Friends and relatives of Michael Dean met with other citizens Saturday afternoon at Miller Park. Children played on nearby swings while people grilled hamburgers, chatted and in some cases registered to vote.
Deshaundra Dean-Smith and Tosheena Dean, both sisters of Michael Dean, organized the informal gathering. A printout of Bell County candidates and some background information on them was available, Deshaundra said. And Britt and Myrna Dalton, Bell County deputy registrars, were on hand to register voters.
“We just want people to know we can make a difference,” Dean-Smith said. “By not voting you’re agreeing with them.”
Taking a part in the election process goes beyond making a few statements on Facebook or other social media, she said.
“You can get out there and make a difference, and make some changes,” she said.
“Here we are, two months later,” she said, referring to the officer-involved shooting of Michael Dean, 28, on Dec. 2. Not a lot of information has been released about their brother, she said.
What is known is that Dean was shot in the head by Temple Police Officer Carmen DeCruz during a traffic stop. Dean did not have a weapon.
Tosheena Dean said the purpose of the community gathering was “definitely to bring light to the situation with Michael.”
“It is also to bring community awareness and bring the community together,” she said. “We want to tell the people, if you’re not happy, to get out and vote.”
“We don’t need another family to go through what we’ve gone through,” she said. “We want the right people in there to change these rules.”
Allison Lueck of Temple, who was making cheeseburgers, agreed about the importance of voting.
“I feel it is our duty to register, inform ourselves and vote, because I’m sure that’s the only way we are going to make change happen.”
Donna Bowling, who lives in South Temple, said she and some other citizens have been talking about providing rides to the polling places. “It’s kind of hard if you live in East Temple and don’t have a car,” she said. “I know the Dean family from days past. I remember when Michael was a teenager.”
Derron Wright of Temple said he also knew Michael Dean.
“He was a friend of mine,” he said. “We used to go to church together years ago. I am friends with Michael Dean’s sister, Deshaundra.
“I’m here for Michael Dean and waiting to get some answers for the family,” he said. “Keep the family in prayer. Eventually we’ll get the answers that we need.”
Bennie Walsh, president of the Temple NAACP, said the community needs information and communication about the Michael Dean case.
“The way they’re giving us information … it still looks like something is being hidden from us. We’re trying to be patient and let the system work, but it looks like the system is not going to work. We’re going to take the next step and contact the Justice Department. We’re trying to get them to come in and investigate what’s going on here in Temple. Hopefully we can get this behind us and move on.”
Walsh said he was really disappointed about the community not being told about a police report on the case that was made Dec 30, but which citizens had to find out about by going to a website.