Friday, April 20, 2018

Haslam Signs Bill for Sunday Wine, Liquor Sales

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 11:34 AM


"Sunday Funday" might get a little more fun now that Tennesseans can now buy liquor on Sunday.

Gov. Bill Haslam signed the bill Friday making it legal for liquor stores to be open seven day a week and for grocery stores to sell wine on Sundays. 

Extended liquor store hours begin immediately, while grocery stores won’t be able to sell wine on Sundays until January 2019.

The bill narrowly passed in the Senate last week with a 17-11 vote. One less vote and the bill would have failed.

Illinois Resolution Spanks Tennessee House Members on Neo-Nazi Vote

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 11:07 AM


  • State of Illinois
  • Lang
An Illinois lawmaker has issued a blistering rebuke of the Tennessee General Assembly in a new resolution that calls out lawmakers here for failing twice to pass a resolution against  white nationalism and neo-Nazis.

Illinois Rep. Lou Lang, a Democrat and House Deputy Majority Leader, filed the resolution Tuesday. Since then, it has picked up four sponsors — two Democrats and two Republicans.

"The Tennessee House of Representatives failed to summon sufficient moral courage and basic decency to place itself on the record against such a sinister and pernicious ideology infecting the body politic of the United States," reads the resolution.

The resolution says Tennessee's House members have been "cowed by the growing influence of white nationalists and neo-Nazis." It claims the Illinois House, in contrast, "has no fear" of the groups and "abounds in moral courage and basic decency."
For this, Lang's resolution is a word-for-word copy of the resolution that Tennessee House members would not pass. That resolution failed twice here this year.

It reads, in part, "we strongly denounce and oppose the totalitarian impulses, violent, terrorism, xenophobic biases, and bigoted ideologies that are promoted by white nationalists and neo-Nazis."

The bill was referred to the Illinois House Rules Committee Wednesday.

Read the full Illinois resolution here.

GoFundMe for City Draws Dollars, Criticism

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 10:23 AM

In two days, 1,918 people raised $61,300 on a GoFundMe page to help fund Memphis' bicentennial and while the page organizer is slated to meet city officials Friday, the effort has faced backlash on social media. 

Brittney Block launched the page Wednesday morning after state lawmakers stripped $250,000 from the city as punishment for removing Confederate statues.
  • Twitter
  • Block

City officials have said they weren't expecting any money for the bicentennial from the state. Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland praised the effort on Twitter, saying "we love your initiative."

Block said Friday she was scheduled to meet with the mayor to discuss how the money should be spent.

Sawyer - TWITTER
  • Twitter
  • Sawyer

That meeting raised the ire of Tami Sawyer, an activist and politician central to #takeemdown901. Sawyer said when she had ideas for Strickland she was met at the door of Memphis City Hall by police.

Sawyer also penned an opinion piece for CNN that said state lawmakers are still "acting it's still 1968."
"If spending a large chunk of time finding ways to spank Memphis weren't enough to earn the Tennessee House the "most racist legislature" award for 2018, they doubled down on their actions by twice refusing to denounce white nationalism and neo-Nazism," Sawyer wrote in the piece.

Block's effort was also criticized by Meagan Ybos, an outspoken advocate for rape survivors and for holding rapists accountable.
  • Twitter
  • Ybos

Ybos said donors thinking they are "taking a brave stance on civil rights is laughable." In other tweets, Ybos stressed the move was "LOL laughable" and that for anyone who donates, "the joke is on you."

Journalist Wendi C. Thomas said Strickland should find someone else to pay for a bicentennial celebration.

Meanwhile, Block urged more people to donate.

But Block's effort isn't the only GoFundMe out there raising money for the city's bicentennial celebration. Three other pages are doing the same.

One of them was launched Thursday by Kyna Kyles Maynard, a woman from Lebanon, Tenn., a suburb east of Nashville. Maynard urged others to help her "stand up for what is good and what is right."

