Distractions


Photo: The Tennessean

Today, the Davidson County Election Commission voted 5-0 to clear the way for a referendum on the November 6th ballot for a community oversight board. This is a result of the months-long hard work by the Community Oversight Now coalition to add a Metro charter amendment for police accountability. After two black men – Jocques Clemmons and Daniel Hambrick – were gunned down in the back by two white Metro Nashville Police officers within 18 months, the public has once again called for police accountability.

As we said in our statement last week, we support a community oversight board for Nashville. But not everyone thinks so. The Nashville Fraternal Order of Police challenged the validity of the petition signatures today. Now that the ballot measure will go forward, they, yet again, intend to block citizens from engaging in the civic process by appealing the election commission’s decision.

We call these distractions.

On the state level, Governor Bill Haslam granted clemency to four Tennessee inmates last month. Meanwhile, he continues to ignore the national and local outcry to grant clemency for Cyntoia Brown. In response, we sent him this letter.

Does Gov. Haslam think we’ll forget about Cyntoia Brown? We call BS on these distractions.

Yesterday, President Donald Trump called his former White House aide – and the highest ranking black woman on his staff – a “lowlife” “dog.” He continues to ratchet up dog whistle rhetoric directed toward blacks and women. Stay woke, because that same day, Ben Carson, his Secretary of Housing and Urban Development pushed to bring back housing discrimination and segregation.

Again, the president’s tweets are all distractions.

Our recent political climate has been frustrating, to say the least. We get it. You’re feeling hopeless, indifferent, angry, and even defeated.

Stay woke. Be vigilant. Be encouraged. There’s a way out of this, and that’s to vote. Vote out those elected officials who don’t represent your values or value black lives. We want all people of color to have a fair and just opportunity at realizing the American dream. But we know the current status quo can’t continue.

Stay focused. November is coming.

Statement on Daniel Hambrick Fatal Officer-Involved Shooting

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 10, 2018

Like many others in the Nashville community, we were disturbed and outraged at the video released by Nashville District Attorney Glenn Funk of the fatal officer-involved shooting of Daniel Hambrick. The killing of black men and women at the hands of police is a serious matter, as it conjures up a decades-long history of Jim Crow era state-sanctioned racial violence by police in predominantly black communities.

There have been two officer-involved shootings less than two years apart under Chief Steve Anderson’s leadership. Countless other incidents and formal complaints involving black Nashvillians have previously gone unresolved or ignored. The community continues to be distrustful of his leadership based on his refusal or willful neglect to correct and rectify past grievances by residents. In order for any healing and trust to be restored, or for any effective change in policy to occur within the Metro Nashville Police Department, Chief Anderson must not be at the helm. Therefore, we call for Chief Anderson to step down, and if this does not happen, we call on Mayor David Briley to immediately remove him from his position. We also demand that individuals from marginalized communities in Nashville have input in the selection of a new chief.

The Equity Alliance aims to equip citizens with tools and strategies to engage in the civic process and empower them to take action on issues affecting their daily lives. We applaud Nashvillians who use tools readily available to them to be engaged in the civic process. This includes the right to petition, the right to peacefully assemble, meeting with their appointed and elected officials and voting, to name a few. When local government impedes on our ability to be engaged citizens, we find this deeply problematic.

In the year leading up to Daniel Hambrick’s death, community groups, constituents and grieving families repeatedly sought meetings with Chief Anderson, only to be turned away and blacklisted. When Gideon’s Army released the evidence-based “Driving While Black” report, it was met with criticism and called “morally disingenuous” by Chief Anderson. When initial efforts to create a community oversight board were launched, local government officials conspired to bring the New York-based Policing Project to Nashville to diminish these efforts. When the Community Oversight Now coalition delivered to Metropolitan Clerk Elizabeth Waites twice the number of petition signatures required to place a proposed charter amendment on the November 6th ballot, she refused to do her job — paid by taxpayers — to certify the petitions. This act of defiance was met with no reprimand or accountability.

These are not merely isolated incidents. But rather collective evidence of a local government that has gone rogue from the people it’s supposed to serve. This is wrong.

During Mayor David Briley’s press conference, he called for a comprehensive review of policing practices. While we appreciate his commitment to working with community leaders to bring police oversight – a stark contrast from the previous administration, we believe his proposal to bring the Policing Project to Nashville falls short. Not only does this undermine the credible work that has already been done by local black-led community organizations, but the optics of this decision sends a message that local black-led groups cannot be trusted with resources to solve our own community issues. Therefore, we stand in solidarity with Community Oversight Now to support a community oversight board in Nashville and urge Mayor Briley to do the same. The signatures of more than 8,200 residents should not be ignored. This is what the people want.

Our hearts and deepest condolences go out to the family and friends of Daniel Hambrick and hope that justice is served for them.

 

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Fully Funding Metro Nashville Schools

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The Equity Alliance advocates for African Americans and other communities of color to have a fair and just opportunity to realize the American dream. There is nothing more foundational to American success than obtaining a high-quality education. A free and public education should be the birthright for every child in our city.

Metro Nashville Public Schools serves 71% minority students with African Americans consisting of 42% of this population. If our goal is to ensure Nashville’s children have the best head start in life, then the equitable distribution of resources for public schools is a universal start. If Nashville is to really be the It City, we MUST be deliberate in supporting all communities, especially those who have historically been overlooked. This cannot happen if our schools are forced to continue operating without being fully funded.

