Thursday, June 20, 2019

Local Leader Questions Legitimacy of Trump’s Mass Deportation Threat

Posted By on Thu, Jun 20, 2019 at 12:35 PM

Latino Memphis members distribute immigration information - LATINO MEMPHIS
  • Latino Memphis
  • Latino Memphis members distribute immigration information

The leader of a local organization that advocates for the Latino community here called President Donald Trump’s recent threats to remove “millions of illegal aliens” an “explosive” and “divisive" comment, and questioned the verity of the claims. 


On Monday, the president tweeted that Immigration Customs and Enforcement (ICE) agents would begin removing undocumented immigrants from the country next week.


“Next week ICE will begin the process of removing the millions of illegal aliens who have illicitly found their way into the United States,” Trump tweeted. “They will be removed as fast as they come in. Mexico, using their strong immigration laws, is doing a very good job of stopping people long before they get to our Southern Border. Guatemala is getting ready to sign a Safe-Third Agreement.


“The only ones who won’t do anything are the Democrats in Congress. They must vote to get rid of loopholes, and fix asylum. If so, the Border Crisis will end quickly.”

Executive director of Latino Memphis, Mauricio Calvo said Trump’s statement is “another explosive, non-deliverable, and divisive comment from the president.”


“It doesn't make any sense logistically, economically, politically, and most importantly, it doesn't recognize that we are talking about people,” Calvo said. “However, deportations and separation of families are very real and a daily tragedy in our city.


"Thousands of Memphians who are among our neighbors, employees, and friends of our children are vulnerable to this reality.”


Calvo said one way to prepare for this reality is to become informed, citing the national immigration defense campaign, We Have Rights. The campaign’s website gives undocumented immigrants instructions on how to protect themselves when encountering ICE officers or when detained.


For example, the website explains that ICE agents are not allowed to enter or search a home without a warrant signed by a judge. Undocumented immigrants have the right to ask the agents to leave if they do not have a signed warrant.


We Have Rights advises those who have been arrested not to sign any paperwork, to remain silent, and to ask to speak to a lawyer even if they don’t have one. See the video at the bottom for more detail. Anyone who is arrested can be located via this site.

Calvo also encourages people to get involved in the issue by voting for legislators who support immigration reform.

When asked about the president’s tweet and whether or not ICE would execute raids in Shelby County, ICE’s office of public affairs shed little light on next week’s plans.


ICE officials offered this response in an email to the Flyer:

"The border crisis doesn't start and stop at the border, which is why ICE will continue to conduct interior enforcement without exemption for those who are in violation of federal immigration law," the statement reads. "This includes routine targeted enforcement operations, criminals, individuals subject to removal orders, and worksite enforcement.

"This is about addressing the Border crisis by upholding the rule of law and maintaining the integrity of the immigration system, as created by Congress."

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Memphis Pets of the Week (June 20-26)

Posted By on Thu, Jun 20, 2019 at 11:47 AM

Each week, the Flyer will feature adoptable dogs and cats from Memphis Animal Services. All photos are credited to Memphis Pets Alive. More pictures can be found on the Memphis Pets Alive Facebook page.

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Debt Relief On the Way for Some ITT Tech Students

Posted By on Thu, Jun 20, 2019 at 11:29 AM

A 2016 photo from ITT Tech's Cordvoa campus. - ITT TECH/FACEBOOK
  • ITT Tech/Facebook
  • A 2016 photo from ITT Tech's Cordvoa campus.


Did you borrow money to attend ITT Tech, the failed, for-profit college? Debt relief may be on the way.

ITT filed bankruptcy in 2016 after investigations by state attorneys general and the U.S. Department of Education. That investigation restricted ITT’s access to federal student aid.
ITT TECH/FACEBOOK
  • ITT Tech/Facebook

Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery said Wednesday a settlement deal will bring $6 million in debt relief for 699 former ITT Tech students in Tennessee.

That settlement is part of a national deal with 42 states and the District of Columbia totaling more than $168 million for more than 18,000 former ITT students.

The settlement is between the states and a company called Student CU Connect CUSO (CUSO). It offered about $189 million in loans to finance students’ tuition at ITT Tech between 2009 and 2011.

