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The Tennessee Tribune

Metro Police Monitoring Social Media

THE TENNESSEE TRIBUNE — Nashville Police say they monitor social media for public safety.

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By Clint Confehr

NASHVILLE, TN — As Chattanooga activists recently allege police there use bogus Facebook identities, Nashville Police say they monitor social media for public safety.

Nevertheless, a Metro Police spokeswoman last week could not confirm or deny that metro police use pseudonyms as alleged in Chattanooga and reported by the Times Free Press.

In Memphis, federal Judge Jon McCalla ruled Memphis police must stop spying on politically active people and train officers to stop treating them like criminals. McCalla’s Oct. 26 order reenforces a 1978 consent decree against sharing information with other law enforcement agencies unless it was gathered during a verified criminal investigation.

Nashville police spokesperson Kris Mumford was asked Dec. 27 if police here use fake profiles to spy on the Internet, as the Chattanooga newspaper reported is alleged there.

“Social media monitoring in 2018 is a part of this police department’s commitment to public safety for all,” Mumford replied, reading the department’s statement. “We do not discuss specifics.”

She emphasized “monitoring” for “public safety,” adding, “It’s not difficult to go onto Facebook and find out information.”

The Times Free Press quotes Isaiah Moore, 27, as concluding “nobody but the police” could have mentioned an 11-year-old charge he faced as a juvenile. When found innocent, he witnessed his juvenile record shredded by a juvenile court judge, the newspaper reports.

The reference to a legally contradicted juvenile record was by an on-line persona, “Chante Raleigh,” the Chattanooga paper reported. Chattanooga Police “would not confirm or deny whether an officer created” that on-line persona, the Times Free Press states, adding that Facebook corporate policy opposes such misrepresentation. Moore’s police record was mentioned by “Raleigh” in what’s seen as an attempt to discredit police critics.

Nashville Police “have been using social media monitoring since the advent of social media,” Mumford said. The practice will continue in 2019.

As reported last fall by The Tennessee Tribune, the American Civil Liberties Union sued Memphis on Feb 22, 2017 to curb that city’s police return to unconstitutional practices such as filming protestors at political and civil rights rallies. That included people with non-profit organizations; Black Lives Matter associates; political activists and organizers; and people with no criminal record. MPD had a Facebook account to: look like community activists; find targets and events; know innocent citizens’ beliefs; and use Facebook Messenger as a tool to snoop on Americans.

Memphis police records in this decade “functioned like the files” created by the FBI during the 1960s and ’70s, ACLU attorney Mandy Strickland Floyd said in October during a program on the Vanderbilt University campus. Memphis Police information was shared during 2016 with the military, Justice Department, Tennessee Homeland Security, Shelby County schools, and businesses. Plainclothes officers monitored and photographed people at churches, food festivals, and a tree planting to remember a teenager killed by police.

Police use of body cameras might be allowed in Memphis under the new order but could not be used to compile dossiers on people who are exercising their Free Speech rights, the Tribune reported in October.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessee Tribune.

#NNPA BlackPress

MTA Board Votes to Raise Fares and Cut Service

THE TENNESSEE TRIBUNE — Because of an $8.7 million budget shortfall, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is raising fares and cutting 8 bus routes. Regular bus fare will increase from $1.70 to $2.  WeGo’s door to door paratransit service will increase from $3.40 to $3.70 per trip. The fare increases will go into effect August 2. Route changes will occur in late September.

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Rhonda Clark, a frequent user of WeGo’s on-demand service, reading the meeting agenda and studying the proposed changes MTA board approved last week.

By Peter White

NASHVILLE, TN — Because of an $8.7 million budget shortfall, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA) is raising fares and cutting 8 bus routes. Regular bus fare will increase from $1.70 to $2.  WeGo’s door to door paratransit service will increase from $3.40 to $3.70 per trip. The fare increases will go into effect August 2. Route changes will occur in late September.

