would use his influence to defend the ultimate white establishment . . . just sayin'

Watching
Watching

Good to see a Democrat not making excuses for this bunch of criminals.

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