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A Guest Post from Rhodes student & MSPJC Intern, Schaeffer Mallory:
The anonymous social media platform, Yik Yak, hit Rhodes campus at the beginning of the fall semester. Since its introduction on campus, many posts have been vehemently misogynistic and homophobic. Then, in late October, there began to appear vitriolic, racist comments stating thing such as “All Black Leave Campus” and “Black should be out on leashes like moms use on little kids.” In the following weeks, there emerged substantial energy and action across campus to address both the injustices done on Yik Yak and the broader, systemic sources of oppression on campus. This energy eventually coalesced into over 90 students - representing a number of racial, gender, and cultural backgrounds and coming from an equally diverse group of student organizations – coming together during a BSA Townhall meeting to collectively produce a comprehensive and intersectional list of actionable short- and long-term demands for the administration As such, a campus-wide coalition has been built to take ownership of this list of demands, to present it to the administration, and to catalyze the long and arduous work of tackling all forms of oppression on this campus.
This group is called Rhodes United (RU) and on Friday, Nov. 21 at 12:30pm we are calling for a campus-wide walkout on oppression to take place at Evergreen Church (613 University St). We invite all community members to attend, as this is an issue not confined to the Rhodes Campus and, moreover, Rhodes should be held accountable by the city that houses and fosters it.
Check out recent media coverage on the issue by clicking here.
Memphis United Launches Legal Clinics For Restoration of Felony Rights And To Confront Legal Fraud Against The Immigrant Community.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: On Thursday, November 13th at 12 noon, at 3573 Southern, the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center and coalition of local grassroots and nonprofit organizations will held a press conference to announce the kickoff of two exciting new partnerships that will positively impact the Memphis criminal justice system.
This coalition effort, known as Memphis United, was originally founded in 2013 in response to the Ku Klux Klan’s last visit to Memphis. This past spring, Memphis United was instrumental in successfully pushing the City to release a new MPD policy outlining the rights of individuals to film officers in the line of duty, and successfully led the charge for the resurrection of the deactivated Civilian Law Enforcement Review Board. In June of 2014, the Memphis City Council voted to appoint new members to the vacant board to provide greater community oversight and accountability in cases of misconduct by Memphis police officers. The group now seeks to broaden its efforts with the announcement of two new community partnerships around the issues of felony disenfranchisement as well as accountability for those who prey on the immigrant community.
The first of these is the Immigrant Rights Project funded in part by the GIVE 365 program of the Community Foundation of Greater Memphis. The Immigrant Rights Project partners the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center with Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition, and Memphis Immigration Advocates to provide the local immigrant community with a series of monthly Know Your Rights trainings as well as connecting attendees to proper and ethical legal aid services for immigration assistance. Immigrant Right Project partners also seek to raise public awareness and pursue prosecution of fraudulent immigration consultants or Notarios, who prey on the immigrant community by masquerading as immigration attorneys. “These con artists bleed immigrant families dry claiming to offer legal immigration assistance to the community, when in fact they are not lawyers at all. Their actions most often result in deportation proceedings and families being separated. They will be held accountable to the fullest extent.” Says Iris Mercado with the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition.
Memphis United is also joining forces with the Shelby County Public Defenders Office,Memphis Area Legal Services and the Memphis Bar Association to continue the work of restoration of citizenship legal clinics for people with Felonies who have served their conviction sentences.
In addition, Mid-South Peace and Justice Center will publish a Know Your Rights Resource Guide. This bilingual booklet will include detailed information outlining individual’s rights when interacting with law enforcement, and Renters Rights as well. This guide will include a section geared specifically toward undocumented immigrants which explains Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) policies. The guide will also provide the public with an extensive list of legal contacts and resources. Over 10,000 copies will be distributed free of charge to the general public via Know Your Rights workshops offered across the city in English or in Spanish in 2015.Along with these programs, Memphis United has been working with coalition partners to develop a Community Action Plan for comprehensive criminal justice reform that includes a wide breadth of justice concerns that impact Memphis and Shelby County. The Community Action Plan will address issues such as U-Visas to protect undocumented immigrants who report crimes like domestic violence, resolving the massive rape-kit backlog, the criminalization of pregnancy, militarization of police forces, civil asset forfeiture, youth criminalization, and sensitivity training for MPD officers that focuses on disability rights, LGBT issues, and homelessness.
Sunday, Nov. 16th :: Cooperative Memphis Potluck
Wednesday, Nov. 19th :: Memphis United General Meeting
6pm at the MSPJC offices at 3573 Southern Ave.
Memphis United General Meetings happen on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month. For more info, contact Paul@midsouthpeace.org
Thursday, Nov. 20th :: Facilitation Skills Training
This workshop will focus on practicing basic facilitation skills to peacefully resolve disruptions in a meeting. This workshop is for organizers, activists, community leaders, teachers, students and anyone who wants to practice their communication skills.
Click here for more info and to register!
Thursday, Dec. 18th :: MSPJC Holiday Party!
Join us 6pm - 9pm at our offices at 3575 Southern Ave for a potluck and holiday cheer!
Please join us as we welcome H.O.P.E.'s new full-time organizing coordinator, Tamara Hendrix.
Tamara accepted a position to work with H.O.P.E. through the Americorps VISTA program, is the second elected Vice President of H.O.P.E., and formerly served as the organization's secretary. She is also a member of the H.O.P.E. Women's Caucus and Streetwise INK.
Tamara has been a strong advocate for all people experiencing homelessness and poverty and will bring that same dedication to her work as she joins the staff of MSPJC.
