South Dallas Supporters Stand By John Wiley Price

In the courtroom, Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price is a defendant. In the south Dallas community he represents, Price is a hero.

"He's a people's person. We like him. He's the man downtown, and I think he needs to stay downtown," said Mae Kessee, a Price supporter having lunch at South Dallas Cafe on Tuesday, the first day of jury selection in Price's trial.

"He needs to stay in downtown Dallas. Not in the downtown jail," Kessee said.

Dallas Examiner publisher Mollie Finch Belt has known Price for more than 30 years. The newspaper focuses on the city's African American community.

"He has always been outspoken. He's the voice of the African American community. If you want somebody to get in a room, tell you the truth, tell you what's happening, then John would do it," said Belt. "You know why they call him the man downtown? They call him that because any time something was wrong, the black community could always call on John and he would try to straighten it out."

Belt is a friend of Price's and said they don't talk about the trial.

"If you interview a lot of people on the street, they don't think he's done anything wrong. The perception is he's done so many good things for the black community," said Belt.

Belt added Price was influential in convincing Dallas television stations to hire African American journalists. She said it was one of Price's biggest accomplishments.

"I've personally witnessed Commissioner Price out on the front lines trying to represent the interests of black folks," said supporter Darrell Lyons. "Commissioner Price will fight for anyone he believes in. I don't think he's perfect, but I don't think any of us are. He's saying he's innocent. We live in a society that says you're innocent until proven guilty."

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