MNPS will experience a budget shortfall for the 2018-19 school year. This is happening at a time when corporate interests are being catered to using taxpayer dollars, and the misappropriation of funds leads to high-dollar economic investments that benefit the few.

The proposed budget for MNPS is an additional $45 million, but Metro is offering $5 million to operate next year. In the past, Nashville’s public school system made up about 50% of the city’s budget. The proposal set to go before the Metro Council this month leaves schools at close to 41%. In fact, a piece of school property will be sold for $13 million to even meet that percentage. Schools are closing, academic programs are being cut, and even the free school lunch program is seeing major reductions if this happens. At a time when corporations and private entities are being financially supported by our city, why should our public schools be begging for coins?

Nashville’s children should have access to the best possible education, and Superintendent Dr. Shawn Joseph needs the support of the school board, Metro Council, and Mayor’s office to lead the district’s academic progress.

On Tuesday, the Metro Council will be taking public comments on the proposed budget. We urge our elected officials to find more funding for our schools.

Make Your Voice Heard

Metro Council Meeting
Tuesday, June 5
6:30 p.m.
Metro Courthouse Building
1 Public Square, Nashville, TN 37201 – 2nd Floor

Email Metro Council Members

TEAm Meeting: Faith-Based Political Engagement – May 29, 2018

“Faith-Based Political Engagement”

As a recap to Soul to the Polls and as we gear up for the next August midterm election, local prominent faith leaders will share about the importance of “Faith-Based Political Engagement” and their experience partnering with The Equity Alliance for Souls to the Polls. This month’s TEAm meeting will be a call to action for other faith leaders (of any denomination) to get involved with nonpartisan voter registration and turnout.

The Equity Alliance board members will also share upcoming initiatives and opportunities that guests in attendance can participate in for the August 2nd election. Come prepared to take action and get to work!

SPEAKERS:
Pastor James Turner, II, New Hope Missionary Baptist Church and President of Interdenominational Ministers Fellowship (IMF)
Pastor John Faison, Sr., Watson Grove Baptist Church
Bishop Joseph Walker, III, Mt. Zion Baptist Church

Free and open to the public.

RSVP: info@theequityallliance.org


The Equity Alliance hosts a TEAm meeting on the last Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m. at Lee Chapel AME Church. Meetings are open to the public and interested volunteers.

The Equity Alliance & IMF to host free “Voting is LIT” Community Block Party April 21

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

THE EQUITY ALLIANCE & THE INTERDENOMINATIONAL MINISTER’S FELLOWSHIP TO HOST “VOTING IS LIT” COMMUNITY BLOCK PARTY

Nonprofit aims to increase African-American turnout during first Saturday of early voting April 21

Nashville, Tenn. (APRIL 9, 2018) – On the heels of releasing its inaugural Nashville Voter Guide with more than 929 downloads in its first two weeks, The Equity Alliance is now gearing up for its Community Block Party to energize the community during the May 1 primary election early voting period. The “Voting is Lit” Community Block Party will be held Saturday, April 21 from Noon to 4 p.m. at Hartman Park Community Center, located at 2801 Tucker Road near the Bordeaux Library precinct.

The event will include a kid’s corner, live performances, a Greek showcase and stroll off featuring local fraternities and sororities, music, food and a party bus to shuttle attendees to go vote at the Bordeaux Library. Robert “Black Rob” Higgins will be hosting along with local 92Q on-air personality DJ C-Wiz.

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“There are several reasons that hinder voter turnout in Nashville, including lack of education and awareness of who’s on the ballot,” said The Equity Alliance Founder and Board President Charlane Oliver, “One of the steps we took this year was to educate the community by releasing the 2018 Nashville Voter Guide. The next step is to engage the community with programs and events like this one.”

Early voting has its advantages. Citizens can vote at any early voting location that is most convenient and can vote during a time that best fits their personal schedule. Through their partnership with the Interdenominational Minister’s Fellowship (IMF) to launch Souls to the Polls, The Equity Alliance will shuttle attendees to vote at the Bordeaux Library precinct throughout the event.

“Research has shown that when poll parties are held near a voting precinct in a predominantly African-American neighborhood, voter turnout is likely to increase,” says Tequila Johnson, The Equity Alliance co-founder, vice president and event organizer. “We are so appreciative of organizations like IMF. The support of the Nashville churches and other organizations across the city has been vital to our mission to build coalitions and alliances.”

The mission of The Equity Alliance is to increase minority voter participation and foster civic engagement. Tennessee ranks 50th in voter turnout and 40th in voter registration. In Davidson County, people of color live in precincts with the lowest voter turnout.

The event is free and open to the public.

For more information on this event, to become a volunteer or to learn more about The Equity Alliance, please visit, www.theequityalliance.org or email info@theequityalliance.org.

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About The Equity Alliance

Established in January 2017, The Equity Alliance proactively advocates for communities of color to have a fair and just opportunity at realizing the American dream. As a Nashville-based, nonpartisan, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, The Equity Alliance equips citizens with tools and strategies to engage in the civic process and empower them to take action on issues affecting their daily lives. Our work is achieved through four areas: Voter Registration, Voter Education, Voter Restoration, and Voting Rights. Learn more at www.theequityalliance.org or follow on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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