Marshall, Texas – A father and journalist is urging the Harrison county sheriff’s office to act.
He says while driving through Elysian Fields, Texas, the neighborhood where he grew up, a man on a horse intentionally blocked the road, making it clear to him he says that he didn’t belong.
James Ragland is no stranger here. He grew up here and graduated Elysian Fields high school.
He’s a fellow journalist – writing for the Dallas Morning News and the Washington Post.
Sunday, he called on the sheriff’s office here in Marshall not as a journalist but, as a citizen.
He wanted to make law enforcement aware of what happened to him as he drove down Fort Evans Road.
Ragland says he was with his 10 year old son and 12 year old great nephew as he drove slowly telling stories of his childhood.
He says he noticed three people on horseback. Two of them moved to the side of the road.
But, one stopped right in front of his vehicle.
He later found out the person on the horse was Grant Williams who lives on this road.
Ragland says Williams made a comment about the rental car license plate being from California.
And then said, “These are Texas roads”.
Ragland says the kids were visibly shaken up and he drove off.
“My son and I just had a terrifying experience — a terroristic threat from a white man with a rope. That this could happen in 2019 is no longer shocking. That it happened in the rural area where I grew up, on a road where generations of my late maternal grandparents’ family and friends have lived for decades, only added insult to the injury. Around 5:30 pm or so, Judah and I were dropping off his cousin at a relative’s place on Floyd Evans Road in Elysian Fields, just south of Marshall, TX. “
“As we drove east on the road, we encountered two adults and a kid on horseback. Initially they were on the north side of the road. But as our car got closer, one of them – a man with reddish or blonde hair – steered his horse in the middle of the road and trotted toward our car. Judah got a bit nervous and asked what he was doing. Mistakenly, I told him the guy probably was trying to keep the kid’s horse from being startled and so he was making sure we didn’t go fast or rev our engine. But when the kid and other person on horseback went past our car, the guy just stopped in front of our car and glared at us. Then, he turned the horse sideways to more completely block the road, and he turned to face us down – I kid you not – like a gunman in the Wild West. Judah and his cousin grew more nervous, unsure what was happening. I’m perplexed, but not yet alarmed. But then the guy guides his horse to the driver’s side and stops. I glance over and he’s just staring me down. I roll the window down, thinking he had something to say, but he just sizes us up. I finally say, “Nice horse.” He’s says, “What?”
“Nice horse,” I say again.
“Thank ya,” he mumbles. Then he blurts out: “These are Texas roads.”
“I’m sorry,” I said — as in, what did you say?
“These are TEXAS roads,” he said louder.
I know, I said, I’m from Texas.
“But your car’s got California license plates,” he said.
“It’s a rental,” I shot back.
And without missing a beat, the guy declared loudly again, “BUT THESE ARE TEXAS ROADS!”
What the efff does that mean? I ask.
“And the troll reached back like he was reaching for a gun. I honestly wanted to get out of the car and pull him down off his high horse, but my kid and nephew were pleading for me to speed away. They were scared to death. And I can’t blame them. So I eased forward with the fruitcake still yelling and making threatening gestures.
“I dropped my nephew off and talked to a few folks about what had happened back down the road, and I was told the guy – and/or his family — had moved there a few years ago. He apparently had acted before like he ruled the road, but not like this. I debated whether to call the constable or Harrison County Sheriff’s Office, but decided to dismiss it as just one of those things.”
But, that wasn’t the end of it.
Williams came after him again as he was leaving the area on the same road.
Ragland says, “When we left about 6pm from the place where I was on Floyd Evans Road and headed back west. The gentleman was on the side of the road of his property, facing his property. He whipped his horse around and charged at my vehicle by horseback and tried to get in front of it. My son was in the passenger seat, and he was screaming.”
“As my son and I headed back west on Floyd Evans Road, I see the THIS IS MY TEXAS ROAD guy parked on his horse waiting for us to come back through. He charges from his property on the north side and runs right out to our car, and for one frightening moment I thought he was going to dart in front of us. But as I sped up to avoid him, he pulled alongside our car and chased us for a mile while yelling and throwing the f… you sign initially before reaching for something on his right side. I thought it was a gun but couldn’t see clearly because my son was hysterically begging me to drive faster along the choppy, black-top road with this Angry White Dude on Horseback in full pursuit.”
“When I got several hundred yards in front, I stopped the car – with Judah going berserk because he thought the guy was going to shoot at us – and I snapped a few pictures on my iPhone.”
I calmed Judah down and told him I had to do that because we needed to report this incident to make sure this man never did this to anyone else.
That’s I what I did. I made a few calls, figured out who this guy was and called the sheriff’s office after I couldn’t reach the Constable. A deputy called back and assured me he was going to go pay the guy a visit. That was around 8:30pm.
Ragland says he’s made several calls to the sheriff’s office and felt they were dismissive of his complaint.
I talked to Captain Duncan who doesn’t want to make an official comment but, says Ragland has to come in person to make an official police report.
Gerry, I asked if there’s a law prohibiting a person blocking the road.
He said it is unlawful to block the road – but, a deputy would have had to witness the road being blocked.
The Facebook post has received more than a-thousand views and comments.
Ragland says he just wants to be assured by the sheriff that this matter has been addressed so that others don’t experience what he and his son and nephew experienced.
Ragland has not yet filed an official police report but has called the sheriff’s office several times asking for them to investigate his concerns.
He lives 2 hours away and the sheriff’s office tells us he would have to file a report in person.
The sheriff’s office says they won’t do anything until Ragland comes in to make a report.
Although they have talked to Williams who denies anything happened. KTBS3’s Brenda Teele called his wife who refused to give any comment on behalf of her family before hanging up the phone warning not to call back again.
“I’m James R’s pastor. I’m a white conservative pastor. I know his son personally. So it’s real and it did freak them out. Just to give you an honest heads up” . – Mike Connaway
Oh but that is not all…
Kenisha Boyd, a former parole officer with the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, who sued the agency over alleged discrimination after she complained about a coworker’s noose.
Boyd began working for the department in 2005 in Houston, according to the lawsuit she filed over 10 years later in U.S. District Court in Marshall, in the Eastern District of Texas.
After moving back to Houston and then to Dallas, she returned in September 2012 to Marshall, where she regularly noticed a noose in the office of a coworker. Marshall is located in Harrison County Texas.
Boyd, who is African American, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, stating that she felt uneasiness and discomfort at seeing a noose every day at work.
Shortly after she filed the complaint about the noose, Taylor removed it from plain view. But he and another coworker, Ruby Marks, began monitoring Boyd and treating her differently from the way they treated white employees, the plaintiff’s complaint states.
“Plaintiff was reprimanded daily for field visits conducted according to policy,” the complaint states. Boyd was also regularly accused of submitting blank or false travel statements, which were actually correct, the complaint states.
“Plaintiff was reprimanded and ‘written up’ almost daily by Ms. Ruby Marks on baseless accusations,” according to court documents.
No white officer was subjected to the same scrutiny, the complaint states.
In addition, she was denied overtime, although the office was understaffed, and was criticized for incomplete work, which she could not have reasonably completed without approved overtime, the suit states.
Soon after Boyd was suspended without pay and was fired. Jim Crow is rumored to have put the noose back.