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Calyen / Justice System in Conroe

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Interviewer: In terms of, I guess, resources, have you seen that politicians in Conroe are listening to the community and are aware of community needs and acting on those community needs or is there a disconnect between? Calyen: There’s a disconnect because most of the politicians—I mean, everybody’s busy but most of them you don’t see them until election time. I guess you would say they do what they do until election time and at election time they come out and they’ll come around and they’ll declare we’re going to cover some roads, we’re going to pave some roads, we’re going to build some new schools. We’re going to do the things that get you elected. Interviewer: What change do you see in Conroe that needs to still happen? What things that you think needs to change. Calyen: Changes? First of all, I think one of the first things that they would need to change is the school system. You’ve got a school that’s in your neighborhood that a kid could go to and you’re bussing them to ten miles away. He could walk to school or take a bike to school. Changes in the justice system. Changes in the political system. Interviewer: You mention the justice system and school system, Conroe has gotten national attention for two kinds of issues or cases, one of which was the rape case where the defendant was unjustly convicted of a crime and later released. I want to say you were in New York at the time? Calyen: Yeah. Interviewer: Also, Conroe got national (inaudible) when black football players were protesting the lack of black cheerleaders in Conroe. Can you tell us anything about those particular? Calyen: Both of those cases, I wasn’t in the city, but I heard about them. It was quite a bit of injustice to see Clarence Brandley treated the way that he was. Almost got the death sentence if it hadn’t have been for people that came from other places and people that protest and people that march and people that put money out of their pockets to keeping him alive. For something he didn’t do. You got people wanted to see their kids’ cheerleaders. Some type of program—it’s a true story. This woman wanted her daughter to be a cheerleader and she had another girl killed because she wanted to be a cheerleader. That’s a true story and it happened in Texas. Football and cheerleading is a big thing in Texas. If you’re a cheerleader—I’m trying to get my little granddaughter not to be a cheerleader. You get people that have—they’re high strung. Interviewer: Do you think (inaudible) it’s a status symbol? Calyen: Yeah. Status symbol. Interviewer: In terms of the criminal justice system, was what happened to Mr. Bradley anomaly or is it more commonplace? Calyen: It’s systemwide because if you have money and you’re a prominent person in this county, you can get some justice, but if you’re broke, Marvin Zindler used to say, “It’s hell to be poor.” If you’re poor, you’re just going to get the worst of everything. You’re going to get a court-appointed lawyer that’s not interested in your case. You’re going to get some judges that are interested in putting you away and putting you away for a long time. For some of those cases that people have been prosecuted for one little rock of crack cocaine. You know, it’s wrong to have it, but to give a person twenty-five and thirty years. Come on now. That’s not right.

Interview Interview with Henry Calyen
Subjects Housing › Neighborhoods
Community Organizations
Court Cases
Electoral Politics
Electoral Politics › Election Campaigns
Direct Action › Marches
Direct Action › Protests
Tags Brandley, Clarence Lee
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Interview date 2016-07-06
Interview source CRBB Summer 2016
Interviewees Calyen, Henry
Duration 00:05:03
Citation "Justice System in Conroe," from Henry Calyen oral history interview with ,  July 06, 2016, Conroe, TX, Civil Rights in Black and Brown Interview Database,, accessed December 01, 2023