Tuesday, September 5, 2017

City Council Makes Headway to Remove City's Confederate Statues Regardless of Historical Commission's October Decision

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 4:31 PM

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The Memphis City Council unanimously agreed Tuesday to sponsor an ordinance that allows the statues of Nathan Bedford Forrest in Health Sciences Park and Jefferson Davis in Memphis Park, as well as any related artifacts to be immediately removed from the City, even if the Tennessee Historical Commission denies the city's waiver request in October.

Citing a U.S. Supreme Court decision mandating equal access to public parks, council attorney Allan Wade told the council's executive committee that the best way to legally remove the statues is to start an ordinance that establishes a city policy for the immediate removal of the Confederate monuments from public spaces.

This policy, he says, is based on the notion that the two statues, and artifacts like it on city-owned property "constitute a public nuisance," which state law defines as anything that interferes with the public's use enjoyment of the spaces.

Wade continues that the statues "potentially infringe upon the civl rights of the significant majority of the population of the city."

Violating someone's constitutional rights takes precedent over state laws, Wade says.

If you start with a Constitutional premise, he says, "there is no justifications for these statues to be there as an impediment to African Americans."

If passed, the ordinance will not take effect until after the THC votes on the Forrest statue waiver at its October 13 meeting.

Wade says he wants to allow the THC to "do the right thing. If they don't, then this ordinance says unleash the dogs."

The final vote for the ordinance is set for October 3.

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Memphis' Immigrant Community Says its Dreams Don't End With Termination of DACA

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 3:20 PM

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After U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced Tuesday that the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program, which allows young undocumented immigrants to avoid deportation, would be rescinded with a six-month delay period, the city's immigrant community is disappointed, but not deterred.

The six-month delay or "orderly wind down" is designed for Congress to construct its own immigration legislation before the program is phased out in March 2018.

Sessions says DACA, created during former President Barack Obama's era was an "unconstitutional exercise of authority by the executive branch." He continues that DACA allowed hundreds of illegal aliens to take jobs from American citizens.

Tennessee representative Steve Cohen disagrees, saying in a statement that the decision to end DACA is "heartless, illogical, and un-American."

"DACA is a commonsense, compassionate program that helps protect from deporting young people who were brought to the United Sates by no choice of their own," Cohen continues.

He says that according to the Center for American Progress, 95 percent of the DACA participants are either working or in school.

"The decision in not only harmful for the DREAMers, but also for America which relies on them for a more effective and productive workforce," Cohen says. "I urge Congress to move quickly to protect these bright and talented young people who have significantly contributed to what makes America great."

Eliminating DACA will affect about 800,000 young people, in some cases, paving the way for them to be deported. Of that number, more than 8,000 are Tennesseans, according to officials with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition (TIRRC).

Officials with TIRRC, along with those from Latino Memphis, are pushing for legislation that would protect the DREAMers. Latino Memphis officials say the bipartisan Dream Act is a "good step toward fixing a broken and outdated immigration system."

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MPD Spends Over $55K on Overtime to Man Rallies, Protests Last Month

Posted By on Tue, Sep 5, 2017 at 10:59 AM

Officers manning a protest a the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park on Aug. 18
  • Officers manning a protest a the Nathan Bedford Forrest statue in Health Sciences Park on Aug. 18

The Memphis Police Department (MPD) spent more than $55,000 in overtime dollars in just the second half of August while manning rallies and protests at Graceland, Health Sciences Park, and Memphis Park, according to Deputy Chief Don Crowe.

Crowe told a Memphis City Council committee Tuesday that in addition to those overtime dollars, the department spent just under $9,000 for on-duty officers to keep a presence at the two parks which are both home to controversial Confederate statues.

That's a total of $63,826. Councilwoman Patrice Robinson says "that's a lot of money to spend on overtime."

Robinson asked Crowe if boarding up the Confederate statues would cause fewer people to visit the parks, and result in a need for less police presence. Similarly, council member Janis Fullilove suggested adding more cameras to the parks, which would allow officers to only respond when necessary.

But, MPD officials told council members that the department doesn't "want to be reactive, but proactive," and that the around-the-clock patrolling would continue indefinitely.

Crowe, along with Deputy Director Mike Ryall, adds that MPD is patrolling the parks solely to protect the people, and not the statues which council member Robinson says is a common notion among the community.

"I can assure you that that's not the case," Ryall said. "Our stance is the protection of life."
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