My husband has worked at WLOS forever, and so I never miss a big story. He is proud to work on the evening news team, and he keeps me abreast of all of the stories he thinks might be of interest to me.
When the video of Johnnie Rush being victimized was leaked, I was livid. It was sickening to see him being harassed and beaten over a jaywalking violation. I published an op ed entitled “Stop The Racism and Start The Consequences” in The Asheville Citizen Times.
It wasn’t that I wanted to see anyone get fired, but I wanted to know that everyone involved would be reprimanded and trained to do, and be, better. Like any wife and mother, I wanted to feel like it was safe for my husband and son to walk the streets of Asheville.
There have literally been hundreds of articles written on and around Johnnie Rush’s story. Just the other day, APD implemented Ethical Policing Is Courageous, a training program that aims to teach officers how to stop their fellow officers from doing the wrong thing. Johnnie’s name was thrown in the title for good measure. It is disgusting.
The more I write and build my platform, the more I realize it is less about me and my personal stories and more about using my platform to help raise the voices of others.
Every news outlet reported on Johnnie’s settlement amount, but what they don’t explain is that Johnnie, aside from the initial lump sum handed to him with no financial literacy support, isn’t scheduled to receive any additional payments until 8/2021, and even then he will only receive $855.00 a month.
The way his annuity is set up, he won’t receive most of the money until his kids are 18. This means that this money won’t even help ensure that he can provide a better life for his kids. He can’t use this money to send them to private school, or to pay for their emergency medical expenses. He can’t use it to go back to school or to buy a house.
Reaching Out to Johnnie Rush
The first time I called Johnnie, he blew me off. He wasn’t interested in talking to me or my co hosts about what happened. When I showed up at his apartment he rolled his eyes at me for being persistent, but I told him that this wasn’t about me.
When I said it was about him and his side of the story, he started to listen. I went on to explain the value of his story to our community and why our youth needed to hear it, and he was all in.
Johnnie Rush Sharing His Story
Since Rafrica and I are now the sole owners and producers of The Asheville View, it felt right to stop our regularly scheduled program and hold 3 weeks of space for Johnnie Rush. After all, mainstream media has been publishing Johnnie’s story without his voice for 2 years and counting.
Johnnie said, after the interview, that it felt like a huge weight had been lifted off of him. Speaking his truth had made him start to feel better.
Also, Mayor Ester Manhiermer asked to be introduced to him, and privately and sincerely, for non political reasons, acknowledged his pain and apologized to him. Person to person, and mayor to citizen.
More importantly, Johnnie’s voice can be heard telling his story.
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