Tag Archives: violence

Group seeks to memorialize 21 lynchings in Shelby County

A church-based Memphis group is working to locate and memorialize the site of every post-Civil War lynching in Shelby County, reports the Commercial Appeal.

The group, which is calling itself “Responding to Racism,” is led by three retirees, all white and all members of First Congregational Church. Rev. Randall Mullins, a retired United Church of Christ minister, sent an email to more than a dozen local clergy on Friday asking them to join the effort and recruit others.

“Holocaust survivor and author Elie Wiesel wrote, ‘Without memory there is no culture. Without memory there would be no civilization, no society, no future,'” Mullins said in his email.
“May we be bold and faithful to all the memory that keeps us human.”

The group includes retired professor Tom Carlson and retired oceanographer George Grider. Along with Mullins, they were inspired by the Alabama-based Equal Justice Initiative’s effort to identify the location of every lynching in the South from 1877-1950.

…Earlier this year, EJI released the results of five years of research that found 3,959 victims of “racial terror lynchings” in 12 Southern states…. That includes 21 lynchings in Shelby County, the most in Tennessee and tied for 16th most in the South. Obion County in West Tennessee had 17. DeSoto County in Mississippi had 16.

Of the more than 200 historical markers in Shelby County, only one commemorates a lynching.

The “People’s Grocery” sign at the corner of Mississippi Boulevard and Walker commemorates the 1892 lynchings of store owners Thomas Moss, Calvin McDowell and Will Stewart.

“The lynching prompted Ida B. Wells, editor of the Memphis Free Speech, to begin an international anti-lynching campaign,” the sign notes. Those lynchings also are mentioned in a Beale Street marker honoring Wells.

TBI Report on Domestic Violence Criticized for Omissions

The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation released a report on family violence Wednesday and immediately drew fire from a domestic violence group astounded that the report did not address unmarried and same-sex couples, according to The Tennessean.
The report analyzed more than 40,000 incidents of domestic violence involving spouses, children, grandparents or extended family in 2012. The report found that simple assaults accounted for two out of every three domestic violence incidents, women were twice as likely be victims and that nearly two out of every 10 incidents involved drugs or alcohol.
But the report omitted another 40,000 or so incidents involving unmarried and same-sex couples, which led a top victims’ advocate to question the report’s worth.
“It’s crazy. I don’t know why they’d do that. It’s as serious for victims who are not married as it is for those who are. I’m not sure that report will be that useful,” said Kathy Walsh, executive director of the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence. “Families include couples who live together and have children, it includes same-sex couples who live together.”
…”You’re only looking at half of the problem,” she said.
The TBI responded by saying they plan to issue more domestic violence reports in the future, but that non-familial cases were not a focus on their initial report.

Bill Lets Mental Health Professionals Report Violence Prone People

The state Senate approved a bill Thursday that would require mental health professionals to report potential threats to law enforcement, reports The Tennessean. Supporters say the move could head off mass shootings.
Senate Bill 789 passed unanimously as lawmakers found little reason to debate a measure that tightens reporting requirements for mental health workers and the courts. The bill is part of a push — backed by gun-rights proponents and gun-control advocates alike — to change mental health laws in response to the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Conn., in December.
“Mass violence of any sort is a tragic occurrence. But the worst tragedy results when the state overreacts to a mass shooting by restricting the Second Amendment rights of the law-abiding,” Lt. Gov. Ron Ramsey said in a prepared statement praising the measure. “This bill focuses not on inanimate objects but on the very real issue of mental health. …
“By focusing on the mentally ill, we will focus on those who should not have weapons while leaving the law-abiding gun owner free to exercise his God-given constitutional right.”
The Tennessee Psychological Association supports the bill. Mark Greene, a lobbyist for the group, said it clarifies that when clients make threats to harm or kill, the police must be told, in addition to potential victims.