"As a resident of Tennessee, I am not here to complain or voice my displeasure with the legislative actions," Maynard wrote. "I am here to assist the city in recouping the funds needed to move forward with their celebration."
Another was launched on the same day as Block's by Mark Bird, of Eads. So far that one has raised $180. However, Bird is now asking anyone who finds his page to donate to Block's instead.

Yet another GoFundMe was established with a $250,000 goal for the bicentennial by David Humber, of Memphis. But money raised in that one is earmarked for Just City, a Memphis nonprofit for criminal justice reform.

"Although the campaign will not fund a celebration, your funds will be a lasting investment in the lives of persons in our city and in a non-profit that should be celebrated," Humber wrote.

Scenes from Memphis Students' Rally Against Gun Violence

Posted By on Fri, Apr 20, 2018 at 10:13 AM

  • Shelby County Schools

Hundreds of students at about 20 high schools here took a stand against gun violence Thursday by participating in a citywide walkout.

Some marched, some toted posters with messages against violence, and some held moments of silence.

See scenes from Thursday's events below.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Memphis Students Protest Gun Violence With Walkout

Posted By on Thu, Apr 19, 2018 at 10:49 AM

Hundreds gathered here in March to protest gun violence
  • Hundreds gathered here in March to protest gun violence

Students at about 20 high schools here plan to walk out of class at various times on Thursday to protest gun violence and other ills in schools.

Responding to the recent school shooting in Parkland, Florida that resulted in 17 deaths, the walkout is ahead of the 2,100 walkouts planned across the country as a part of national school walkout day on Friday — the 19th anniversary of the shooting at Columbine High School, where 13 people were killed.

Organized by students, the national walkout has three goals: hold elected officials accountable, generate solutions to gun violence, and to engage students in the political process.

In Memphis, students will have 17 minutes of silence, honoring each Parkland victim. They also will use the time as an opportunity to brainstorm solutions to gun violence. Via social media, using the hashtag #YouthSolutions901, students can make suggestions for ways to increase school safety.

The strongest recommendations from students will be presented at the school board meeting on Tuesday, April 24th, according to the walkout’s organizers.

At some schools, students will also take part in “know your rights” discussions, touching on issues like sexual harassment and police brutality. Students will also be given the chance to register to vote.

Students are also asking the Shelby County School administration to improve mental and emotional health services in school, hire more guidance counselors and social workers, to expand their restorative justice practices, and to provide protection for students and their families from Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Dorsey Hopson, SCS superintendent said ahead of Thursday's events that no students or teachers will be punished for participating in the walkout.

Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Poor People's Campaign Sets Training Session Ahead of 40-Day Action Plan

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 11:54 AM

Leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign, Revs. William Barber and Liz Theoharis - FACEBOOK
  • Facebook
  • Leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign, Revs. William Barber and Liz Theoharis

A training session to prepare for the Poor People’s Campaign's 40 days of nonviolent direct action will take place here Saturday, April 21st at 1 p.m.

Memphis is one of many cities across 30 states with residents planning to take part in the Poor People’s Campaign’s National Call for Moral Revival movement, which is aimed to “expose and engage in moral witness against injustice.”

Specifically, the movement is calling for the overhaul of voting rights laws, programs to help the 140 million Americans in poverty, attention to be brought to ecological devastation, and the curbing of militarism and the war economy.


Leaders of the Poor People’s Campaign, Revs. William Barber and Liz Theoharis unveiled the “moral agenda” last week during a national press conference in Washington D.C.

“Fifty years after Rev. Dr. King and the 1968 Poor People’s Campaign declared that silence was betrayal, we are coming together to break the silence and tell the truth about the interlocking evils of systemic racism, poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and our distorted moral narrative,” the moral agenda reads. “We declare that if silence was betrayal in 1968, revival is necessary today.”

The 40 days of action will begin on May 14th and continue through June 23rd, ending with a mass mobilization in Washington D.C.

During the first of the six weeks of action, the focus will be on fighting poverty among children, women, and those with disabilities.

Systematic racism, veterans and the war economy, ecological devastation, inequality, and the nation’s “distorted moral narrative” will respectively be the focus for the five subsequent weeks.

