My name is Tracy Love.
I am here to talk about a very close friend and member of my my family, Manuel Duran (Please sign the petition)
Manuel is a journalist from El Salvador who has served our city for over a decade as the only Spanish-speaking journalist to report consistently on issues directly related to the Memphis Latinx community like crime, immigration, and city government.
Because of his influence, Manuel was called upon by city leaders and other news organizations to help them connect with the Latinx community here in Memphis. Not long ago, our Mayor and the Deputy Director of the Memphis Police Department 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.
But stories kept emerging that contradicted that claim and when Manuel’s reporting didn’t always reflect favorably on the Memphis Police Department, his influence was no longer seen as an asset by city leaders, and he became expendable.
On April 3, Manuel was reporting on a peaceful demonstration related to the 50th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. He 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.
All charges were later dropped and the case was dismissed, but Manuel ended up I.C.E. custody along with many other men, women, and children from right here in Memphis. Manuel was recently granted a stay of departure which means that his deportation is on hold until a judge decides to hear his case, which could be months away.
In the meantime, immigration authorities 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 for Manuel’s release 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. We have that petition here today, so we are asking for your help.
If we can gather enough signatures to show the level of support that Manuel has in the community, there is a good chance the decision makers will grant him a conditional release. Your support will help us set a precedent that could help other immigrant families in the future.
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