The Austin Chronicle

The Family of Rodney Reed Keeps His Story Alive

At rallies and in media appearances, Sandra and Rodrick Reed are the public face of the cause

By Brant Bingamon, November 15, 2019, News

Sandra and Rodrick Reed, Rodney's mother and brother, have been the public faces and voices of the family during most of Rodney's imprisonment. "She's been speaking from day one," Rodrick said of his mother. "I've been speaking for my brother for about 17, almost 18 years." Speaking to reporters and rallies has become second nature to Rodrick; since September, he's been featured at rallies in Austin, Dallas, New York City, and Washington, D.C. He and his mother flew to Los Angeles in early October to appear on the Dr. Phil show. Afterward, he traveled to Ohio to appear with Sister Helen Prejean in a video asking Gov. Greg Abbott to commute Rodney's sentence.

The entire family, through the Reed Justice Initiative, is part of the process. "All my family members participate in their own way," Rodrick said. "All my brothers, they have their own functions that they do, they're just not out in the spotlight." Uwana Akpan, Rodrick's wife, helps coordinate appearances and interviews.

The family staged an ongoing protest at the Governor's Mansion from Sept. 30 through Oct. 4. Sandra Reed then spoke at the Capitol for the annual March to Abolish the Death Penalty on Oct. 19, and the family organized subsequent rallies at the Capitol and Governor's Mansion on Nov. 2 and 9, at which both Sandra and Rodrick spoke. Sandwiched in between have been interviews with NBC Nightly News, MSNBC, CNN, and dozens of print publications.

Rodrick says the family is grateful for the work of Rodney's attorneys – Bryce Benjet, Andrew MacRae, and the rest of the Innocence Project team. "They have helped us organize and get platforms all across the United States," Rodrick said. Like Benjet, he's received a call from Kim Kardashian West. "It is surreal, you know what I mean? I don't know how she got my number, but she called me personally and I talked to her and we're planning to meet here in the near future."

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