“With systemic racism and poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and the often-false moral narrative of Christian nationalism wreaking havoc on our society, people of all races, colors, and creeds are joining together to engage in moral direct action, massive voter mobilization and power building from the bottom up,” Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign said. “We will no longer allow attention violence to keep the poor, people of color and other disenfranchised people down.”

The demands of the moral agenda are drawn from The Souls of Poor Folk audit that the Poor People’s Campaign, along with the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) and the Urban Institute completed. The audit assesses the trends of poverty during the past 50 years, while addressing certain myths society holds about poverty.

John Cavanagh, director of the IPS said the study provides the data proving that poverty is a structural and systematic problem.

“There’s an enduring narrative that if the millions of people in poverty in the U.S. just worked harder, they would be lifted up out of their condition,” Cavanagh said. “But here we’re proving—with data and analysis spanning 50 years—that the problem is both structural barriers for the poor in hiring, housing, policing, and more, as well as a system that prioritizes war and the wealthy over people and the environment they live in.

“It is unfathomable, for example, that in the wealthiest nation in the world, medical debt is the No. 1 cause of personal bankruptcy filings, and 1.5 million people don’t have access to plumbing.”

To sign up for Saturday’s training session here, visit the Action Network site.

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Memphians Respond to State Punishment Over Statues

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 11:39 AM


Memphis social media was afire Wednesday morning with rebukes of state House lawmakers who voted Tuesday to take $250,000 from Memphis because city leaders removed Confederate statues.

Here are some of them. We'll post more later.

Memphians Rally to Replenish Punishment Funds

Posted By on Wed, Apr 18, 2018 at 11:37 AM


 Ideas are popping on how to replenish $250,000 taken away from the city's bicentennial celebration by state lawmakers who punished Memphis for removing Confederate statues.  

State House members approved a last-minute resolution Tuesday to remove the funds because city officials, in effect, removed the statues.

According to a story in The Commercial Appeal, House Democrats called the move, "vile," "racist," and "un-Christian." Republicans noted that bad actions came with bad consequences.

But whatever.

By Wednesday morning, some 90 people had raised nearly $3,000 on two separate GoFundMe pages. And chef Kelly English was working on his own plan.
One GoFundMe page, by Brittney Block, says, "If you are a Memphian and supported the removal of these statues in our community, please, consider donating; 25,000 of us donating $10 each would replenish the dollars lost."

"All money raised will be given to the city of Memphis," reads the page. "Our city should not be punished by the legislature for making decisions in the best interest of its community and citizens."
That page, called Memphis Budget Replenishment, had raised $2,450 by Wednesday morning.

Another page, by Mark Bird, had raised $170 by Wednesday morning.

"Let’s show that Memphians can support the brave leaders of our city that rejected these antiquated symbols of bigotry and hatred," reads the page called Memphis Bicentennial Fund. "All funds raised will be delivered to the city of Memphis and its mayor, Jim Strickland."

Around 10 pm. Tuesday, English tweeted an idea for a fundraiser of his own.

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

RiverArtsFest to Move From South Main to Riverfront

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 2:37 PM

  • Facebook- RiverArtsFest

The annual fine arts festival, RiverArtsFest, will be moving to the riverfront beginning this year, the nonprofit announced Tuesday.

For 11 years, RiverArtsFest has been on South Main between Webster and Huling, but with construction ramping up at Central Station and the festival growing larger each year, the organizers had to consider a change of venue.

“We have loved our time on South Main and working with the South Main Association,” Lee Askew, longtime festival director, said. “But the neighborhood today has more residents and businesses than when we launched RiverArtsFest 12 years ago.

Now, the two-day festival will take place on Riverside between Jefferson and Union, in step with Askew's stated goal of keeping the event Downtown.

“Logistically our footprint no longer fits within the streetscape of South Main, given the recent street closure and the reboot of the trolley line,” Askew continued. “We raised the idea of moving RiverArtsFest to Riverside Drive to the Downtown Memphis Commission and the Riverfront Development Corporation, and both were enthusiastic in their support.”

