Grassroots Leadership In The News

Apr 16, 2018
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Politico

How Trump moved the Mexican border north

'“This wasn’t behind closed doors in the middle of the night. This was very much in the community, out in front, for anyone to see,' Sofia Casini, a coordinator at the Austin non-profit Grassroots Leadership, told me. The organization directs a hotline for immigrant families. Before the February raids, the hotline got a couple calls a day; during the operation, she says, it received more than 1,000 calls. 'The vast majority of callers were asking if their kids would be taken away, where they could go and not go, if they should pick their kids up from school,' Cassini said." Read more about How Trump moved the Mexican border north

Apr 16, 2018
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Des Moines Register

Donna Red Wing, 'a force to be reckoned with' in fight for LGBTQ rights, dies after battle with cancer

"Donna Red Wing, a civil rights activist who campaigned for LGBTQ equality, died Monday afternoon at her home in Des Moines after an eight-month battle with cancer. She was 67. 

Red Wing, who was once called as 'the most dangerous woman in America' by the Christian Coalition, spent more than three decades advocating for civil rights. She was described in an obituary as a well-known national leader in the fight for LGBTQ equality." Read more about Donna Red Wing, 'a force to be reckoned with' in fight for LGBTQ rights, dies after battle with cancer

Apr 13, 2018
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Austin American-Statesman

GIVING CITY: $750,000 in funding cut for immigrant legal assistance

"The effective elimination of the legal orientation program further isolates people already living in geographically remote detention centers, a situation that concerns Bob Libal, executive director of Grassroots Leadership.

'Further restricting access to these facilities and isolating people in detention does grave harm to the interest of justice and to individuals,' he said. He said Grassroots Leadership’s regular visits to detainees at the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor led to an FBI investigation of sexual assault claims at the center." Read more about GIVING CITY: $750,000 in funding cut for immigrant legal assistance

Apr 13, 2018
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La Opinion

La “cero tolerancia” en la frontera de Estados Unidos no desalentará a quienes huyen por su vida: expertos

"Algo que sí logra este tipo de medida es engrosar las ganancias de cárceles privadas y gastar mucho dinero del erario público, sin que se haya comprobado la efectividad de la medida para detener futura inmigración. Según un estudio del grupo Grassroots Leadership, Operation Streamline ha costado al menos 7,000 millones de dólares desde su origen." Read more about La “cero tolerancia” en la frontera de Estados Unidos no desalentará a quienes huyen por su vida: expertos

Apr 11, 2018
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Rewire

#ICEOnTrial: Advocates Rally to Hold Federal Agency Accountable for Systemic Abuses

'“The fact is that ICE is now acting with more impunity than ever; it’s actively retaliating against people who speak out. Look what happened to Laura Monterrosa. What happened to her is happening at detention centers across the country,' Merton said.

As Rewire.News reported, Laura Monterrosa alleged that she was was repeatedly sexually assaulted by a guard while detained in the T. Don Hutto Detention Center in Taylor, Texas. The guard remained employed at Hutto during the bulk of Monterrosa’s detainment. After public pressure to launch a criminal investigation, ICE said it reviewed her case and found Monterrosa’s claims to be “unsubstantiated.” ICE eventually released her from custody, after the Salvadoran migrant attempted suicide." Read more about #ICEOnTrial: Advocates Rally to Hold Federal Agency Accountable for Systemic Abuses

Apr 6, 2018
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KOOP

Decriminalizing Homelessness / Celebrating Cesar Chavez's Legacy

"This episode of KOOP Radio's People United presents coverage of both a press conference by the Decarcerate ATX coalition, which wants a repeal of city ordinances that put unreasonable burdens on homeless residents of Austin, Texas, and the 17th annual Cesar Chavez "¡Sí, Se Puede!" March on Austin's east side, which focused on issues affecting low-income Latino residents.  At the press conference, Austin City Council member Greg Casar from District 4, John Elford of the University United Methodist Church, Cate Graziani and Chris Harris of Grassroots Leadership, Annette Price of the Texas Fair Defense Project, and Austin resident Alvin Sanderson spoke outside the Austin Convention Center on April 3, 2018. " Read more about Decriminalizing Homelessness / Celebrating Cesar Chavez's Legacy

Apr 4, 2018
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KLBJ

Austin Group is Seeking an Ordinance to Stop the City from targeting the Homeless

"'Don't criminalize the homeless.'  That's the message from a group who is advocating for an end to city ordinances that targets the homeless, including one that bans them from sleeping on downtown sidewalks and another that regulates panhandling.  Albin Sanderson is homeless and says these ordinances make life even tougher for him, as well says he almost drowned in a recent rainstorm because he couldn't sleep on the city streets.  He and other advocates say the city should stop criminalizing homelessness and instead find ways to put them into jobs.  Others say fining them only keeps them in debt and on the street.

Protesters are demanding that Austin changes its ordinances targeting homeless people and there are three items on the books that protesters are taking issue with, including one that limits where the homeless can camp and how they can panhandle.  

