Controversy in Paris

By: Daniel T. Gotera Email
By: Daniel T. Gotera Email

It has been a week to remember for the people here in Paris. It started on Monday with protests from the New Black Panthers regarding the sentence 14 year old Shaquanda Cotton received when she pushed a teacher last year. Today, rumors about another protest stirred up the community even more.

Tensions running high in Paris...racial tensions over a 14 year old girl sentenced to an indeterminate amount of time at a Texas Youth Commission Facility.

"for her to get out and come back home to her mother. I want justice that's all, I want justice sir," said Dina Herd, a resident of Paris.

"The same thing I got in trouble for is the same thing I got in trouble for and I went to boot camp and served my time and everything she could do hers," said Leanne Byram, a resident of Paris.

Paris residents, both black and white including a large group of DPS troopers, gathered across the street from Paris High School this afternoon in anticipation of another New Black Panther protest. And a threat of a walk out by students.

"They had a rally at the park after wards and they called our students made the request for them to skip school on Friday," said Paul Trull, Superintendent of Paris schools.

Only a handful of students left school...

And no protests were staged like the ones on Monday in front of the courthouse. A sign that county leaders hope means activists are starting to pay attention to the facts.

"When people actually take the time to listen to all the facts in the case as best can be presented from an objective angle its almost like a light bulb goes on in their mind," said Hubbard.

Lamar County District Attorney Spokesman Allan Hubbard says incarceration at the TYC facility was the only option.

"This juveniles mother testified to the judge that they continue would not cooperate with probation or with any conditions," said Hubbard.

Shaquanda's mother Creola Cotton was unavailable for comment for this story, but Hubbard says Lamar County Judge Chuck Superville felt that in order for the juvenile in this case to improve her actions, Shaquanda had to become a ward of the state and handed over to the Texas Youth Commission.

"Is the likelihood if she goes back to her mother was that yes it would because her mother was incendiary and inciting anti authority in her daughter," said Hubbard.

Shaquanda Cotton has been at the TYC facility for 11 months and county officials say will only be able to leave if she shows improvement. Hubbard says she is not serving a 7 year sentence, but he adds Cotton is not improving at the facility.

"She should be out but she shouldn't still be there but she has not cooperated in the fall there was a hearing with TYC officials and they haven't even gotten to step one with this juvenile, because she won't admit she committed a crime," said Hubbard.

Again, we attempted to contact Shaquanda's mother, Creola, but she was unavailable for comment. There is no word yet at this time if the New Black Panthers or the KKK will show up next week for another protest.


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