For Release: May 9, 2008
Contact: David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11
or [email protected]
Black Churches to Participate in Day of Prayer for Jailed Border Patrol Agents
Washington, D.C. - Project 21, the black leadership network, has recruited the support of black churches across the United States to participate in a special day of prayer declared by a member of Congress to call attention to the plight of incarcerated U.S. Customs and Border Patrol agents Ignacio Ramos and Jose Alonso Compean.
"To many Americans, the radical beliefs and comments of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright have come to falsely personify the Christian church - and particularly those with black congregations. We hope this show of support for the law and good government will help undo the damage he has wrought," said Project 21 Chairman Mychal Massie. "This is a call upon our God to do what only He can in the absence of any action by President Bush. Christians have long bridged the divide between God and the absence of responsible leadership, and it is only fitting that once again the Church is undertaking to do that which officials will not."
U.S. Representative Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA) called for a "National Day of Prayer for Jailed Border Agents and All Law Enforcement" on Sunday, May 11. The day also begins National Police Week. Representative Rohrabacher told The Politico: "In my 20 years in Congress, this is the first time I've ever called for a public prayer effort for any cause. At this rate, since the President won't listen to Congress or the American people, maybe he'll listen to God."
Project 21’s Mychal Massie has repeatedly asked President George W. Bush to issue a pardon to or commute the prison sentences of Ramos and Compean.
Ramos and Compean were prosecuted for an incident in February 2005 on the U.S.-Mexico border near El Paso in which they chased Osvaldo Aldrete-Davila on foot after he abandoned a van containing 743 pounds of marijuana worth an estimated $1 million. During the chase, Ramos shot at Aldrete-Davila, believing he saw Aldrete-Davila draw a gun. Aldrete-Davila escaped across the U.S.-Mexico border. Ramos assumed Aldrete-Davila was unhurt. In fact, Aldrete-Davila had been shot in the buttock. U.S. Attorney Johnny Sutton later charged Ramos and Compean for pursuing Aldrete-Davila without supervisor approval, moving spent shell casings and improperly reporting the fired shots.
Aldrete-Davila was granted immunity to testify against Ramos and Compean, who were convicted and are now serving jail sentences of 11 and 12 years, respectively. Most of their time thus far has been served in solitary confinement. Aldrete-Davila recently pleaded guilty to charges that he conspired to smuggle marijuana into the United States twice after he was granted immunity. He faces a jail term of between five and 40 years and $2 million in fines (although The Washington Times has cited a source estimating Aldrete-Davila will only serve six to 10 years in exchange for his plea).
An appeal of Ramos and Compean’s case was heard by the federal 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on December 3, 2007.
Project 21 Chairman Massie has enlisted the following black churches to participate in the National Day of Prayer for Ramos and Compean:
Majestic Mountain Fellowship - Mill Hall, Pennsylvania (Reverend Charles A. Johnson)
Bible Church - Ypslianti, Michigan (Reverend Levon Yuille)
Westside First Wesleyan Church - Colorado Springs, Colorado (Reverend Blaine Derck)
Jones Memorial Community Church of God in Christ - Philadelphia, Pennsylvania (Reverend Reuben T. Jones, Jr.)
Reverend Anthony L. Winfield, who leads a pastoral practice as the Protestant chaplain of Elmhurst Hospital in Queens, New York has also agreed to participate (the hospital itself does not endorse the event). Reverend Winfield said: "I am honored to help promote prayers of support this Sunday for Border Patrol agents Ramos and Compean. Their cause is an egregious example of 'politically-correct' scapegoating that demands our attention, our outrage and our prayers."
"It is a travesty to forgive the sins of someone who sought to poison our citizens with illicit drugs while jailing those who sought to bring him to justice," said Reverend Jones. "Our prayers for their safety and release are the least we can offer these brave men, their families and our nation."
Project 21's Massie wrote about the Ramos and Compean case in a commentary published in The Washington Times on December 28, 2007. This commentary is available via http://tiny.cc/MassieRamosCompean.
Project 21, a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization sponsored by the National Center for Public Policy Research, has been a leading voice of the African-American community since 1992. For more information, contact David Almasi at (202) 543-4110 x11 or [email protected], or visit Project 21's website at www.project21.org/P21Index.html.