Magnetic stripe change and fare cards will be in use until December 2020. WeGo will then switch to stored value fare cards which are like EBT debit cards. So-called smart media will automatically provide a two-hour transfer. Buses will still accept cash but no longer sell tickets in order to speed up boarding times.

The bottom line is that bus riders will pay more for less service. At a board meeting last week, the MTA directors decided to cut its two free downtown circular routes, and instead will ferry commuters from the Music City Star train station to a few downtown stops. The part of Route 29 which goes down Jefferson Street to TSU will be retained but cost a normal fare.

The increased fares will bring in an extra $300,000 and that will keep Sunday service on the 25 Midtown route. It will also allow expanded service on Routes 8 and 17 on 8th Avenue South. Other changes are listed at WeGo’s website: nashvillemta.org.

Music City Riders (MCR), a group of concerned Metro bus riders, are frustrated with the status quo and want more bus routes and want them to run more frequently and operate longer. They cite the need for more crosswalks and more sheltered bus stops. 

“I think it’s going to be a transit crisis. A lot of people have limited funds who are depending on the buses to get to work or hospitals,” said Kutonia Smith, MCR spokesperson.

About 100 Music City Riders rallied in front of the central bus terminal on Tuesday, June 18, and marched to City Hall in support of a substitute budget that would have raised teachers’ wages, continued certain bus routes, and extended hours of operation. The city council failed to pass that budget by one vote forcing the cutbacks to Metro’s bus service.

“We need a new mayor who’s for the Nashville workers,” Smith said. “We don’t feel like the ones who are here are for the people so they need to be replaced. They’re not for the Nashvillians who live here. They’re just for the tourists,” she said. 

“The riders union is consistently and regularly raising hell about these things, as they should. And they have been focused where they should be focused—on the council and the Mayor,” said Walter Searcy. Searcy is a MTA board member and chairs MTA’s operations and finance committee.

“The access ride community is really is bus dependent. They come out to these meetings. You can expect that they will be well-represented,” Searcy said. 

MTA’s paratransit service uses smaller buses for people with disabilities and the elderly who are picked up from their homes. About 100 people attended the MTA board meeting on Thursday, June 27 at Music City Center. About 25 bus riders took three minutes at the microphone to address the five-member MTA board.

Rhonda Clark is glad the on-demand service won’t be cancelled. “You can‘t go anywhere in this town for $2. You can’t go anywhere in this town for $4. You can sit in traffic and waste $2 in gas,” Clark said. Clark is okay with paying a bit more to get where she wants to go and back again when she wants to return. She has lived in Nashville for 23 years.

“Nashville is one three cities out of the 40 largest cities in the country that does not have a dedicated funding stream for mass transit,” Searcy said. That means MTA does a yearly dance adjusting fares and services, as well as its workforce, from its piece of Metro’s operating budget.

“Future growth requires predictable and reliable funding to sustain the services we provide to our communities. This year’s budget only further serves to highlight the need for a long-term, dedicated funding source for transit, one that relieves pressure on a Metro General Fund budget crucial to so many community priorities,” said Steve Bland, WeGo Public Transit CEO. 

This article originally appeared in The Tennessee Tribune

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Community

Human Rights Commission Honors Tribune Publisher

THE TENNESSEE TRIBUNE — This award is named in honor of Jocelyn D. Wurzburg of Memphis who has a long history of volunteer civil rights accomplishments, advocating for equity, equality and non-discrimination. She served on the Tennessee Human Rights Board of Commissioners on two occasions— in 1971 and again in 2007. During that time, she began extensive work and research to write the model for the Tennessee Human Rights Act, which she continued to promote after her first term.  In 1978 her actions were responsible for transforming the Tennessee Human Rights Commission from an advisory to an enforcement organization. The very first Wurzburg Award was presented to Jocelyn for her continued efforts in civil rights and women’s rights.

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By The Tennessee Tribune

Mrs. Rosetta Miller Perry, a long-time Civil Rights activist has been named the recipient of the 2019 Tennessee Human Rights Commission’s Jocelyn D. Wurzburg Civil Rights Legacy Award.  The award was presented, Friday, July 19, 2019 at 11:30 a.m. at the Supreme Court Chamber of the Tennessee Capitol.

