Grassroots Leadership In The News

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

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

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