Carol Coletta, president and CEO of the Riverfront Development Corporation said the festival will be one of the first public events in the new Mississippi River Park at Fourth Bluff, which is expected to be completed by the fall.

The RiverArtsFest will be from October 27-28th this year and will feature a juried artists market with art from close to 200 artists from around the country. Types of art include paintings, photography, ceramics, jewelry, and glassworks.

Each year, a portion of festival profits goes toward funding fine arts scholarships at local colleges.

Zoo Denies Claim of Gender Discrimination

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 1:26 PM

Memphis Zoo president Chuck Brady - MEMPHIS ZOO
  • Memphis Zoo
  • Memphis Zoo president Chuck Brady

The Memphis Zoo denies that a former female employee “was discriminated or retaliated against” because of her gender.

Kimberly Terrell, a female conservation biologist, sued the zoo in December. She claimed she was fired from her job as the zoo’s director of research and conservation based on gender discrimination.

Her attorneys are suing the zoo for damages in excess of $75,000, including back pay, lost benefits, employment reinstatement, punitive damages, and all court fees.

J. Mark Griffee, the attorney for the zoo, responded to Terrell’s original lawsuit in mid-March, saying her claims of discrimination were unfounded.

“Memphis Zoo denies Dr. Terrell was discriminated against or retaliated against on account of her gender,” Griffee wrote in one response to the many claims in Terrell’s original lawsuit.

In that original suit, Terrell painted a picture of an ongoing tension that grew between her and zoo president Chuck Brady. She said she’d built a “strong record of success at the zoo” but Brady increasingly attacked her performance and she felt it was because she was female.
The zoo’s attorney refutes this. Instead, he painted a picture of an ongoing “substandard performance of [Terrell’s] duties.” It was the reason, he said, Terrell received only standard bonuses and no pay raise one year.

Critiques of her performance and her ultimate firing came as “Dr. Terrell failed to address, change, or improve her substandard work performance at the Memphis Zoo.”

“…On Nov. 27, 2017, Dr. Terrell was terminated for failure to perform job duties as instructed, dereliction of duties, and willful misconduct,” reads the attorney’s answer to Terrell’s complaint. 

As for direct misconduct, zoo officials said Terrell “willfully disobeyed a clear, written, and direct order in September 2017” regarding the planned artificial insemination of one of the zoo’s elephants.

The zoo’s attorney said Terrell created a hostile work environment when she ”fired or forced the resignation of multiple employees.” Though, Terrell claimed her employees had “cordial relationships.”
The zoo denied a long list of accomplishments Terrell claimed in her two years with the zoo, including 15 new science projects and partnerships with groups like the University of Memphis, and the Omaha Zoo.

The zoo refuted the claim that Brady did not give Terrell regular performance reviews until she suggested his treatment of her was related to her gender. Also, the zoo’s attorney said Brady did take notes during the meetings, provided “pages” of feedback during subsequent performance reviews, and did give those notes to Terrell when she asked for them.
Terrell - TWITTER
  • Twitter
  • Terrell

However, the zoo admitted Brady called Terrell “emotional” at one point. But Brady said it was because Terrell demanded he fire all three of her employees. Terrell claimed Brady “repeatedly” called her “emotional“ when “she expressed an opinion with which Dr. Brady did not agree.”

The zoo also admitted Brady once described an internal conflict between Terrell and a colleague as “cat fighting.” Terrell said, though, Brady tempered the remarks by adding that “cat fight” wasn’t about gender because cats can be male or female.

However, the zoo attorney dismissed Terrell’s claims that Brady ever said, “there’s always some kind of drama going on that hen house,” in reference to the zoo’s marketing building. The zoo also denied Brady ever said (about women in the marketing department), ”you know how women are. I can’t control those hens.”

U.S. District Judge Jon P. McCalla ordered the case to be heard in a jury trial on Jan. 14, 2019. The trial is expected to last four days in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee Western Division.