This award is named in honor of Jocelyn D. Wurzburg of Memphis who has a long history of volunteer civil rights accomplishments, advocating for equity, equality and non-discrimination. She served on the Tennessee Human Rights Board of Commissioners on two occasions— in 1971 and again in 2007. During that time, she began extensive work and research to write the model for the Tennessee Human Rights Act, which she continued to promote after her first term.  In 1978 her actions were responsible for transforming the Tennessee Human Rights Commission from an advisory to an enforcement organization. The very first Wurzburg Award was presented to Jocelyn for her continued efforts in civil rights and women’s rights.

The Jocelyn D. Wurzburg Civil Rights Legacy Award is given to individuals who have demonstrated long term advocacy to human rights. Beverly Watts, Executive Director of the Tennessee Human Rights Commission said, “Award recipients are selected because his or her life’s work embodies the ideals and principles of inclusion, equity, equality, access and diversity and Mrs. Rosetta Miller Perry exemplifies those characteristics. Mrs. Miller Perry stated that she had worked with  Ms. Wurzburg when she was a member of the Tennessee State Advisory Committee to the United States Commission on Civil Rights and she was a field investigator.  She said Ms. Wurzburgh was always there in Memphis working to better relations within the community and state then and now and she is deeply humble to receive this award from a person she has always for more than 50 years.   The Tennessee Human Rights Commission Board of Commissioners selected Mrs. Perry as a recipient of this award because of her dedication and leadership in cultivating more inclusive and equitable communities,” Watts added.

The Board of Commissioners will hold its Commission meeting to discuss the goals of the Commission for the 2020 fiscal year on that day, Friday, July 19, 2019, and to publicly recognize Mrs. Perry and her outstanding work. 

Mrs. Perry, is the founder and publisher of the Tennessee Tribune newspaper, which has operated for more than 25 years.  Additionally, she served a Field Coordinator of the Equal Opportunity Commission and worked in pivotal roles in Nashville and Memphis during the 1960’s Civil Rights era.  Her work has been chronicled in various publications, including the book, A Spy in Canaan: How the FBI Used a Famous Photographer to Infiltrate the Civil Rights Movement by Marc Perrusquia.

For more information, contact Veronica McGraw at 615.253.1608 at the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessee Tribune

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Op-Ed

OP-ED: “It City” Still Has a Lot of Hate to Cleanse

THE TENNESSEE TRIBUNE — For over 25 years the Tennessee Tribune has proudly chronicled the good things happening in North Nashville and across our city, region and state. Over that time we’ve not ignored or tried to pretend that ugly, vile things weren’t also occurring, and when necessary we stood up and identified them. But we’ve always spent a lot more time emphasizing the good things, celebrating the accomplishments, and noting the firsts and breakthroughs than we have reporting about the negative and backward elements that remain in our midst.

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By Rosetta Miller Perry

For over 25 years the Tennessee Tribune has proudly chronicled the good things happening in North Nashville and across our city, region and state. Over that time we’ve not ignored or tried to pretend that ugly, vile things weren’t also occurring, and when necessary we stood up and identified them. But we’ve always spent a lot more time emphasizing the good things, celebrating the accomplishments, and noting the firsts and breakthroughs than we have reporting about the negative and backward elements that remain in our midst.

But sometimes we have to stand up and say there are certain things that must be eradicated and eliminated if Nashville is ever going to truly be the kind of place that deserves to be branded the “It City.” It has be the kind of place where people both in and out of power publicly let it be known certain views are not welcome in our midst, and that any and all forms of bigotry and hatred will not be tolerated. Whatever you may think as a private citizen is your business, but if you espouse hatred, racism, sexism, any form of religious bigotry or homophobia, you speak for yourself, and do not represent the Nashville that we want to see and celebrate.

