Supporters hold vigil for Jarvis Johnson

July 6, 2010 9:07:59 PM PDT
On Tuesday night at the Fifth Ward location where Houston City Council Member Jarvis Johnson was arrested, supporters of the embattled city councilman prayed for their community leader. "Some people hold prayer vigils just for the cameras," Johnson supporter Derrick Muhammad said."Some people hold vigils for political purposes. We want to hold a prayer vigil today because this community needs prayer like no other time."

Johnson didn't attend the vigil, but hours earlier Tuesday, he stood before a judge to face a felony evading arrest charge.

Johnson is accused of refusing to pull over right away after an HPD officer caught him speeding. He didn't have a lot to say in court, but he apparently had plenty to say to police when he didn't pull over for an officer last week.

Johnson, who is married and a father of two, was with his secretary.

"The law is when you have an officer behind you with their lights and sirens on, you are to pull over," said Assistant District Attorney Eileen Bogar.

Prosecutors say Johnson told police he did not pull over because what he was doing took priority over the officer wanting to stop him, though we're not sure what he meant by that. It's not in the record.

"What could possibly be more important than pulling over for police? You can't answer that one question? What could be more important than stopping for a police officer?" we asked Johnson.

"We've had a press conference. You shoud have been there. I said that already," Johnson answered. "I've already talked to the media. I don't want you guys to try and sensationalize the story because there's no sensationalism. What we are gonna do is allow the process to work. The process will take place. I will not talk about the details of the case."

Johnson's attorney denied that his client made that statement. Police claim Johnson was driving 62 miles per hour in a 40 mile per hour zone. Johnson says he wasn't speeding and believes he was targeted after complaining about speed traps in the area.

His supporters also believe his arrest was unjust. And the Facebook page for the prayer vigil, which was hosted by some area ministers, created a stir online, as those who met defended their right to gather.

"Prayer is always an honor, for everyone, OK" said Jo August, a Johnson supporter. "I pray every morning. I pray for my friends; I call Jarvis' name every morning, so prayer's alway an honor."

Johnson attended Tuesday afternoon's city council meeting and said the charges won't distract him from his work as a council member.

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