“Hundreds of Tennessee students who were simply trying to further their education at ITT Tech were harmed by CUSO,” Slatery said. “This settlement holds CUSO accountable for its abusive lending practices and provides relief to those who attended ITT Tech and incurred debts for a questionable education that they could not repay nor discharge.”
The Attorneys General alleged that ITT, with CUSO’s knowledge, offered students temporary credit when they enrolled to cover the gap in tuition between federal student aid and the full cost of the education. That credit was to be repaid before the student’s next academic year, “although ITT and CUSO knew or should have known that most students would not be able to repay the [temporary credit] when it became due,” reads a statement.
Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery
  • Tennessee Attorney General Herbert Slatery
Students complained that they thought the temporary credit was like a federal loan and would not be due until six months after they graduated. When it became due, though, ITT ”pressured and coerced students into accepting loans” from CUSO, which for many students had high interest rates, far above rates for federal loans.

“Pressure tactics used by ITT included pulling students out of class and threatening to expel them if they did not accept the loan terms,” reads a statement. “Because students were left with the choice of dropping out and losing any benefit of the credits they had earned – ITT’s credits would not transfer to most other schools – most students enrolled in the CUSO loans.”

Neither ITT nor CUSO told students what the true cost of repayment for the temporary credit would be until after it was converted to a loan. The default rate on the CUSO loans was “extremely high,” about 90 percent, “due to both the high cost of the loans as well as the lack of success ITT graduates had getting jobs that earned enough to make repayment feasible. The defaulted loans continue to affect students’ credit ratings and are usually not dischargeable in bankruptcy.”

CUSO won’t try to collect on the outstanding loans anymore. It will, instead, send notices to borrowers that the debt is cancelled and so are the automatic payments. The company will also update borrower information with credit reporting agencies.

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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Memphis Could Outright Ban Plastic Bags

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 12:01 PM

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Plastic bags at retail stores could soon be a thing of the past here, as the Memphis City Council is looking to ban retail stores’ distribution of plastic bags to customers at checkouts.


The ban would prohibit the distribution of single-use plastic bags at checkouts in retail establishments with 2,000 square feet or more. Back in November, councilman Berlin Boyd first proposed a seven-cent fee on plastic bags that shoppers take from retail stores. He then reduced the proposed fee to five cents earlier this year.


Votes on the ordinance were held several times after a new Tennessee law was signed by Gov. Bill Lee in April. The law bans local governments from regulating the “use, disposition, or sale of an auxiliary container.”


Now, the council is waiting for a legal opinion from the Tennessee Attorney General’s office on whether or not Memphis’ amended ordinance would violate the law.


The council will return to the issue at its July 2nd meeting.


If passed, each violation of the ordinance would result in a $50 fine.


According to the draft of the ordinance, sponsored by Boyd and Chairman Kemp Conrad, plastic bags place a cost burden on municipal trash and recycling operations, citing that only 1 percent of plastic bags are recycled.


The ordinance also states that the measure is meant to ensure “sustainable stewardship of the city’s environmental treasures, and a responsibility to prevent plastic bags from polluting and clogging our waterways and endangering wildlife and the broader ecosystem.”


If the council passes the measure, exceptions to the ban would include newspaper bags, dry cleaning and garment bags, bags provided by pharmacists, and take-out bags from restaurants.


The ban would also not include bags used to package loose items such as produce or candy.


If approved, the ban would take effect in January 2021.


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Memphis Goodwill Fined by Feds on Contract Claims About Disabled Workers

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 11:21 AM

MEMPHIS GOODWILL/FACEBOOK
  • Memphis Goodwill/Facebook

Memphis Goodwill Industries, Inc. will pay $150,000 to the federal government to resolve allegations that it falsely claimed compliance with a federal contract standard for employing disabled workers.

Memphis Goodwill won contracts with the federal Internal Revenue Service, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and the General Services Administration, through the government’s AbilityOne Program. Through that program, agencies must employ disabled workers for 75 percent of the direct labor hours on those contracts. 
MEMPHIS GOODWILL/FACEBOOK
  • Memphis Goodwill/Facebook


According to Michael Dunavant, U.S. Attorney, Memphis Goodwill said they complied with the regulation (and said so in certifications to the government) “when, in fact, the direct labor hours actually worked by disabled individuals were much lower.”

“Fraud on the AbilityOne program harms inclusion of workers in the program as well as law-abiding AbilityOne contractors,” said Thomas Lehrich, Inspector General of the U.S. AbilityOne Commission.

