Small white cards drifted around the Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church on February 8, where the NAACP town hall meeting was being held to address Chad Holley's police beating.
"Know Your Rights With The Police," the cards declared. "NEVER speak with the police. You have a 5th amendment right to remain silent. Use it! Ask for & contact your lawyer," read one point. "If the police are speaking with you then they think you are involved with something illegal. NEVER speak with them without your lawyer. What you say WILL be used against you and it will kill you at trial!" read another. The cards were copyrighted to lawyer Jolanda Jones.
Below the tips, two phone numbers were printed: "To hire me as a lawyer" prefaced her law office number. "To report misconduct" gave her city council number. On the reverse side: "If you want a fighter then you want me!!!!!"
As Jones sat at the front of the room next to three other members of city council, it may have been difficult to determine which number she was representing that night.
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"I was invited to speak as a panelist/lawyer for the express purpose of giving people their legal rights," Jones told Hair Balls this afternoon. She said she wasn't there as a member of city council. "The problem came when other council members ended up coming. Generally speaking, if one elected official gets to speak, then they all get to speak," she said.
So Jones decided she wouldn't speak at all. The three other city council members -- who were not invited to speak as panelists -- were given seats at the front of the room as a sign of respect. They happened to be placed right next to Jones. To an observer, therefore, the row of four chairs facing the audience appeared to be occupied by four city council members. And one of them appeared to be handing out seemingly anti-police literature.
Jones said she wasn't spreading an anti-police message, but was merely acting in her capacity as a lawyer. "I don't lose my law license when I get elected to city council," she said.
Allegations of an ethical conflict between the contents of the card and her position on city council were unfounded, she added. "HPOU [the Houston Police Officers Union] wants to distract from the Holley video, from the shooting this weekend, from every other shooting," she said. "They want to blame the mistrust of them on little old me. If that's what they want to focus on, then I respectfully submit to you that they'll never fix their problem," she said.