110 W. New York Ave.
DeLand, FL 32720
By Pat Andrews
posted May 7, 2014 - 10:20:13am
A community walk set for 10 a.m. Saturday, May 10, will commemorate the life and death of Marlon Brown.
At the end of the march will be free food, entertainment and speakers.
“It will be an all-day event,” organizer Krystal Brown said.
The march will go from Chisholm Community Center at 520 S. Clara Ave. to Spring Hill Park, 492 Mathis Ave. in DeLand.
After activities at Spring Hill Park, attendees will reconvene at Chisholm Center for the screening of the movie Fruitvale Station, based on events leading to the death of young Oscar Grant, who was killed in 2009 by a police officer at the Fruitvale Bay Area Rapid Transit Station in Oakland, Calif.
Grant’s parents will attend the DeLand march, as will the parents of Kendrick Johnson, whose bullet-riddled body was found in a rolled-up mat in his high-school gym in Lowndes County, Ga., in 2013.
Members of other families from around the country who have suffered injustice will attend the march, was well, Krystal Brown said.
She said the purpose of the event is to bring the community together.
“This is about justice, equality … It’s not just a black thing, but for any kind of injustice suffered by anyone,” Krystal Brown said.
“It’s going to be very emotional,” she said, adding that sometimes emotion is necessary to mobilize people to fight for what is right.
Marlon Brown died under the wheels of a DeLand police cruiser May 8, 2013, after an attempted traffic stop in Spring Hill around 12:30 a.m.
After a brief pursuit by two DeLand officers, Brown had jumped from his car and was crossing a vacant lot on foot when a cruiser driven by Officer James Harris ran over him. DeLand Police Chief Bill Ridgway fired the rookie officer.
Brown's death caused a furor in the largely African-American Spring Hill community. Residents said police were too rough with residents, and they wanted deaths like Brown's to stop.
The furor led to a series of meetings between DeLand leaders and community members.
DeLand leaders went door to door in Spring Hill, talking to community members and hearing their concerns, and relationships have improved, both sides have said.
As a result of the efforts, DeLand City Manager Michael Pleus was presented with the West Volusia Branch of the NAACP’s Difference Maker of the Year award at the organization’s annual banquet May 2. DeLand Police Chief Ridgway was a close second for the honor, NAACP President Mike Williams said.
Although things have improved, Krystal Brown is still concerned about the circumstances surrounding her former husband’s death. She said Harris should have been charged, and she contested the Medical Examiner's report that found “no evidence he was struck by the [officer’s] vehicle," but, instead, suffocated from the weight of the cruiser on top of him.
Krystal Brown said the Medical Examiner appeared to be trying to protect the police officer and the police department.
Krystal Brown organized the May 10 walk through her group called "United 4 Justice."
Krystal Brown is also running for the DeLand City Commission seat currently held by Vonzelle Johnson, whose term ends at the end of the year.
Her platform? Equality, community and economic development and youth programs, according to her campaign literature.
So far, two women have announced their intention to run for Johnson’s Seat 3: Brown, and Jessica Davis, another DeLand resident who works with youth at Chisholm Center. See the accompanying story about Davis’ event planned in Downtown DeLand May 8.
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