Dunavant said, “Protection of the United States Treasury against fraud, waste, and abuse is a top priority of this office and the Department of Justice.”

False claims that defraud federal government agencies compromise and harm their respective abilities to employ disabled individuals in our communities, and must be exposed,”he said in a statement. “We are pleased to recover these funds for the fraud perpetrated against the United States, and hope that this settlement amount will send a significant deterrent message to other dishonest contractors.”

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Ordination Event Works Around Tennessee 'Internet Married' Law

Posted By on Wed, Jun 19, 2019 at 10:57 AM

AMERICAN MARRIAGE MINISTRIES/FACEBOOK
  • American Marriage Ministries/Facebook

On July 1, ”internet married” is over in Tennessee.

State lawmakers this year passed a bill that prevents online-ordained ministers from marrying couples. The new rule (Public Chapter No. 415) gives that power to a broader array of government officials. But demands more from “ministers” of any stripe.

”Under present law, in order to solemnize the rite of matrimony, a minister, preacher, pastor, priest, rabbi, or other spiritual leader must be ordained or otherwise designated in conformity with the customs of a church, temple, or other religious group or organization and such customs must provide for such ordination or designation by a considered, deliberate, and responsible act,” reads the bill summary.
AMERICAN MARRIAGE MINISTRIES/FACEBOOK
  • American Marriage Ministries/Facebook


But American Marriage Ministries (AMM) will be in Memphis Monday for a free and easy (and legal, they say) workaround. The group, an official, nonprofit church, will provide in-person ordinations for anyone hoping to “internet marry” a couple. 
“With thousands of ministers stranded by the discriminatory Public Chapter No. 415, our ministers and the communities they serve are entitled to wedding ceremonies that reflect their values and beliefs, despite what the Tennessee legislature says!” reads a statement from AMM. “Without such ordinations, Tennessee couples will be forced into weddings officiated by religious leaders with differing values, or impersonal government weddings. Tennesseans deserve the choice, which online-ordination used to offer before the legislature revoked the rights of such ministers.”

The group will be at Shelby Farms Park Monday (6093 Great View Drive, #7 Chickasaw Pavillion), though the location is subject to change.
AMERICAN MARRIAGE MINISTRIES/FACEBOOK
  • American Marriage Ministries/Facebook
AMM’s executive director Lewis King said, “our position is that the couple is best equipped to vet their wedding officiant, not lawmakers.”

Memphis Flyer: Why are you doing this?

Lewis King: We’re here because Public Chapter No. 415 discriminates against non-traditional Tennessee ministers, preventing thousands of our ministers from exercising their freedom of religion by officiating wedding ceremonies. While we are doing everything we can to get this discriminatory law repealed, it is important that we do right by our ministers. By providing in-person ordination and training, AMM is giving our ministers a way to remain in compliance with Tennessees’ marriage law and meet their obligations to couples across the state.

Our position is that the couple is best equipped to vet their wedding officiant, not lawmakers. The notion that the state can decide which religious officials are allowed to perform this spiritual ceremony is not only profoundly unconstitutional, it’s also patently misguided — getting ordained is a spiritual act, not something that can be regulated like a drivers license.
Solemnizing marriage is an important spiritual service of love, that requires getting ordained, spending hours working on a ceremony, practicing it, and then delivering it on the wedding day. The disregard that Public Chapter No. 415 displays is not only offensive, it’s also an indication of how out of touch Tennessee's legislature is with the way that Tennesseans practice their faith!


MF: How does it work?

LK: Spiritual practice is a personal choice. If someone is called to serve their community as a minister that officiates weddings, our role is to empower them to do so in a professional and meaningful way. We do that by ordaining folks as ministers, which gives them the legal standing to solemnize marriage and sign wedding certificates.

AMERICAN MARRIAGE MINISTRIES/FACEBOOK
  • American Marriage Ministries/Facebook

As a nationally recognized church, we are able to ordain ministers, which gives them the legal standing to conduct certain ceremonies such as the solemnization of weddings. It's the same process, more or less, that all other churches use. Ours just happens to be much more user friendly, and less caught up in dogmatism because we want folks to be able to get ordained and get active in their communities on their own terms. That's why we've made it free and easy.

Getting ordained is only the first step towards becoming a marriage officiant. We also provide training and inspiration for our ministers, both online and with books that we publish. We guide our ministers through important steps like meeting with the couple and talking about what sort of ceremony they want, writing the script, practicing the ceremony and finally, how to lead the wedding ceremony when the big day comes.