A for personal responses to the suit, Terrell tweeted that the episode was one of her top three personal accomplishments of 2017.

Terrell later added #metoo to a January tweet including a Memphis Flyer story on the suit.

Whitehaven Park to Get $5M Revamp

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 11:34 AM

Rendering of potential improvements - BLUECROSS BLUESHIELD
  • BlueCross BlueShield
  • Rendering of potential improvements

A city park in Whitehaven will get a $5.4 million makeover as a part of a new BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee program providing healthy spaces in neighborhoods.

Under the BlueCross Healthy Place program, David Carnes Park could get amenities like a walking track, playground, and a fitness area, all totalling $4.5 million. The remaining $900,000 would be used for ongoing maintenance and upkeep of the park.

PlayCore, the national play and recreation company, will work with BlueCross to construct the space.
Rendering of potential improvements - BLUECROSS BLUESHIELD
  • BlueCross BlueShield
  • Rendering of potential improvements

BlueCross announced the project Monday during a community meeting in Whitehaven. It will be the first of many community meetings that are slated to take place during the planning phase of the project. At the meetings, members of the community will be able to give input on the what features they want in the park.

Kevin Woods, BlueCross president of the Memphis market said input from residents is “crucial” to the project.

“The space will be an asset to their community — an area where they can be active and form new connections,” Woods said. “It will truly be a hub of renewed civic activity and a jewel in the Memphis park system.”

The site was selected for the project because of a recent outpouring from citizens, expressing the need for more resources in the park.

David Carnes Park today
  • David Carnes Park today

Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said the BlueCross Healthy Place program shares one of the city’s top priorities of providing “healthy, inviting public spaces.”

“That’s why we’re so grateful for this partnership with the BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee Health Foundation, and we’re looking forward to enhancing this park for neighbors here in Whitehaven,” Strickland said.

Trolleys Return This Month

Posted By on Tue, Apr 17, 2018 at 11:33 AM

MATA CEO Gary Rosenfeld (left) and COO Alvin Pearson announce the return of the trolleys during a news conference. - MEMPHIS AREA TRANSIT AUTHORITY
  • Memphis Area Transit Authority
  • MATA CEO Gary Rosenfeld (left) and COO Alvin Pearson announce the return of the trolleys during a news conference.
Memphis' trolleys will return to Main Street on Monday, April 30.

Officials with the Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) announced the move in a news conference Monday.

"Thank you Memphis and visitors for your patience!" reads a post on the MATA Facebok page.

Customers can ride for free on the Main Street trolley line until May 14.

Here's a full statement about the return from MATA:

The Memphis Area Transit Authority (MATA) announced today the Main Street Trolley Line will be back in service for customers on Monday, April 30th operating from the William Hudson Transit Center (Main and A.W. Willis) to the Butler Station (Main and Butler).

MATA received approval last Friday from the Federal Transit Administration and the Tennessee Department of Transportation that revenue service can begin in two weeks.

The following is the tentative operating schedule:

• Initially, the rail line will operate with the following three trolley cars: 234, 453, and 540.

• From Sunday through Thursday, the Main Street Trolley line will operate with two trolley cars and run every 30 minutes.

• On Fridays and Saturdays, the Main Street Trolley line will operate with three cars and run every 20 minutes.

• Hours of operation: Monday-Friday: 6:45 a.m.-(midnight), Saturday: 8 a.m.-(midnight), and Sunday 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

• Customers can ride for free on the Main Street Trolley line rail cars until May 14.

The tentative operating schedule will continue until the refurbishments on (trolley cars) 455, 539, and 799 are completed next month. After the repairs are finished, additional rail testing will be conducted to ensure those trolley cars have met established and required safety standards.

Gary Rosenfeld, chief executive officer of MATA, says today’s announcement is a major accomplishment for the public transit authority and the City of Memphis.

“Almost four years ago the rail trolleys stopped running and now, we are proud to announce that the Main Street Trolley line will be back in service serving the Memphis community and visitors in just two weeks," Rosenfeld said. "We are proud that we have diligently and meticulously restored the trolley cars to be the safest in the nation."