Homeless supporters say the city should be giving the homeless jobs instead of fining them or putting them in jail." Read more about Austin Group is Seeking an Ordinance to Stop the City from targeting the Homeless

Apr 4, 2018
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Austin American-Statesman

Travis County eyes new women’s jail facility

"I’m supportive of trying everything we can regarding jail diversion efforts, especially for misdemeanor cases. But, jail diversion efforts will take time, and I expect activist groups (especially Grassroots Leadership) to help with this effort. It’ll be interesting to see how many of those who didn’t want the county to go ahead with the new women’s facility will be actively involved in meaningful ways to divert women from our jail. Effective jail diversion efforts will also take lots of money and community services, which means taxpayers would more than likely have to foot the bill. In the meantime, this office is working diligently in trying to find ways to lower our overall jail population by being an active participant in our Jail Population Monitoring Group." Read more about Travis County eyes new women’s jail facility

Apr 3, 2018
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Fox 7

Advocates call for the city to end ordinances targeting homeless

"A coalition called “Decarcerate ATX”  is calling on the city of Austin to repeal three ordinances they say: criminalize the homeless.

The first ordinance, 9.4.14 prohibits sitting or lying on a sidewalk or sleeping outdoors in the downtown business area. The other is ordinance 9.4.13, which limits actions related to panhandling. The third ordinance 9.4.11 is an ordinance banning camping in public areas. 

The advocates said they are calling on city council to get rid of the rules, as they only make things worse, they said. Albin Sanderson is homeless right now. At a Tuesday press conference, he described a time when officers approached him while he was sleeping one evening." Read more about Advocates call for the city to end ordinances targeting homeless

Apr 3, 2018
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The Patch

Advocates Call For End To 'Criminalization' Of Austin's Homeless

"'The Decarcerate ATX coalition is calling for an immediate repeal of these ordinances and an end to the criminalization of homelessness,' officials said in a press advisory ahead of the gathering.

Added Cate Graziani, criminal justice campaigns coordinator with Grassroots Leadership: 'In addition to talking about fair housing, let's not omit that Austin is putting people in jail for homelessness instead of providing homes, jobs, or services. These ordinances do not deter people from living outside when they have nowhere else to go. By funneling people into the criminal justice system, these ordinances make it more difficult for people to secure housing and employment."' Read more about Advocates Call For End To 'Criminalization' Of Austin's Homeless

Apr 3, 2018
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Austin Monitor

Will Manley be made police chief? City manager remains mum

"Chris Harris of Grassroots Leadership, one of the groups that has pushed in recent years to increase police accountability, challenged the notion that Manley's handling of the bombings made him right for the job. 

'You say it ain’t broke,' he said, referring to Tyrees comments. 'I think many other people in our community dont share that perspective.'

Harris also argued that there were unanswered questions about the investigation into the bombings, including the police departments initial theory that Anthony House, the first bombing victim, may have made the bomb himself." Read more about Will Manley be made police chief? City manager remains mum

Apr 2, 2018
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KXAN

Process of hiring permanent Austin police chief beginning soon

"During Monday's public safety commission meeting, advocates stressed the importance of the public input process. 

'These hiring processes are really valuable opportunities for us to reflect on what the police are doing,' explained Chris Harris, with Grassroots Leadership. 'What should the next police chief be? What should the department be? How should the department look in 10 years? These are the things that we need to be talking about. These are discussions we need to be having in our city."' Read more about Process of hiring permanent Austin police chief beginning soon

Apr 2, 2018
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The Nation

‘A Border Control Official Sexually Abused Me’

"Earlier this month, Salvadoran immigrant Laura Monterrosa was finally released from detention in Texas after publicly accusing a female guard of sexually assaulting her. In 2010, a Guatemalan woman reported surviving an attempted rape by a Corrections Corporation of America guard named Donald Dunn. (The company has been renamed CoreCivic.) The complaint spiraled into a massive sexual-abuse scandal as a slew of other women came forward, and Dunn was jailed after pleading guilty to assault charges." Read more about ‘A Border Control Official Sexually Abused Me’

Mar 29, 2018
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La Opinion

“Hay otras 500 mujeres allá adentro, sufriendo”, dice Laura Monterrosa, migrante liberada de Don Hutto

"Claudia Muñoz, directora de programas de la organización Grassroots Leadership dijo que para los inmigrantes que abogan por las mujeres detenidas en Hutto, la liberación de Laura había sido un caso muy importante y sin precedente." Read more about “Hay otras 500 mujeres allá adentro, sufriendo”, dice Laura Monterrosa, migrante liberada de Don Hutto

Mar 27, 2018
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The Daily Texan

Parent safety group advocates for APD Chief Manley to become permanent police chief

"Chris Harris, data analyst and campaigns coordinator for Grassroots Leadership, a civil and human rights organization, said a formal process should take place before Cronk makes a final decision.

'It may be harmful to the city to make rash decisions immediately after such a traumatic event for our city,' Harris said.  

Harris said citizens should have the chance to look at other possible candidates for police chief and hear their agenda before a decision is made. 

'Aside from city manager, there may not be (a) more important position that’s hired within the city,' Harris said. 'For us not to go through a similar process … and have the candidates for that position tell us what they’re going to do and then for us to be able to hold them to that — that means we all, as a community, lose out on a valuable opportunity to help shape what the police force will be.'" Read more about Parent safety group advocates for APD Chief Manley to become permanent police chief

Mar 26, 2018
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KXAN

Judge to decide if city can access APD personnel files without contract

"Before the hearing, social justice advocacy groups Grassroots Leadership and the Austin Justice Coalition held a press conference siding with the city. Leaders there say the police associations are using 'access' as a bargaining tool in the restarted contract negotiations. 

The Austin Justice Coalition and Grassroots Leadership are siding with city lawyers. Sukyi McMahon with the coalition says there are too many officer shootings and use of force complaints for police to police themselves. She wants someone who's not an officer watching over." Read more about Judge to decide if city can access APD personnel files without contract

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