AMERICAN MARRIAGE MINISTRIES/FACEBOOK
  • American Marriage Ministries/Facebook
MF: Does it satisfy Tennessee law?

LK: We've carefully reviewed the latest version of Tennessee's marriage law, including consulting internal, and external legal counsel to make sure that our ordinations meet the letter and spirit of the law — and they do! The new law “prohibits persons receiving online ordinations from solemnizing the rite of matrimony.” AMM is registered in Tennessee as a foreign nonprofit corporation, and we are providing in-person ordinations and training to our ministers like every other state-sanctioned institution does.

MF: How is it free?

LK: It's free because prior to the passage of Public Chapter No. 415, we were a resource-lite organization. That's the beauty of the internet! We're a 501c3 non-profit, which means we aren't trying to get rich here, and as long as we can keep the lights on in our office, we're happy. We fund our organization through our online store, where we sell books, information packets, and commemorative certificates that folks can use to remember their big day.
AMERICAN MARRIAGE MINISTRIES/FACEBOOK
  • American Marriage Ministries/Facebook
MF: Has this worked in other cities and states?

LK: Online ordination works, and we've got the numbers to prove it. Almost fifty percent of weddings in the U.S. last year were officiated by friends, family, and neighbors — ie. non-traditional ministers. Society has embraced this expression of spirituality. It's time for Tennessee's lawmakers to catch up. Most states welcome online-ordained officiants, and they have successfully officiated millions of weddings over the years. That's because other states respect the separation of church and state, and realize it's not their role to adjudicate how religious institutions conduct their internal affairs such as ordination.
We've never seen anything quite like Public Chapter No. 415, and we hope that Tennessee realizes how destructive this new law is and repeals it soon because if you aren't affiliated with a mainstream church, you're relegated to a government official as your officiant. The last thing a couple wants is for their wedding to feel like a trip to the DMV.

MF: Tell me, briefly, about AMM and how does this ordination event fit into its mission?

LK: We are a non-profit, interfaith and non-denominational constitutional church that is federally recognized by the IRS as a 501(c)3 Public Charitable Organization. Drawing on the freedom of religion clause in the United States Constitution, AMM provides free ordination, advocacy, and training for our ministers to ensure that all people have the right to get married and to perform marriage.
AMERICAN MARRIAGE MINISTRIES/FACEBOOK
  • American Marriage Ministries/Facebook
We maintain that spirituality is an intensely personal path, and for many Americans, their wedding is an opportunity to express their values and beliefs. That's only possible if there's a minister that shares that worldview, and by offering free ordination, we ensure that the couple can call on those that are best suited to the task.

Our three tenets are:

1. All people, regardless of race, gender, or sexual orientation, have the right to marry.
2. It is the right of every couple to choose who will solemnize their marriage.
3. All people have the right to solemnize marriage.
AMERICAN MARRIAGE MINISTRIES/FACEBOOK
  • American Marriage Ministries/Facebook

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

MLGW: No Rate Increases Slowing Lead Pipe Replacements

Posted By on Tue, Jun 18, 2019 at 2:47 PM

MLGW
  • MLGW

Officials with Memphis Light, Gas, and Water (MLGW) said the fact that there have been no rate increases this year has slowed down the utility’s replacement of lead pipes.


Giving a Memphis City Council committee an update on MLGW’s lead line replacement progress, Rhonda Morgan, MLGW’s manager of water, construction, and maintenance, said the utility had to cut the budget for this service after no rate increases were approved for MLGW by the council earlier this year.


The line item that includes funding for replacing lead lines was cut by 80 percent, dropping from $7.4 million to $1.5 million, Morgan said.


Since 2012, MLGW has replaced 3,417 lead service lines, Morgan said. So far this year, the utility has replaced 224 lines.


The goal was to have all the lead lines replaced by 2022, but Morgan said she doesn’t think that is “feasible” with MLGW’s current staffing. The utility can replace between 1,200 to 1,500 lines a year with its current personnel, Morgan said.


Morgan said the utility is responsible for only the street service line which runs from the curb stop to the main water line. MLGW replaces these pipes if they are lead.

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Beyond the curb, it becomes the responsibility of the homeowner to have the lines inspected by a plumber and replaced if necessary.


