By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
Update: Sept. 15, 2018 – The official after party will be held at Avenue 101, 5929 N May Ave, in Oklahoma City.
OKLAHOMA CITY, OK – A John Marshall High School Alumni fundraising event honoring Julius Darius Jones will take place on Saturday, September 15 in Oklahoma City. Organized by Jimmy Lawson, the event will be held a 1 p.m. at the Cole Community Center / First Church of the Nazarene, 4400 NW Expressway, as part of the #FreeJuliusJones movement.
Basketball, volleyball, a kid’s 3 point contest, and other activities are planned. To sign up, text or call 405-473-9709 or 405-885-6866.
The event will feature DJ TA and DJ Quest on the airwaves. Vendor tables will be available for a small fee for businesses or organizations who want to display their information.
“If you want to play in the volleyball or basketball games, please text the numbers on the flyer to sign up,” said Lawson. “This event is open to the public.”
Entry to the event with school supplies is $5. Entry without school supplies costs $10.
“The proceeds will be used for Julius’s fund – to pay for phone calls, food, etc.,” Lawson said. “All of the school supplies are being donated to John Marshall High School in honor of Julius.”
Julius graduated with a 3.8 grade-point-average from John Marshall in 1998, along with his best friend, Lawson, who started the #FreeJuliusJones movement.
Jones, now 38, has been on death row in Oklahoma since 2001 for a murder Lawson and many others believe he did not commit.
In 1999, Julius, an African American resident of Oklahoma City, was arrested days after a Caucasian businessman was shot to death in Edmond, OK. At that time, Julius was a successful 19-year-old athlete on scholarship at the University of Oklahoma. Jones has maintained his innocence since his arrest.
Jones’ current lawyers contend there was “pervasive and highly racialized pre-trial media coverage” of Julius’s case, as well as “racialized remarks made by prosecutors and at least one juror” during Julius’s capital murder trial.
Recently, the ABC documentary, “The Last Defense,” executive produced by Academy Award winning actress Viola Davis, gave the Jones’ case national attention by spotlighting serious flaws in the American justice system – in particular the high rate of exonerated death row inmates. The docu-series is available for viewing online.
The documentary momentum led to a recent #FreeJuliusJones rally at the Oklahoma state Capitol attended by some 300 Julius supporters demanding a new trial and ultimately his exoneration. The rally was live streamed across the nation by local television stations.
Lawson added, “There were some comments on the live stream of the rally video that mentioned…’watching and supporting all the way in Australia.’”
Julius supporter Steven Wayne Davis said, “Don’t go back to sleep because it’s not in front of you right now, like it was a few weeks ago with The Last Defense. Energize, Mobilize, Organize is my community engagement philosophy.
“The Last Defense and Julius Jones energized us,” Davis continued. “Now it’s time to Mobilize and Organize. In the meantime, write Julius and hashtag at least once a day #JusticeforJuliusJones.”
To write, email and/or call state officials in support of Julius, visit the Oklahoma Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty website and click on the ‘Action Alert.’ There, you will find contact information, a sample letter, and also Julius’ address to send him a note of encouragement.
“We not going to stop till justice is served. Free J.J,” Michael Byrd, another John Marshall alumni posted on Facebook. “Come out September 15th and support the cause and don’t let our voice die. Show our generations of love, family and justice.
“Admission is only $5 with school supplies for John Marshall students,” Byrd said “Come out September 15th and make our voices heard.”
On July 25, The City Sentinel broke the news that the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals (OCCA) (Case #PCD-2017-1313) had withdrawn a June order denying requests to look at evidence of racial bias on the Oklahoma County jury that convicted Jones of murder in 1999.
The court has now decided to take a fresh look at some questions raised by Jones’ attorneys earlier this year.
In addition, the U.S. Supreme Court continues to review recent filings in the Jones case, with a fourteenth consideration of the matter pending at the High Court when justices return in September to prepare for the October 2018 term.
Lawson will be on a discussion panel following a featured screening of The Last Defense during the Capitol City Black Film Festival in Austin, TX on Friday, August 31. Panelists will include co-creators and executive producers Vanessa Potkin and Aida Leisenring, director Amani Martin, and federal public defender Amanda Bass.
Lawson added, “Everybody come on out and have some fun and continue the #FreeJuliusJones movement.”
To sign up for the Julius Jones’ Alumni event, text or call 405-473-9709 or 405-885-6866.