Monday, April 16, 2018

'Cruel System': Jailed Journalist Describes Life in Detention

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 3:50 PM

  • Memphis Notacias
  • Manuel Duran
Manuel Duran misses his life before he was arrested and detained on April 3rd.

It's an obvious but poignant portion of a statement from the Memphis journalist who was arrested on that date.

While his charges were dismissed, Duran was taken from the Shelby County Jail by officers with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. He now awaits a hearing before an immigration judge and faces deportation back to El Salvador.

During a news conference here Monday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) said their attorneys were trying to get Duran released. During that news conference, a statement from Duran was read aloud.

In it, he describes his routines inside the detention facility in Louisiana, his frustrations, and more. He said he misses his old life as owner of and reporter for his newspaper, Memphis Noticias.

Having witnessed everything from within, Duran called it a "cruel system."

Below is his full statement (in English on top and in Spanish below):  

"I cannot thank you enough for the support I have received since the moment of my arrest and subsequent transfer and incarceration in Louisiana.

This episode in my life has not been easy, but I have taken it as an opportunity to learn first hand the drama and reality that our families are living when they are arrested by immigration and then deported.

Families like Jorge’s, who is in detention with me. He has been in jail for 3 months; he has three very young children, 4, 5, and 10. One of them has a heart problem. But Jorge will be deported as soon as his trip is allowed by his country’s consulate. He could not fight his case because he could not afford an immigration attorney.

Or Fernando’s, who is 64 years old and has three U.S. citizen children, but has been in detention for the past seven months and is now about to be deported back to his country, away from his family and everything he knows, after his attorney couldn’t win his case.

Once you’re inside the detention facility it is extremely hard to get the phone number of a private attorney and if you are lucky enough to find one, the attorney is costs thousands of dollars.

No one should be deprived of their freedoms just for wanting a better future for their children. This is a cruel system that criminalizes people who pose no danger to this country.

My greatest challenge will be to continue working for my people, no matter where I’m at.

I could say that my destiny lies now in the hands of an immigration judge in Atlanta. Someone I have never met and someone who does not know my story and I may never be granted the opportunity to tell my story. But my destiny lies in the hands of the judge of judges, and I’m willing to accept His decision.

Through this experience I have learned first-hand details about the treatment our immigrants receive before they are deported. How they keep the lights on day and night and you have to sleep with a towel over your eyes. How they make you lie in bed for 45 minutes, in what seems to be at random, after roll calling and you cannot use the phone or the bathroom during that time.

How they would not let you know your attorney is on the phone. How you get paid dimes for work and you are on your own if you have no one outside adding funds to your commissary. How the visitation hours and your recreation hours happen at the same time so you have to choose between seeing your family and getting some air.

How the phones in the visitation room do not work and you have to scream through the soundproof windows. I will keep taking notes about my experience and I will keep on collecting my cellmates’ stories while I’m here.

I am so fortunate that my family has the ability to travel to Jena, Louisiana to see me. Many families, families like Jose’s, cannot travel to see him because they cannot afford the trip. Many of my cellmates' families cannot come to Louisiana because they cannot pay for it, or are too afraid to make the trip, or cannot come inside the facility because they are undocumented themselves.
As for me, I miss my home. I miss everything I left behind. I miss my life before April 3, I miss being in touch with my people and reading their messages. It is extremely difficult being cut off from everyone back home, uninformed, and alone. I try to stay positive as much as I can, but it’s not easy being isolated, and sometimes I just fail.

Thank you all of you who have shown solidarity with my story. Nonprofits, the press, who have given me their support. Thanks to my family. Thanks to all the people who have not abandoned me in this test. Thank you for all your thoughts and prayers. And finally, thanks to the team of lawyers who work to free me from this prison.


Here it is again, in Spanish.

"No me alcanzan las palabras para agradecerles el apoyo que he recibido desde el momento de mi arresto y posterior traslado y encarcelamiento en Louisiana.