AP: Guns in Parking Lots Have Led to Gun Violence

By Eric Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn. — It was after 2 a.m. when David Aller was thrown out of the Klub Cirok Nightclub & VIP Lounge for fighting. That’s when police say the 26-year-old man retrieved a loaded handgun from his car in the club parking lot and returned to threaten patrons.
Aller, who was charged with aggravated assault for the Nov. 11 incident, was also a handgun carry permit holder.
Ever since lawmakers opened serious consideration of a bill to allow permit holders to store firearms in their vehicles — no matter where they are parked — backers have maintained security won’t be threatened because gun permit holders are law-abiding citizens and unlikely to commit crimes.
Public records reviewed by AP show, however, that some incidents, like the one at Klub Cirok, have the potential to become violent when guns are drawn by permit holders in parking lots. And club promoter Joe Savage said the bill is misguided.
“If it’s at the Waffle House it’s one thing, but if it’s Cirok’s it’s another,” Savage told AP in the club’s parking lot. “You can’t just say across the board it’s going to be all right — because it’s not all right.
“If this was a church and they were all nuns and priests, then fine,” he said. “But that’s not what this is.”

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Recent Congressional Candidate Charged With Domestic Assault

Former U.S. Congressional candidate Brad Staats was arrested early on Sunday morning after allegedly slapping his wife during a domestic dispute, reports The City Paper.
Staats admitted to police that he “pushed his wife … down onto a bed then left the location,” according to a Metro Nashville Police Department affidavit. The report also indicates that Staats’ wife Bethany called police to their Hermitage home and told police Staats slapped her.
“Ms. Staats did have a red mark on her left cheek consistent with her statement,” the affidavit reads.
The former Republican candidate for Tennessee’s 5th District was booked into Davidson County Jail at 3:39 a.m. Sunday. Staats, 43, was charged with one count of misdemeanor domestic assault, posted a $5,000 bond and was released.
Staats, whose campaign site describes him as a “family matters” conservative, ran against longtime Democratic incumbent Congressman Jim Cooper in November’s election. Cooper won by more than 30 percent of the vote.

Violence Up in Juvenile Detention System Following Taft Closing

The Department of Children’s Services has seen a sharp spike in violence involving children and youths housed in its juvenile detention system in just the past three months, according to data obtained by The Tennessean.
Over July, August and September, there were 102 youth-on-youth or youth-on-staff assaults that involved teachers, staff and guards at Woodland Hills Youth Development Center in Nashville, a facility that holds 125 boys and young men ages 13 to 19.
At the Mountain View Youth Development Center in Jefferson County, where 105 boys and young men live, there were 67 reported assaults in the same three-month period.
And at Wilder Youth Development Center in Fayette County, which houses 139 boys and young men, the assault total for three months reached 90.
The rash of assaults reported at DCS facilities follows a controversial decision by agency Commissioner Kate O’Day to shut down two of the state’s detention centers on July 1 as a cost-saving measure. Those two facilities — the Taft Youth Development Center for boys in Bledsoe County and the New Visions center for girls in Nashville — had been where DCS sent some of its most violent and troubled youths.
Those youths have now been transferred to four of DCS’ remaining facilities.

Democrats Step Up Denounciations of DesJarlais

Democrats are stepping up their criticism of Republican U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais, who faces a November contest with state Sen. Eric Stewart for the 4th Congressional District seat.
From Chris Carroll comes a story on state Democratic Party officials renewing accusations of “pay-to-play politics” by the incumbent. in U.S. Rep. Scott DesJarlais’ office.
Statewide Democratic leaders initially raised the issue in late March, saying the first-term Republican received re-election help from a nuclear energy company five days before he urged government officials to “free up funds” for one of the company’s projects.
A minutelong video released Thursday describes DesJarlais as “bought and paid for by the Washington lobbyists.”
The online video explores DesJarlais’ relationship with USEC Inc., a Maryland-based nuclear energy company and a contractor at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Numerous residents commute there from DesJarlais’ 4th Congressional District.
On March 14, 2011, USEC’s political action committee sent $1,000 to DesJarlais’ re-election campaign. Two months later, the congressman signed a letter asking White House officials to “make rapid completion” of a loan guarantee for the company’s “American Centrifuge” project.
On Oct. 31, 2011, USEC’s PAC sent another $1,000 to DesJarlais. Five days after the check arrived, the congressman signed a separate letter urging the Department of Energy to “take administrative action now to free up funds” for USEC.
DesJarlais has branded himself a fiscal conservative committed to privatizing government programs and slashing federal spending.
“This level of hypocrisy is pathetic,” Tennessee Democratic Party Chairman Chip Forrester said. “We’ll never get our economy back on track … as long as self-serving politicians like Scott DesJarlais are corrupting our government with pay-to-play politics.”
In a statement, DesJarlais said the USEC project is “a key concern to both our national security interests and nuclear energy production.”
“I have and will continue to support this project because of its importance to national security and job creation in East Tennessee,” he said.

