Terrence Johnson, his mother, and a half-dozen other speakers appeared before about 200 supporters at a Northeast Washington church yesterday to depict Prince George's County's police as racist and brutal and to rally support for Johnson, who is accused of killing two county officers last June.
Johnson, a 15-year-old Bladensburg youth who is scheduled to be tried in late January on charges of shooting officers Albert M. Claggett IV and James Brian Swart last June 26 in the Hyattsville police station, said, "When I tell my story, you'll know it's true."
His mother, Helen Johnson, the Rev. Perry Wingate of the Purity Baptist Church -- where the rally was held -- and speakers from groups such as the D.C. United to Fightback, the D.C. Black Officers Police Association, and the United League of Northern Mississippi described Johnson as a youth who exercised self-defense against the police and warned of efforts by county officials and the Ku Klux Klan to railroad Johnson.
Johnson, who has been free on bail since last Oct. 17, returned to school at a private academy in the Washington area last week as a result of the efforts of his supporters.
Carol Garvin, a leader of fund-raising efforts for Jonnson's legal defense, said that the academy had agreed to waive Johnson's tuition for the seven weeks of classes he will attend before his trial.
"We are just trying to help Terry lead a relatively normal life," she said. "He should be able to go to school and study and live a quiet life that will help him with some of the pressure he's under."
Johnson sat quietly during most of yesterday's rally, surrounded by supporters serving as bodyguards. Occasionally, he applauded the remarks of speaking defending him and vowing to raise $25,000 for his defense.
His mother told the crowd that "the Prince George's County police for many years have done anything they want to blacks and poor people and nobody has tried to stop them."
The KKK is alive in our community," she said. "The Klan is lining up support. They have decided that (Terrence) must not live."
"As long as the police think that... we won't fight, they will continue to kill us," Johnson said.
Robert Johnson, Terrence's father, did not speak at the rally, but said as he watched the cheering supporters, "I don't think it will help (Terrence) in court. But it's making him feel better that he's not out there by himself."
The D.C. United to Fightback group said it was part of a national organization with chapters in 27 cities; the D.C. Black Officers Police Association is a rank-and-file group of about 150 members; and the United League of Northern Mississippi is a black activist group that endorses violence "as a means of self defense," according to its leader.