(Photo: Justice for Brandon Jackson/Facebook)
Gloria Fisher is very much a woman on a mission not just to save her son, but also to prevent other young Black men from undergoing his fate.
Fisher has been working nonstop for a half-dozen years now to prove the innocence of her son, Brandon Jackson, who at age 21, was convicted by an all-white jury in New Jersey and sentenced to 12 years in prison for attempted murder. Since then her life has been a horrifying odyssey filled with courtrooms, lawyers and staggering legal fees.
“I want everyone to know what is going on with my son and that this is a situation that keeps happening to our young Black men,” Fisher said in an interview with BET.com. “The burden of proof has been placed on Brandon, not on the prosecution. He was not treated like someone who was innocent until proven guilty.”
The journey started in October 2006, when she said Brandon was attacked by a group of more than a dozen white men after helping his employer move furniture into her home in Jackson Township, New Jersey. In attempting to diffuse an altercation of a group of men nearby, Jackson instead was attacked by that group, who shouted racial slurs at him, Fisher said.
She added that her son brandished a three-inch work pocket knife in self-defense, forcing the group back, but that it was the homeowner’s call to police that would finally force the group to stand down. Jackson sustained injuries in the back of his head.
Although the police report listed the incident as a “racial offense,” Jackson was charged with aggravated assault and for carrying an illegal weapon.
It took more than two years for the case to go to a grand jury and the charges were then elevated to include attempted murder. The young man would consistently refuse to take a plea deal under which he would serve five years in prison for pleading to the charges.
Fisher said that prosecutors ignored much of the evidence that would have exonerated her son, including statements by the homeowner, who verified his version of events.
As a result, the case — and Brandon Jackson — have languished for years. And, in that time, the legal fees have grown exorbitantly, Fisher said, as she continues to get the courts to give her son’s case another hearing.
“I’m just trying to get the money together to pay the legal fees,” said Fisher, a retired clerk with Verizon. “It’s going into six years now and the cost has been astronomical. But I have to do what I know to be the right thing.”
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