Meanwhile, here’s release from the Stewart campaign:
At a time when Tennessee’s Governor and U.S. Senators are strengthening state and federal laws to protect women from violence, Congressman Scott DesJarlais (R- Jasper) voted to defund support and services offered to abused women.
Tennessee’s two U.S. Senators, Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), both voted to reauthorize and fund the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) last month. The Act was originally passed by Congress in 1994 and provides funding for investigation and prosecution of crimes against women, but DesJarlais refused to support the measure and instead supported an intensely partisan bill that narrows and cuts funding of domestic violence investigations.

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House Passes Bill Increasing Domestic Violence Penalties

By Erik Schelzig, Associated Press
NASHVILLE, Tenn.– The House on Wednesday passed Gov. Bill Haslam’s bill to require mandatory jail time for people with repeat domestic violence convictions.
The chamber voted 98-1 to approve the bill sponsored by Republican Rep. Jim Coley of Bartlett, despite objections from some lawmakers that the measure could be seen as an unfunded mandate for local governments.
“This cost is going to be passed on to local governments, and I don’t know about y’all, but I told my people that I won’t do them like the feds do the state,” said Rep. Eddie Bass, D-Prospect, who voted against the bill.
Haslam earlier this month brokered an agreement with the representatives of local governments to break an impasse over the domestic abuse measure. Under the deal, the state will increase the reimbursement to local jails by $2 dollars per day, at a total annual price tag of about $4 million.

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Haslam Anti-Crime Bills on Guns, Gangs Get Unanimous Approval

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The House on Monday approved two key pieces of Republican Gov. Bill Haslam’s anti-crime package and sent the bills for the governor’s signature.
The chamber voted 91-0 to increase penalties for violent crimes committed by groups of three or more people. A bill to enhance penalties for gun possession by people with previous felony convictions was approved on a 95-0 vote with no debate.
The companion bills were approved earlier by the Senate. Haslam included the estimated $6 million cost of the enhanced penalties in his budget proposal, but did not include funding for other parts of his crime package.
As a consequence, some of those measures have faced a bumpier road in the Legislature. They include bills seeking to create a prescription drug database and to require mandatory jail time for people receiving repeat domestic violence convictions.
The domestic violence bill has been further complicated by charges filed against Rep. David Hawk last week after his wife said he assaulted her. Hawk has denied the charges and alleged that his wife threatened him with a gun.
The governor’s plan was produced over the course of a year by representatives of 11 state agencies to reduce drug abuse and trafficking, lower violent crime and cut the rate of repeat offenders.

Note: The bills are SB2250, Ifirearms) and SB2252 (gangs)

Hawk Returns to Legislature; Says Wife Pointed a Gun at Him

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Rep. David Hawk returned to the state Legislature on Monday afternoon, just hours after his first court appearance on a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence resulted in an order for the Greeneville Republican to have no contact with his wife.
Hawk accepted handshakes and well wishes from fellow lawmakers at his desk before stepping out of the chamber to meet with reporters.
“Yesterday morning my wife had a gun and told me that she was going to put a bullet in my head while I was holding my baby,” Hawk said.
Hawk’s account of the incident stands in contrast to the criminal complaint obtained by The Greeneville Sun (http://bit.ly/ws76T2), which describes Cristal Hawk saying her husband grabbed her by the arm, struck her in the face and knocked her to ground in an altercation at their home.
Crystal Hawk said she was holding their 11-month-old daughter at the time. She said her husband then took the child and went to a neighbor’s house.

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