Grassroots Leadership In The News

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

Mar 26, 2018
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Mundo Hispánico

Laura Monterrosa la salvadoreña que fue liberada por ICE en Austin TX, habla sobre su encierro

"El lunes 26 de marzo, en las oficinas de Garssroots Leadership, en Austin, Texas, Monterrosa dijo estar felíz, después de haber logrado salir del centro donde denunció haber sufrido abusos sexuales y psicológicos por 10 meses.

Claudia Muñoz, Directora de Programas de Inmigración de Grassroots Leadership, la organización que apoyó a Monterrosa dijo a MundoHispánico que Laura tuvo el valor de hablar y reportar todos los abusos que se viven en el centro de detención.

'Finalmente después de 10 meses de estar detenida, como cinco meses de una lucha bien fuerte, por su caso, por su vida por su dignidad,  Laura salió finalmente del centro de detención', agregó Muñoz." Read more about Laura Monterrosa la salvadoreña que fue liberada por ICE en Austin TX, habla sobre su encierro

Mar 26, 2018
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¡Ahora Sí!

Salvadoran asylum-seeker says abuses still go on at detention center

"'I know that at this time, the women in the detention center are looking at me,' Laura Monterrosa said Monday in Spanish at a news conference, surrounded by local organizers who have been campaigning for her release since last year. 'Don’t let anyone violate your human rights. … It doesn’t matter if you are not of this country or if you are an immigrant, your rights will always be your rights, and they must be respected.'

Claudia Muñoz, the immigration programs director for Grassroots Leadership, which has been supporting Monterrosa, said she hopes other immigrants can look up to her as an example that they, too, can come forward with their own stories of abuse.

'We are hoping that they see Laura’s leadership and her courage and how brave she is, and they know that it is possible to speak out about your own case and be able to get your freedom,' Muñoz said." Read more about Salvadoran asylum-seeker says abuses still go on at detention center

Mar 26, 2018
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KVUE

Salvadoran asylum-seeker released from T. Don Hutto after sexual assault allegations

'"If it wasn't for Grassroots Leadership, all their support, all the organizations that were supporting me in the community that would have been impossible,' Monterrosa said. 'I'm living a different life. I'm receiving a dignified treatment. I'm receiving all the support that I need.'

Now that she's been released from the detention center, Monterrosa believes there's still a lot of work to be done.

'My goal is to fight for all women and not only women, but also for men that are in the detention centers,' Monterrosa said. 'My goal is for all the detention centers to be closed because it's not a dignified place to be."' Read more about Salvadoran asylum-seeker released from T. Don Hutto after sexual assault allegations

Mar 26, 2018
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We are Mitú

Salvadoran Woman Who Risked Deportation After Revealing Sexual Abuse In Detention Center Is Free

"Monterrosa pleaded for a united front on behalf of the women at T. Don Hutto.  According to Grassroots Leadership, less than 1 percentof sexual allegations made within immigrant detention centers are investigated.

'I know that by all of us working together we can achieve triumph,' Monterrosa said. 'I know the women there are watching me. I want to tell them to keep on fighting and moving forward and not allow anybody to violate their human rights. Everyone, regardless of where they came from, deserves to have their rights respected.”' Read more about Salvadoran Woman Who Risked Deportation After Revealing Sexual Abuse In Detention Center Is Free

Mar 23, 2018
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Austin Chronicle

Laura Monterrosa Released From T. Don Hutto

"Advocates rallied outside the courthouse last week, calling attention to systemic abuses at Hutto and detention centers statewide. 'ICE is trying to make an example out of Laura to discourage other victims of sexual abuse from coming out,' said Grassroots' Claudia Muñoz. 'Laura's is not an isolated case. We know that many of the 500 women at Hutto are going through the same abuses but not receiving the same attention. Laura's story is just the tip of the iceberg.'" Read more about Laura Monterrosa Released From T. Don Hutto

Mar 23, 2018
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KUT

Some See Danger In Rush To Appoint Manley Permanent Austin Police Chief

'“It makes no sense to make an appointment as serious as this in the immediate aftermath of something so complex and fast-moving,' said Chris Harris with the criminal justice reform group Grassroots Leadership.

He said the quick appointment of Manley to permanent chief would rob Austinites of the chance to participate in the process by which they normally make important city hires.

'If we don’t take the opportunity to get whomever will be the next chief to be on record as supporting policies that reflect the values of the community,' Harris said, 'then we’ve lost an extremely valuable opportunity to ensure we improve our police force.'" Read more about Some See Danger In Rush To Appoint Manley Permanent Austin Police Chief

Mar 23, 2018
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New York Times

In Austin, a Bomber’s Rampage Exposes Racial Fault Lines Long Buried

"Alejandro Caceres, 30, an organizer for Grassroots Leadership, a prison reform and immigrant rights group, who lives and works in East Austin, said he believed the police were dismissing the concerns of black and Hispanic residents that the bombings were, at least in part, racially motivated.

'We’re being told that all of our feelings and our realities are not true, that this person was not targeting black and brown people, that this person was not a terrorist,' Mr. Caceres said." Read more about In Austin, a Bomber’s Rampage Exposes Racial Fault Lines Long Buried

Mar 22, 2018
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Texas Observer

Asylum-Seeker’s Release Shows Activists Can Win Under Trump’s ICE

"'This case under Obama would’ve taken like a month,' said Claudia Muñoz, immigration projects director with Grassroots Leadership, an Austin nonprofit that fights private prisons and led the activism around Monterrosa’s case. Under Obama, she said, it was 'common practice' for ICE to release detained immigrants with health problems or in response to scandal — a practice that’s much less common now.

Muñoz, an undocumented activist who once made national headlines for infiltrating a Michigan immigrant detention center, said that ever since Trump’s election, it’s been an open question whether Trump’s ICE can be successfully pressured. 'A lot of people have stopped organizing because they don’t think it’s possible now,' she said. 'But you have to be willing to try; it might not work, but people are being deported either way.'

On Friday, ICE granted Monterrosa what’s called 'deferred action,' essentially a year-long promise not to deport her while she tries to sort out her immigration case. Such temporary reprieves, which are renewable but can be revoked by ICE at any time, are a common goal for activists and attorneys, but they’ve been much harder to come by under Trump. In a statement, San Antonio ICE spokesperson Nina Pruneda said Monterrosa is required to check in weekly with the agency." Read more about Asylum-Seeker’s Release Shows Activists Can Win Under Trump’s ICE

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