Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Protest Has No Permit But Officials Say 'We Don't Anticipate Problems'

Posted By on Tue, Jan 31, 2017 at 1:50 PM

click to enlarge The photo from the Facebook event page for Wednesday's protest. - COMUNIDADES UNIDAS EN UNA VOZ
  • Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz
  • The photo from the Facebook event page for Wednesday's protest.

City officials said a group organizing a protest in Downtown Memphis Wednesday evening never “actually” applied for a permit to march but “we don’t anticipate problems.”

Two groups, Leadership from Refugee Empowerment Program (LREP) and Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz (CUUV), joined separate efforts planned for Wednesday evening to protest executive orders on immigration and refugees signed recently by President Donald Trump.

“After only a week in office, the president has signed three radical executive orders that completely upend our immigration system and betray our American values,” reads the Facebook event page for the protest. “This is not who we are. We must come together to show that we won't stand for these kinds of attacks on our communities. No Ban. No Walls. No Mass Deportations. We All Belong.”

The event is planned for at 5 p.m. at Clayborn Temple. The group will then walk down Pontotoc to Mulberry to end at the National Civil Rights Museum.

However, some on Facebook were concerned that no permit for the march also meant no security for the event, either. Some organizers said they applied for a permit but were denied by city officials because the application did not come at least 14 days prior to the planned event.

Bradley Watkins, executive director at Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, said on Facebook the city "permit office refuses to process [the groups'] request for a permit because of an arbitrary and rarely and selectively enforced rule that requires 14 days notice for public events."

"The problem is that people rarely know that they are going to need to have a protest 14 days in advance; these days even more so," Watkins wrote Monday. "Fourteen days ago the Trump administration had not come into being yet."

City leaders said the groups were told of the 14-day notice “and the need for MPD to balance resources coupled with the responsibility of keeping everyone safe—including protestors.”

Here’s the full statement on the matter from city of Memphis chief legal officer Bruce McMullen:

"With our police staffing situation, we need the 14-day notice in order to arrange manpower to protect the protesters and the public.

The Memphis Police Department has worked well with those who wish to exercise their right to peaceful protest, which we firmly believe in and will continue to protect.

We ask that those who wish to protest abide by the regulations that are in place for the benefit of all — the protesters, the police, and the taxpayers.

Should any organizer feel their event meets an exception to the ordinance, it is incumbent on them to give the permits office written notice pursuant to the ordinance.”

Urusula Madden, the chief communications officer in Memphis mayor Jim Strickland’s office, said, however, “we know the protest is going to happen, as long as it's peaceful we don't anticipate problems.”

click to enlarge A protest sign planned for Wednesday's event. - COMUNIDADES UNIDAS EN UNA VOZ
  • Comunidades Unidas en Una Voz
  • A protest sign planned for Wednesday's event.

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