Councilwoman Cheyenne Johnson questioned if the utility provides assistance to those who can’t afford to have their end of the line replaced.


MLGW president and CEO, J.T. Young said the utility is trying to find ways to help customers in those situations and similar ones. However, he said to date, the utility hasn’t been able to secure any grants or other funding sources for those efforts, but that MLGW is “continuing to pursue” those options.


There is a map on MLGW’s website that will tell you if MLGW has found lead in your water pipes. Morgan said homeowners are notified of the replacement before and after the service is completed.


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Monday, June 17, 2019

Lemoyne-Owen Professor's Brandon Webber Comments Draw Ire

Posted By on Mon, Jun 17, 2019 at 12:57 PM

Tom Graves - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Tom Graves

A Memphis author and tenured professor at Lemoyne-Owen College is receiving backlash for comments about last week’s officer-involved shooting in Frayser.


Tom Graves teaches English at Lemoyne-Owen College, a historically-black college. In a Facebook post, he called Brandon Webber, the 21-year-old black man who was shot and killed by U.S. Marshal officers here last week, a “fucking idiot.”


“So let me get this straight,” Graves wrote. “A wanted felon who shot a guy five times was found in Frayser by U.S. Marshals. So, the fucking idiot tries to run over the Marshals with his vehicle then exits the car with a gun. So, the war he starts with a whole gang of U.S. Marshals, everyone an expert shooter ends with him dead as Dillinger.”


Graves then discusses the community uprising that ensued after the shooting, saying what happened next “makes me seethe.”

“A riotous crowd gathers and begins to harass and intimidate law enforcement on the scene,” Graves said. “Mayhem ensues. People get arrested. Asshole thugs in the crowd fire their weapons. Tear gas. Batons. Shields.”


Graves continues, criticizing activists and leaders like Tami Sawyer, who Graves said defended Webber.


“Others relate what a wonderful student he was,” Graves wrote of Webber. “His Facebook posts attest to thuggery, with him holding up fistfuls of cash, as if he were the king daddy pimp. Defending this man is wrong. He should be condemned for what he was and represented and did.”

See Graves' full post at the bottom of the page.

Many people took issue with Graves’s post. Some even called for his dismissal at the college:

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In a comment on another one of his Facebook posts, Graves explained that his original post was only meant for his friends, but that it was screen-capped and shared around social media. Graves adds that he doesn’t “discuss this stuff with my students.”


“I don't discuss this stuff with my students — I teach them writing,” Graves said. “And I love and respect my students. I did not want all this to get so out of hand. Lots of folks black and white agree with my take on the Frayser incident.”


Terrell Lamont Strayhorn, vice president of academic and student affairs at LOC said via Facebook that the college is aware of the incident and is working to resolve it.


“Please know that posts made by individuals do NOT reflect the collective values and commitments of LeMoyne-Owen College,” Strayhorn said.

The LOC Student Government Associated sent a letter to Graves in response to his comments, calling them “appalling.” The students said they would like to “express our discontentment at the insincerity with which you commented on the Brandon Webber case.”


“While we agree that we do not have the facts of the case, we are in unanimous disagreement with your verbiage and disregard for the impact which your words would have on the community you serve,” the letter reads. “As a professor at a historically black college, you are keenly aware of the challenges unique to the black/African-American community.


Given the experiences of the students you teach, your implicit justification of the unfortunate events which happened have not been taken lightly.”


The students are calling for a public apology to the students and administration of the college and its stakeholders.

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Friday, June 14, 2019

Belvedere's 13th "Relatively New Music" Festival: Still Accessible, Still Free

Posted By on Fri, Jun 14, 2019 at 3:39 PM

Mark Volker, guitar and John McMurtery, flute, will perform at the 13th annual Belvedere Chamber Music Festival from June 19-22 at Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church.
  • Mark Volker, guitar and John McMurtery, flute, will perform at the 13th annual Belvedere Chamber Music Festival from June 19-22 at Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church.

One of the terrific cultural treasures in Memphis is happening again starting next week. The Belvedere Chamber Music Festival begins its 13th annual celebration of contemporary music next Wednesday, June 19th, offering six hour-long concerts over four days. And all are free.

“We’ve found a combination of programming that’s attractive to a lot of different people because it's not your typical new music festival in an academic setting,” says Patricia Gray, president of Luna Nova Music, the presenting organization.