Some of the reaction last week to Zulfat Suara’s candidacy for Metro Council should be an embarrassment to any and all Nashville citizens who claim they believe in human dignity, equal justice and Civil Rights. The fact that a Nigerian woman who also happens to be a Muslim has decided to run for public office is apparently too much for the bigots, racists, and just plain morons to handle. Never mind she has the perfect legal right to run for public office,. or that she’s entitled to do so as a citizen of this city. The bigots are out in force, with comments like “You will never, ever be on Metro Nashville Council. I am on a personal mission to stop it and make sure it does not happen. I will make sure of it.  I’ve got your picture. I’ve got your face. and everyone is going to know to not vote for you.”

Or this piece of brilliant advocacy from another enlightened soul who says “Just like Christian’s (sic) in your home country, Muslims are not welcome here.” Suara’s home nation of Nigeria has more Christians than any other African nation, but of course this idiot either doesn’t know or doesn’t care about that fact. Suara is also dealing with people stealing or damaging her campaign signs. While she’s alerted law enforcement about these threats, she’s  going to continue her campaign, and the Tennessee Tribune says to her “don’t let the racists and bigots drive you out.”

We agree with her when she says “I hope people will stand up and say this is not our Nashville.” Yes, everyone including her opponents and people of good will across the city irregardless of race, faith, gender or sexual orientation should stand up and say there’s no place in our city for the kind of garbage that has surfaced online, and especially on the websites and walls of bigots who thrive on stirring up hate and negativity, especially in places like Twitter where they can hide behind phony names and fake identities.

Stephanie Teatro, who co-directs the Tennessee Immigrant and Refugee Rights Coalition and its political arm — TIRRC Votes, which recently endorsed Suara — said in a Nashville Scene article that Muslims, immigrants and Black women face a backlash when they decide to step up and run for public office. “Zulfat happens to be all three,” she said. So she wasn’t surprised that Suara is facing major harassment as she seeks one of five at-large Metro Council seats.  “The only way we’re going to get to the other side of this political moment where people feel emboldened to be so hateful is to have effective and capable leaders like Zulfat,” Teatro added. “The most powerful rebuke to any of these xenophobic activists is for her to win a countywide election.”

The Tribune commends Suara for trying to remain positive. “For every bad comment, there’s 1,000 positive comments,: she has said. “For every nasty encounter — someone looking at me funny — there’s 100 more that have embraced me.” “I truly want to give back to this city, and I believe I have the means to do that. Nashville has been very welcoming. I hope that those that have never met me will not let a few people make them unwelcoming. I hope people will stand up and say, ‘This is not our Nashville.’ ”

We stand solidly behind her, and defend her right to run for Metro Council, and we also ask where is the public condemnation of these actions by those in power? Silence by implication is agreement, and while we don’t think the vast majority of people in power in Nashville back this type of vicious hatred, there should be unanimous and widespread response to it. Don’t let the voices of hatred and bigotry seem to be consensus by not responding. You don’t have to be a supporter of Suara to condemn the ignorant and bigoted response she’s gotten from that segment of the population that hates anyone who isn’t white, male, and fits their definition of an American. 

The Tribune doesn’t think those comments represent the Nashville we know and love. But they represent voices in Nashville we’ve been battling against throughout our existence. These are people who repeatedly try to  marginalize the voices of women, of Blacks and other people of color as well as the poor. They want to keep things the way they were centuries ago. These people know that in 2019 their views aren’t considered tolerable, so they mostly keep them to themselves, at least until something or someone comes along that brings them out of the sewers where they normally reside. This time it’s the Metro Council candidacy of Zulfat Suara. Tomorrow it may be something else.

But we say enough, and we also say let everyone who’s sick of this kind of bigoted nonsense speak out against it, and let these people know they not only don’t run anything, but they can’t decide who can run for political office based on their bigoted reading of the law. It’s just a matter of simple justice and fairness. Best wishes to Zulfat Suara, and be strong. There are lots of good people out here behind you.

This article originally appeared in The Tennessee Tribune.

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