Monday, October 26, 2009

National Protest Planned in Support of Black Student Facing 15 Years for Cutting Line at Walmart: Dr Boyce Watkins speaks w Al Sharpton

For immediate Release

Please call S. Prewitt at (888) 315- 1591 for interviews or email

Dr. Boyce Watkins to Rally for College Student Facing 15 Years in Prison for Cutting Line at Walmart

(Syracuse, NY) – Prominent Syracuse University Professor Dr. Boyce Watkins has called for a national response to the case of Heather Ellis, a college student facing 15-years in prison for allegedly cutting line at a Walmart store in Kennett, MO.  Dr. Watkins will be holding a rally in Kennett, along with a march to start at the Walmart where the incident took place.  The rally and march are going to take place on November 16, 2009 at 11 am.  Dr. Watkins is encouraging those who cannot make the trip to write letters to Walmart and US Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as consider holding rallies at their own local Walmart stores.

The Heather Ellis case has gained national attention due to the fact that Ellis has no criminal record and her family has received threats from the Ku Klux Klan.  Ellis’ family felt that it would be difficult for Heather to get adequate legal representation, since many of the town’s law professionals work together.  That is when Dr. Watkins offered his support, along with local chapters of the ACLU, NAACP, National Action Network, The Sean Bell Coalition and the SCLC.

“Heather’s case is both shocking and compelling, because she could be the daughter of anyone in America,” says Watkins, who is the Resident Scholar for AOL Black Voices. “One can’t imagine that in 2009, a young lady with no criminal past can have her entire future taken away over one incident at Walmart.”

Watkins is advising those attending the rally to be careful, since the town may not be a safe place for African Americans to visit.  Walter Currie Jr., a 15-year old in nearby Poplar Bluff, MO, was doused with gasoline and set on fire by a classmate just a few months ago.

“I am actually a little concerned about the safety of those who attend the rally,” says Watkins, who is a weekly contributor to the Al Sharpton Radio Show.  “We can’t assume that because we are protesting, we are somehow safe from the Draconian justice system this town imposes on the Black community.  The truth is that we are all in jeopardy.”

Dr. Boyce Watkins is a Professor at Syracuse University, and founder of The Your Black World Coalition.  To find out more about the Heather Ellis Case, please visit or  For interviews, please reach out to S. Prewitt at (888) 315-1591 or email ###

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