Este episodio de mi vida no ha sido fácil, pero lo he tomado como una oportunidad para conocer de primera mano el drama y la realidad que viven nuestras familias cuando son arrestadas por inmigración para luego ser deportadas.

Familias como la de Jorge, que está siendo detenido conmigo. El ha estado encarcelado por 3 meses, tiene tres hijos pequeños, 4, 5, y 10 y uno de ellos tiene un problema en el corazón. Pero Jorge va a ser deportado en cuanto el consulado de su país autorice el viaje. No pudo pelear su caso porque no puedo pagar por un abogado de inmigración.

O familias como la de Fernando, que tiene 64 años y tres hijos ciudadanos estadounidenses, pero ha estado encarcelado por los últimos 7 meses y ahora va a ser deportado de vuelta a su país, lejos de su familia y todo lo que conoce, porque su abogado no pudo ganar su caso.

Una vez en detención, es extremadamente difícil conseguir el numero de telefono de un abogado privado y si uno tiene suficiente suerte como para encontrar uno, el abogado vale miles de dólares. Creo que nadie debería ser privado de libertad por el simple hecho de querer un mejor futuro para sus hijos. Este es un sistema cruel que criminaliza a personas que no son un peligro para este país.

Mi mayor desafío será continuar trabajando por mi gente, sin importar donde me encuentre. Podría decir que mi destino está en las manos de un juez de inmigracion en Atlanta. Alguien a quien nunca he conocido, que no conoce mi historia y al que puede que nunca pueda presentarle mi historia. Pero mi destino está en las manos del juez de jueces, y estoy dispuesto a aceptar Su decisión.

En esta experiencia he conocido detalles de primera mano sobre el trato que reciben nuestros inmigrantes previo a ser deportados. Cómo mantienen las luces prendidas día y noche y tienes que dormir con una toalla sobre los ojos. Como hacen quedarte en cama por 45 minutos después de pasar lista en lo que parece ser al azar y no puedes usar el baño o hacer una llamada telefónica durante ese tiempo.

Como no te dejan saber que tu abogado está en el teléfono. Como te pagan centavos por trabajo y estás completamente solo si alguien de afuera no pone dinero en tu libro. Como el horario de visita y el horario recreativo suceden al mismo tiempo para que tengas que elegir entre ver a tu familia o tomar aire. Como los teléfonos en el cuarto de visita no funcionan y tienes que gritar a través de las ventanas a prueba de sonido.

Voy a seguir tomando notas sobre mi experiencia y voy a seguir coleccionando las historias de mis compañeros de celda mientras este aqui.

Soy tan afortunado de que mi familia pueda viajar a Jena, LA para verme. Muchas familias, familias como las de José, no pueden viajar a verlo porque no cuentan con los fondos para hacerlo.

Muchas de las familias de mis compañeros de celda no pueden venir a Louisiana porque no pueden pagar el viaje, tienen miedo de hacer el viaje, o simplemente no pueden entrar al edificio porque ellos también son indocumentados.

En lo que a mi respecta, extraño mi casa. Extraño todo lo que dejé. Extraño mi vida antes del 3 de Abril, extraño estar en contacto con todos, poder leer sus mensajes. Es extremadamente difícil estar alejado de todos en casa, desinformado, y solo. Trato demantener una actitud positiva tanto como puedo, no es fácil estar aislado, pero a veces no puedo.

Gracias a todos los que se han solidarizado con mi historia. A las organizaciones y a la prensa que me han brindado su apoyo. Gracias a mi familia. Gracias a las personas que han sido fundamentales y no me han abandonado durante esta prueba. Gracias por sus oraciones. Por último, gracias al equipo de abogados que trabajan para liberarme de esta prisión.


Group Petitions for Immediate Release of Jailed Journalist

Posted By on Mon, Apr 16, 2018 at 10:36 AM

  • Memphis Notacias
  • Manuel Duran
A petition filed last week in federal court argues for the release of Manuel Duran, the Hispanic journalist arrested at an immigration protest on April 3rd, who now faces deportation by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) announced Monday that it had filed the petition, which calls for the immediate release of Duran. The petition argues Duran’s arrest and detention “were an effort to suppress his reporting and they violate his First Amendment rights of freedom of speech and the press, his Fourth Amendment protection against unlawful arrest and detention, and his due process rights.”

