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Houston businessman defends Black Lives Matter billboard despite death threats, other public pressure

HOUSTON — A Houston businessman is defending his decision to purchase a local Black Lives Matters billboard despite public pressure to have the message changed or the ad completely removed.

Le Hoang Nguyen, the owner of a local insurance and real-estate agency, put up the billboard last month near Bellaire Boulevard and Boone Road in southwest Houston.

Nguyen said he bought the billboard to show solidarity with Black community, to inspire the future generation of leaders and to start the hard conversation of racism and injustice in the United States.

“It is not a political message. It does not support any particular organization. It supports the simple idea of the Black Lives Matter movement to stop racism and injustice for all,” Nguyen said in an official statement.

The billboard has been met with polarized response within days of going up, Nguyen said.

He said there has been death threats against him, calls to boycott his business within the Vietnamese community if he doesn’t take it down and pressure to change the message to “All Lives Matter,” a term often used to dismiss claims of systemic prejudice against the African-American community.

“When your entire life, 50 years that you’ve worked so hard to build, to share gets unfairly, unjustly judged, convicted and executed– lynching – in the court of public opinion, it hurts. It hurts,” Nguyen said in a video.

He has also gotten praise for personally funding the billboard.

Nguyen said his solidarity with the Black community stems from more than a commitment to fighting social injustice but also his firsthand experience with prejudice as a Vietnamese-American. He mentioned being called names and being barred from job opportunities as examples.

Nguyen was a child when his father was jailed after the fall of Sai Gon and his family was forced to leave Viet Nam in 1978, according to a Facebook video. Nguyen said while at a Kota Bahru refugee camp a group of Black leaders offered him and others encouragement and support.

“They spoke up on our behalf when we had no voice,” Nguyen said in another video. “Their compassion taught me how to be empathetic towards our fellow human begins.”

The article brought awareness to the refugees who faced social-ostracism, poverty and possibly death if deported back to their homelands.

Nguyen said he has accomplished his goal to build awareness and spark conversation and the billboard will be changed to a message supporting first responders will be installed soon.


Harris County is Expanding COVID-19 Testing Inside Jails

Everyone is doing the best they can to slow the spread of COVID-19 by following the CDC’s safety guidelines. Self-quarantining at home, avoiding large gatherings, improved sanitation and using protective gear like masks and gloves are all important, but inmates in jails can’t do any of these things, which has caused the virus to spread faster in jails than it does among the general population. Despite this, many counties have declined to take the necessary steps in keeping inmates safe, putting hundreds, or even thousands, of inmates at high risk. If you find yourself in trouble with the law, don’t take the risk of staying in jail. Contact A Mobile Bail Bonds right away so our experienced bail bondsmen can get you out of jail and back to your life.

Inmate Populations Rise

Even though the CDC advises against more than 10 people being in the same room at once, jails continue to be overpopulated. Inmates are still being kept in close quarters without enough room to socially distance themselves, and there hasn’t been much effort to reduce jail populations by releasing non-violent offenders. In fact, Governor Greg Abbott recently passed an executive order making it impossible for violent offenders to get out on bail unless they can pay the entire bail at once.

COVID-19’s Impact on Jails

Overpopulation isn’t the only problem exacerbating the spread of COVID-19 in jails. Poor sanitation, lack of access to hygiene products like hand sanitizer, and a lack of access to proper healthcare have all contributed to the rapid spread of the virus in jails. This issue doesn’t just impact inmates. Guards, jail staff, and police officers are also at higher risk every time they walk into a jail or interact with inmates.

Expanded Internal Testing Reveals Extent of COVID-19 Spread

COVID-19 testing has finally expanded in Harris County jails, and it’s revealed how much the virus has spread. Right now, jails with any positive COVID-19 tests are being put on lockdown for 14 days, and this period is extended if any new cases pop up. As of right now, 20 jail staff members have tested positive, as well as 3 inmates. 52 inmates are awaiting results in quarantine, and over 1,000 are suspected to have come into contact with the virus. Until more tests are done, we won’t know how wide the virus has spread among jails. If jails continue to ignore the CDC’s guidelines, these numbers will rise and the virus will have severe impacts on inmates and staff.

Keep Yourself Safe: Get Out of Jail Fast with A Mobile Bail Bonds

At A Mobile Bail Bonds, we know everyone makes mistakes, but you shouldn’t have to pay for it before your trial. A Mobile Bail Bonds is committed to getting inmates out of jail fast, and our services are still available to anyone who needs them. Jails are one of the worst places to be during this pandemic, so keep yourself and your family safe when you hire A Mobile Bail Bonds. If you can’t pay your bail, let us know immediately at 713-463-7774 so we can work on a payment plan. Get back to your home and your life: speak with one of our experienced bail bondsmen to see how we can help you.