MSPJC Organizer, Paul Garner, sat down with Tamara for a Q&A:
PG: Tell me about yourself.
TH: I’m from North Memphis originally, but I’ve lived in different parts of town throughout my life. I grew up in kind of a blended family. I lived with my grandparents-there were 8 of us, three kids and five adults in a 3 bedroom house. My grandmother was a custodian for the board of education. My aunt was a teacher. I had an uncle who was a musician, and another uncle who was a delivery driver. My mom worked on and off, but mostly stayed home to take care of the kids.
PG: Do you have kids now?
TH: I have a son who is eighteen, and a senior this year at Memphis Business Academy.
PG: Tell me about your writing.
TH: I mainly write short stories. My work was recently published in a collection called, ‘Writing our Way Home: A Group Journey Out of Homelessness.’ I hope one day to pen a children's book. That’s always been a dream of mine.
PG: Other hobbies/interests?
TH: Reading! I love to read.
PG: Who are your mentors/ Who inspires you?
TH: Miss June Averyt, the Director at Outreach Housing and Community and Ellen Prewitt, who facilitates the Door of Hope writing group that I am a member of. ...and You, Paul! (laughs)
PG: Why did you become a member of HOPE?
TH: I like the fact that HOPE is an organization that is focused on helping the homeless. I became a member to learn more ways I could help end homelessness.
PG: What lead you to run for Vice President of HOPE?
TH: I wanted to deepen my commitment to the organization. I felt like it would allow me to connect with more people in the community who had information and resources to help end homelessness.
PG: Thinking about your work with HOPE, what is your proudest accomplishment as a member?
TH: Being able to assist in promoting and serving at events like Project Homeless Connect. As someone whose been on the other side of homelessness, I know what its like. It’s been nice to be able to pay it forward.
PG: What do you want people to know about homelessness?
TH: It can happen to anyone. It can be a very difficult experience, but you can make through.
PG: If you could get our elected leaders in Memphis/Shelby County to make one commitment to ending homelessness, what would it be?
TH: Funding for emergency shelter for women. There is a huge gap in those services. There are only 25 beds in Memphis for women without children. So, that’s something we need more of immediately.
PG: What do you hope to accomplish in your first year as an organizing coordinator for HOPE?
TH: I want to get more people off the streets and into permanent housing and win more victories for people who are underprivileged. I want to help empower our members to get more involved in HOPE projects, and help develop new leaders to prepare HOPE for it’s next phase as an organization.
PG: How would you describe your vision of a better world, or a better Memphis?
TH: There would be NO homelessness. Our elected officials would care about the lives of those they are put in office to to service. The wealth would be more equally distributed, and there would be good jobs for everyone, so crime would go down.
PG: What else do you want people to know as you move into your new position?
TH: I’m here to learn, and I may make some mistakes, but I’m dedicated to the cause of ending homelessness, and I’m here for the long haul!
Tomorrow (Nov. 4th, 2014) is Election Day in Shelby County!
There are four important constitutional amendments on the ballot in Tennessee. The Mid-South Peace & Justice Center supports the Vote No on Amendment 1 and Vote No on Amendment 3 campaigns.
Why VOTE NO on Amendment 1?
Amendment 1 reads:
"Nothing in this Constitution secures or protects a right to abortion or requires the funding of an abortion. The people retain the right through their elected state representatives and state senators to enact, amend, or repeal statutes regarding abortion, including, but not limited to, circumstances of pregnancy resulting from rape or incest or when necessary to save the life of the mother."
If passed, the amendment would have no immediate effect on abortion in Tennessee. However, lawmakers would have more ability in the future to pass restrictions that the state Supreme Court has previously ruled were unconstitutional. A “yes” vote would give lawmakers this ability. A “no” vote would leave the state constitution unchanged.
Part of what makes Amendment 1 so dangerous is that the language points out that we are handing over ALL decision making power to the government, WITHOUT exceptions for these terrible circumstances. You don’t have to be pro-choice to agree that women and families need the ability to make decisions themselves in tragic moments such as rape, incest or life-threatening disease.
More than 100 Clergy Leaders in Tennessee, and over 30 civil rights leaders in Memphis OPPOSE AMENDMENT ONE. To read more about the Vote No on 1 campaign, visit their website here.
Why VOTE NO on Amendment 3?
Amendment 3 will lead to a double-digit sales tax on food, clothing and other basic needs; local property tax hikes and possibly even a statewide property tax; and damaging cuts to education, environmental protection, child services, transportation, and more.
In a legal sense, Amendment 3 would forever prohibit creation of a state income tax, while ensuring that policymakers can still raise other taxes like the sales tax, property tax, and user fees. In doing so, it virtually guarantees that the next budget shortfall be met with a double-digit sales tax on food and other basic needs, most likely in combination with damaging budget cuts. For more information on the Vote No on 3 campaign, visit their website here.
Amendment 2 would empower the Governor to appoint judges to the State Supreme Court, or any other state court, subject to confirmation by the state legislature. The appointed judge would serve a term of 8 years, and could thereafter serve via a retention election by voters. The Staff of the MSPJC does not have a position on this amendment.
Amendment 4 would allow veteran organizations (classified as 501(c)(19) organizations) to hold lottery-style annual fundraisers, per approval by the state legislature. The Staff of the MSPJC supports the passage of this amendment.
Who should attend this workshop?
Organizers, activists, community leaders, teachers, students and anyone who wants to practice their meeting interventions skills.
G.O.T. Power, a Mid-South Peace and Justice Center’s training program, is committed to building our community's capacity through building skills in grassroots organizing, providing support to people doing community work and offering anti-oppression and liberation education.