Not long ago, Mayor Jim Strickland and MPD Deputy Director Mike Ryall asked for Manuel’s help. They wanted to convey a message to the Memphis Latinx community that they were safe; that the Memphis Police Department does not collaborate with I.C.E. police. The MPD wanted the Latinx community to believe that they had their backs.
Manuel was objective in his reporting, and he tried to give the MPD the benefit of the doubt. He conveyed their message, but stories kept emerging that contradicted their claims, and as a journalist, it was Manuel’s job to verify these stories and report them to his community.
Manuel sincerely loves his community. One of his highest priorities is to dispel rumors and prevent panic, but at the same time make sure that his community knows the facts. He does not want to see people living in fear because of false information, but he also doesn’t want anyone in danger because they had no information at all.
On April 3, Manuel was reporting on a peaceful demonstration held by several community organizations, related to the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Manuel was wearing his bright yellow press identification. He and the pool of journalists he was with were following police orders to step back when one of the officers pointed at Manuel and said “Get him guys”.
Manuel was singled out from the other journalists and arrested. He was charged with disorderly conduct and obstructing traffic, but none of the reporters he was with were arrested, only Manuel. Manuel’s bond was paid immediately, but when friends and family arrived to pick him up, jail employees said that he was on a 48 hour “I.C.E. Hold”, and he would not be released. When the Shelby County Sheriff was confronted about this, he denied it, repeating the claim that local law enforcement does not collaborate with I.C.E. police. So his family contacted the jail a second time, and were told once again that Manuel was on a 48 hour I.C.E. hold.
Finally, the Judge dismissed the case and all charges were dropped but I.C.E. police were inside the jail where they took Manuel into custody. This is the same jail run by the Shelby County Sheriff ‘s department that claims not to participate in I.C.E. Operations. Even I.C.E. police broke normal protocols when they bypassed the local US Immigration and Customs Enforcement field office and took Manuel straight to the La Salle Detention Facility in Jena Louisiana.

Manuel’s Release

Manuel has been held for almost 3 months now. After a long battle, the immigration board of appeals issued a stay of departure, which allows Manuel to remain in the United States while he waits on a judge to review his case. This could take several months.

Meanwhile, immigration officials have the option to release Manuel while he awaits the judge’s decision. Since Manuel has lead a stable life, and is not a threat to anyone, we are petitioning to ask immigration officials to release him so that he can be with his family, and continue serving his community as a Journalist while he awaits the next milestone in his case.

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