We’re standing by 24/7 to help you on the web or by phone!


Texas Organizing Project activists say they will bail people out of jail to protect from coronavirus

Local community activists said Tuesday they would begin bailing defendants out of some of Texas’ largest county jails to protect them from dangerous conditions inside caused by the spread of the new coronavirus.

In a news release, the Texas Organizing Project announced it would focus on bailing out people with low bonds in Harris County, Dallas County, Bexar County, and Fort Bend County. Harris County’s jail, with some 7,400 inmates, is the second largest county jail in the United States.

“People should be home with their families,” said Michael Roberts, a TOP leader from Bexar County. “None of these people we’re bailing out are eligible for the death penalty, and they shouldn’t get a defacto death sentence just because they don’t have the money to bail out. Everyone has a right to life, dignity and justice.”

A Mobile Bail Bonds doesn’t judge our clients and stands with the community on the safety of our inmates.

Court blocks Gov. Abbott’s order limiting jail release during pandemic after judges challenged its constitutionality

The governor’s order prohibited judges from releasing some inmates without paying bail. The lawsuit filed Wednesday argued it violated the constitutional separation of powers and discriminated against poor defendants.

A state district judge in Travis County has temporarily blocked enforcement of Gov. Greg Abbott‘s order to limit jail releases during the new coronavirus pandemic. She cited unconstitutional provisions and overreach of executive power in the gubernatorial order.

State District Judge Lora Livingston issued her ruling Friday night after a lawsuit this week challenged the governor’s order that prohibited judges from releasing some inmates without paying bail. Abbott’s order was prompted by some local officials moving to reduce the number of people locked up in disease-prone county jails. He said “releasing dangerous criminals in the streets is not the solution.”

Abbott’s order banned the release of jail inmates accused or previously convicted of a violent crime on no-cost, personal bonds which can include conditions like regular check-ins. Under Abbott’s order, those accused of the same crimes with the same criminal history could still be released from jail if they have access to cash. A no-cost release can still be considered for health or safety reasons after a chance for a hearing is given, though some attorneys said that can take weeks.

Harris County’s misdemeanor judges, criminal defense organizations and the NAACP of Texas argued in their lawsuit filed Wednesday that Abbott’s order violates the constitutional separation of powers and keeps only poor defendants in jails. The plaintiffs, represented in part by the ACLU of Texas and the Texas Fair Defense Project, asked the court to declare Abbott’s order unconstitutional and an overreach of his power.

“We are pleased that the Court recognized the urgency of this matter and the need to press pause while it is heard in full,” said Angre Segura, legal director for the ACLU of Texas, in a statement after the ruling. “The Governor has an important role to play in responding to this pandemic, but he cannot impede the ability of judges to use their discretion to release particular individuals, especially when lives are at risk.”

In a virtual hearing Friday, Livingston repeatedly questioned how the governor’s order affected public safety and whether he could make a widespread decision to take away judges’ authority to individually assess defendants.

“I’m just trying to understand how this order without regard to any particular specific information about a case can blanketly decide that a personal bond is not necessary or appropriate or required in a particular situation,” she said. “I’m troubled by the sort of blanket nature of that order in the same way that apparently the governor was concerned about a blanket order from judges that hasn’t yet happened but could theoretically be entered.”

Adam Biggs, special litigation counsel for the Texas attorney general (who is also a defendant in the lawsuit), argued that the order doesn’t push against individual assessments, but mass releases of jail inmates which he said were being considered by county officials. He noted that judges can still set bonds at $1 if they believe it is the right thing to do.

“The use of [personal] bonds for mass release of both violent and nonviolent folks, mostly the violent… poses serious risk to public safety, puts victims back in the paths of their assailants and taxes already stretched law enforcement resources to a breaking point,” he said in the court hearing Friday.

Biggs said Abbott’s order was intended to end confusion on whether there could be potential mass releases of inmates. He often referred to Harris County, where County Judge Lina Hidalgo this month ordered the release of some nonviolent inmates — in standing with Abbott’s order. The order was later voided by one from the county’s district judges stating they had jurisdictional power and her order had no force. It’s a ruling with which Livingston agreed and equated with Abbott’s push to take over judicial decision-making.

“What confusion is solved by the governor taking action in this way when in my mind, and apparently in the mind of the Harris County district judges, there’s no confusion at all?” she asked Biggs. “I think the judges do what they do and that Harris County order seemed to bear that out: This is what judges do everyday and we will handle it, thank you very much.”

She later added that the county judge can’t tell local judges how to make decisions. “That’s not how separation of powers works; that’s not how reality works.”

Livingston’s order is in effect until April 24, when another hearing will be held.

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