By Robbie Owens

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DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – As the long-awaited corruption trial of Dallas County Commissioner John Wiley Price gets underway, his constituents remain fiercely loyal—and vocal in their support.

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Robert Ashley, long-time radio host on KHVN Heaven 97, today saw his phone lines light up when he asked listeners to weigh in on the trial.

“Anybody who’s taking a bold stand for African Americans…justice is always going to be focused on them,” said one caller.

Ashley says he has covered Commissioner Price since his first election to the commissioner’s court some thirty years ago. He says southern sector residents are troubled.

“People are concerned because they feel like Commissioner Price has put his life on the line for progress here in Dallas only to have the federal government single him out,” says Ashley. “In the community, there’s a perception of selective prosecution…because you’re an outspoken leader in this community.”

And many of his callers today agreed. “This case goes to the heart of racist Dallas,” insisted one caller who pointed out that if Commissioner Price is accused of accepting bribes, then there should also be charges leveled against those who offered those bribes.

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Another encouraged constituents to sit in on the trial. “Pack that courthouse. Go down there, sit in there and let them know that we are concerned about our man downtown.”

And while almost all callers expressed support for Commissioner Price, almost is not all.

“The central point is: did John Wiley Price take a bribe?” argued one caller, who then went on to mock allegations of racism and selective prosecution in the case. “I hear black folks say, well, you know, white folks did this…it doesn’t’ really matter! The fact is, if he’s corrupt, he’s got to go to jail!”

“Oh, this is huge,” says Cal Jillson, a political science professor at Southern Methodist University. “This is big because John Wiley Price is big. He has been a major figure in Dallas county politics… and the major figure in the southern sector… so, if he is laid low by this, it will be cause for mourning.”

For now, southern sector constituents like the rest of North Texas are waiting to see if the evidence supports the charges.

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