And the format since the beginning has proved successful. There’s an opening reception Wednesday and then concerts at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday, plus 3:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. “The concerts last an hour and there's no intermission,” Gray says. “So, people are not sitting through five hours of Faust anymore, like it was 1880. I've never had anybody say, ‘I wish this lasted two and a half hours and there was a 20-minute intermission.’” And for all 13 years of the festival, the host has been Grace-St. Luke's Episcopal Church at 1720 Peabody.

The festival has donors and angels to contribute funding to pay the musicians and cover some travel. “I’d rather spend money on musicians than anything,” Gray says. “I would so much rather have 100 people free than 10 people there who spent $20 a ticket.”

With that kind of attitude, Luna Nova can concentrate on the programming which, she says, she prefers to call “relatively new” music. “I think of it as 100-120 years back, something like that.” Gray is drawn to works between the wars and the early twentieth century, but close to half of the pieces are twenty-first century. But always, without fail, the festival opens with a single work by Johann Sebastian Bach. “I always think,” she says, “Bach is the mind of God, and it is the measure that everything else is matched against, so let's just remember who we are and think about Bach.”

What follows that Bach appetizer is well thought through. Often there are regional themes — it’s Latin American music this year — and most importantly, Gray hopes the works will connect with the listeners. “I like to have feedback from the audience that says, ‘I heard this, and it spoke to me some way.’” She wants pieces that have an emotional impact. “When I get in the car, is that still going through my mind? Do I want to go out and buy that track? You have to feel like you're listening to music that means something beyond that moment.”

Robert Patterson, who is married to Gray, has been with Luna Nova and the Belvedere festival since the beginning. He is a composer and performer (still playing French horn with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra) whose 2011 piece “Way of the River” will be presented Friday evening.

The six-part work — each based on a literary work — came about with the encouragement of bass clarinetist Nobuko Igarashi, a frequent performer at the festival, who wanted him to write something for her instrument and voice. Sara Teasdale’s poem “The River” got his attention: “I have to do something around this.”

As he was pulling together other texts and working on the composition, he was facing the illness of his mother and then the death of his father. “During that time is when I was working on this last one of these songs, the finale,” Patterson says, “and so it just got infused with all this parental loss, passing over the river to the next life. It's a very emotional piece for me for that reason. It started out just as a sort of a favor for a friend, but became this eulogy for my parents.”

For more information: belvederefestival.org.

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Facing History: People 'Loved' Working With Brandon Webber

Posted By on Fri, Jun 14, 2019 at 11:17 AM

TWITTER
  • Twitter

Facing History and Ourselves, a Memphis non-profit focused on education about racism, prejudice, and antisemitism, said Friday that Brandon Webber was involved with the group as a Central High School student.

Webber was shot and killed Wednesday evening by U.S. Marshals attempting to arrest him on warrants for a shooting incident in Hernando, Mississippi earlier this month.

Since the shooting, Webber has been hailed as a good student, loving father, and gifted artist by friends and family in online memorials. Law enforcement officials in Mississippi called him violent and "cold-blooded."

TWITTER
  • Twitter

In a message to its members on Friday, Facing History and Ourselves gave a long list of Webber's involvement with the group. They said people "loved working with him" and that his personality was contagious."

Here's the message in full:

"When Brandon was involved with Facing History as a student at Central High School from 2015-2017, we were impressed by his leadership qualities and found him to be a passionate young man about the issues facing his community.

Brandon first got involved in Facing History and Ourselves his freshman year at Central High; he took Mary McIntosh’s freshman history class.
In his sophomore year, he joined the Student Leadership Group (SLG). He was a facilitator for the SLG/ Warriors Unite group at Central. This group of 120 students facilitated the advisory sessions.

FACING HISTORY AND OURSELVES/FACEBOOK
  • Facing History and Ourselves/Facebook
He also facilitated at our community teach-in's, where he met students from other schools.

His co-facilitators always loved working with him. His personality was contagious and he made the participants feel at ease while talking about difficult topics. Brandon was passionate about breaking down stereotypes in his school.

His senior year he spoke on a panel and shared his life story at our symposium. Brandon said, 'The Facing History course helps you find out who you are as a person, and who the people beside you are. It helps you break down stereotypes.'"

Later, Facing History issued a formal statement about Webber's death.