“Manuel Duran is a journalist who was simply doing his job — reporting on the Memphis police and ICE — when he was unlawfully arrested and summarily sent to a remote ICE detention center in retaliation for him exposing the truth,” said Michelle Lapointe, acting deputy legal director for SPLC. “We are seeking Mr. Duran’s immediate release from detention. His unlawful arrest and unconstitutional detention only serve to silence free speech and press, and create more fear and mistrust of law enforcement in immigrant communities.”
Duran was a television reporter in El Salvador. He is now the owner of (and reporter for) Memphis Noticias, a Spanish-language newspaper here. He was live-streaming an immigration protest Downtown earlier this month when he was arrested.

The charges were dropped and the case was dismissed, but Duran was not released from the Shelby County Jail. ICE officials picked up Duran from the jail and was transported to the LaSalle Detention Center in Jena, Louisiana. where he awaits a hearing before an immigration judge.

“The Memphis Police Department made an unjustified arrest and the Shelby County Sheriff’s Office unjustly held Manuel,” said Mauricio Calvo, executive director of Latino Memphis. “These actions were done at the expense of local tax payers and at a time when trust is needed more than ever within the community.

“Working with federal agencies that use our local tax dollars to house immigrants for non-criminal violations for longer than necessary undermines our city and county's autonomy to make decisions that make sense for us.”
In a similar situation, the SPLC helped a Mississippi woman win release from ICE detention. The group stepped in when Daniela Vargas was arrested after speaking at a press conference in Jackson, Mississippi, the group said. She was released after the SPLC filed a petition that argued her right to freedom speech had been violated.

The National Association of Hispanic Journalists (NAHJ) also called for Duran's release last week.

“The detention of Manuel and attempt to suppress his reporting is an outrage to our public’s right to an independent and necessary press,” said Brandon Benavides, NAHJ president.

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Friday, April 13, 2018

Moratorium Sought on Juveniles in Adult Jails

Posted By on Fri, Apr 13, 2018 at 12:06 PM

  • Shelby County Sheriff's Office
  • Winton

Advocates will ask the Shelby County Board of Commissioners next week to set a moratorium on the transfer of juveniles to adult jails.

The request follows the legal battle involving Teriyona Winton, the 16-year-old girl being held in isolation at Nashville’s Tennessee Prison for Women. Winton was charged as an adult for the 2017 murder of 17-year-old Deago Brown in Binghampton.

Winton’s case was transferred to adult court by Juvenile Court Judge Dan Michael, who also transferred the girl to the Shelby County Jail. She was then sent on to two other adult holds.

When juveniles are sent to adult facilities, they must be kept separate from the adult population. Many times this means children are held in isolation, as Winton has been.

Winton’s lawyer, Josh Spickler, and other advocates will ask commissioners Monday to stop such transfers in Shelby County.

“Tennessee law allows children to be kept in juvenile facilities while awaiting trial as adults,” said Spickler, who is also executive director of Just City, a nonprofit advocating for criminal justice reform and the right to counsel. “It is the simplest and most cost-effective way to ensure that children receive age-appropriate services, are kept out of solitary confinement, and avoid the high risk of abuse they face in adult facilities.”
The number of youths held in adult facilities fell 48.5 percent from 2005 to 2015, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. Nine states and the District of Columbia have passed laws in the past three years to get children out of adult jails and prisons, according to a report from the Campaign for Youth Justice (CYJ).

”That is no coincidence or mistake,” said Marcy Mistrett, chief executive officer of the CYJ. “We are seeing legislators, system stakeholders, and law enforcement across the country starting to recognize that adult jails and prisons are no place for children.”

Similar local legislation has recently been passed in New Orleans and in Multanomah County (Portland, Ore.).

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