Here it is:

"The Facing History and Ourselves community grieves the death of Brandon Webber and the subsequent violence that occurred in the Frayser neighborhood of Memphis.

Brandon was a member of our Student Leadership Group and respected by his peers; he was passionate about breaking down stereotypes in his school and community. We offer our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.

We have no information on the details of these incidents to provide, only our condolences.

As an organization dedicated to lifting up young people using education we are particularly saddened by this tragedy."

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Webber’s Shooting Called 'Boiling Point For Community'

Posted By on Fri, Jun 14, 2019 at 10:44 AM

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Civil rights groups say the community’s response to Wednesday’s fatal shooting of Brandon Webber at the hands of U.S. Marshals officers goes beyond the events of this week and is the result of years of injustice.


Just City said in a Thursday statement via Twitter that the neighborhood's response is based on “decades of sustained over-policing and entrenched policies that criminalize poverty.”


“The loss of another young life was but a spark on the smoldering ashes that exist in so many neighborhoods in our community,” reads the statement from Just City. “Every single day in Memphis, young and old alike encounter oppressive systems, which are nearly impossible to avoid or escape.”

Just City said the courts demand more time and attention from the poor than the wealthy, so “even simple traffic tickets can cause a crisis.”


“Hefty” court costs and fees, which if not paid result in driver’s license suspensions, is one way that Just City said those living in poverty are unfairly treated by the system.

“Law enforcement and courts demand accountability for the slightest misstep,” Just City said. “Yet when a life is taken in a hail of gunfire, we wait for days, weeks, or years for a simple description of what occurred, and officers are rarely, if ever, held accountable.”


Hedy Weinberg, director of the ACLU of Tennessee, shared similar sentiments Thursday, saying that the community’s response was “clearly one of pain, of frustration, of anger.”

“While we in no way condone violence against police officers, the boiling point reached by some individuals in the crowd last night is the consequence of decades of injustice, discrimination, and violence against black people in Memphis and beyond,” Weinberg said. “Of course people in Frayser are upset and angry. We should all be angry.”


Weinberg continues saying that to ignore the pain of protesters and instead to respond with “a militarized show of police force, only illustrates and reinforces the problem.”


Brandon Webber - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Brandon Webber

“To adapt the words of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., unrest is the language of the unheard,” Weinberg said. “To stem the erosion of trust between the community and law enforcement, it is incumbent on Memphis leaders to start listening. This means acknowledging the community’s legitimate pain and anger.”


Weinberg also questioned if there were any attempts made by the officers to de-escalate the situation before shooting Webber: “Was shooting Mr. Webber over a dozen times, if reports are accurate, really necessary?”


There should be a “swift, thorough, and transparent” investigation into the shooting and a “prompt” release of any footage or evidence related to the incident, Weinberg said.

The Memphis branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) also wants answers surrounding Webber’s death.


In a Thursday statement, Deidre Malone, president of the Memphis branch, said the group is “very interested” in determining whether or not the U.S. Marshal officers that shot Webber were wearing body cameras and if there “was a better way to engage Mr. Webber once he was located.”


“Unfortunately for our citizens, Memphis is again in the spotlight over a shooting of an African American,” Malone said. “The NAACP Memphis Branch will continue to ask these questions until we obtain a response.”


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Thursday, June 13, 2019

Hernando DA Says Webber Was Suspect in Shooting, Robbery

Posted By on Thu, Jun 13, 2019 at 4:56 PM

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Officials say the 21-year-old man who was shot and killed by U.S. Marshal officers Wednesday in Frayser was wanted for shooting and robbing a man in Hernando, Mississippi earlier this month.


Hernando District Attorney John Champion said Thursday afternoon that Brandon Webber met the victim in Hernando on June 3rd to purchase a car from him, which he’d seen advertised on Facebook. After test driving the car, Webber “cold-bloodily” shot the victim five times before fleeing in the red Infiniti, Champion said.


The victim, who is still in the hospital, later identified Webber as the shooter. Because Webber, a Memphis resident, lived out of the Hernando Police Department’s jurisdiction and was a “violent fugitive,” Champion the said U.S. Marshals Service Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force was employed to arrest him.


Webber was charged with aggravated assault, armed robbery, and conspiracy to commit armed robbery.


Champion adds that the task force was advised of the “serious nature of the charges that we had here, so obviously when they were up in Memphis looking for him, they were very aware of his propensity for violence.”


“The Marshals were dealing with a violent suspect, no doubt about it,” Champion said. “You just have to look at everything. I just wish that people would sit back and just see what happened.”


Champion said there is a second suspect that police believe to be involved in the shooting. A warrant for his arrest has been issued.


The preliminary report from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigations (TBI) stated that Webber was approached by the officers Wednesday night around 7 p.m outside of his home in Frayser.


TBI officials said in a Thursday statement that Webber “rammed his vehicle into the officers’ vehicles multiple times before exiting with a weapon. The officers fired striking and killing the individual. No officers were injured.”


The statement continued: “This remains an active and ongoing investigation, as TBI Special Agents and forensic scientists continue to work to gather any and all relevant interviews and evidence. As in any case, TBI’s investigative findings will be shared with the District Attorney General throughout the process for her review.


As is our policy, the TBI does not identify the officers involved in these types of incidents and instead refers questions of that nature to their respective department.


Any updates on this investigation will be posted online at TBINewsroom.com."


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DA: Webber Wanted for 'Violent Felony Offenses'

Posted By on Thu, Jun 13, 2019 at 2:27 PM

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Shelby County District Attorney General Amy Weirich said her office asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to review Wednesday's night shooting of Brandon Webber by the U.S. Marshals Office.

Weirich said Webber was wanted on multiple warrants, "including violent felony offenses," from an incident earlier this month in Hernando, Mississippi.

Here's Weirich's statement in full:

"Last night I asked the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation to investigate an officer-involved fatal shooting of a 20-year-old suspect wanted on multiple warrants, including violent felony offenses, from an incident that occurred June 3, 2019, in Hernando, Mississippi.
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"The shooting last night happened around 7 p.m. in the 2700 block of Durham Avenue in the Frayser area of Memphis, where members of the U.S. Marshals Service Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force were attempting to apprehend the suspect, Brandon Webber.

"When the TBI completes its investigation, their report will be reviewed by this office to determine whether any criminal laws were violated by officers involved in the shooting.

"Since this is an active investigation, under the law this office cannot comment on rumors or release details of the shooting at this time. See protocol here."

Earlier this week, Weirich decided not to file any charges against a police lieutenant who shot and killed Terrance Deshun Carlton, 25, last year. 

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'Say His Name #BrandonWebber:' Memphis Responds to Officer-Involved Shooting

Posted By on Thu, Jun 13, 2019 at 10:35 AM

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Memphis responded with sadness and outrage to last night's shooting of 21-year-old Brandon Webber by the United States Marshal Service.

We've collected tweets and posts below. But first, here's the official word from the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation (TBI).

"At the request of 30th District Attorney General Amy Weirich, TBI Agents are investigating the circumstances surrounding an officer-involved shooting that occurred in the Frayser Community of Memphis Wednesday evening.


Preliminary information indicates that at approximately 7 p.m., multiple officers with the United States Marshals Service – Gulf Coast Regional Fugitive Task Force encountered a male, wanted on multiple warrants, outside of a home in the 2700 block of Durham Street as he was getting into a vehicle. While attempting to stop the individual, he reportedly rammed his vehicle into the officers’ vehicles multiple times before exiting with a weapon. The officers fired striking and killing the individual. No officers were injured.

This remains an active and ongoing investigation, as TBI Special Agents and forensic scientists continue to work to gather any and all relevant interviews and evidence. As in any case, TBI’s investigative findings will be shared with the District Attorney General throughout the process for her review.


As is our policy, the TBI does not identify the officers involved in these types of incidents and instead refers questions of that nature to their respective department.

Any updates on this investigation will be posted online at TBINewsroom.com."

Memphis Police Department (MPD) responded to help the Marshals Service and assist with traffic control.


Various news reports said some 300 showed up at the scene. It all made national news.


The local National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) said it was watching the situation.


Shelby County Commissioner Tami Sawyer asked the NAACP to choose words carefully.


At least one disagreed with Sawyer.


Plenty of people disagreed with that, too.



Some braced for what could be coming next.

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Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Memphis Pets of the Week (June 13-19)

Posted By on Wed, Jun 12, 2019 at 4:32 PM

Each week, the Flyer will feature adoptable dogs and cats from Memphis Animal Services. All photos are credited to Memphis Pets Alive. More pictures can be found on the Memphis Pets Alive Facebook page.

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