Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Don't let Nashville say it's progressive to nation

Today I unveil a new logo for Nashville in anticipation of next week's presidential debate at Belmont University.

Nashville's elected and chamber of commerce officials are intent on selling Music City to the nation as a progressive place. But people who live here know better. It's just not everyone is willing to admit the truth.

Take this logo and e-mail it to your friends, fellow bloggers, blog sites and contacts in the news media. Make sure when the nation's focus is applied to Nashville, the full truth is seen -- particularly for the most vulnerable and voiceless.

Here are some talking points for the logo to make more people aware of Nashville's gross failures to treat every human being with dignity:

1) TORTURING PREGNANT WOMEN: The 287g deportation program was sold on a lie to the people here by Sheriff Daron Hall. The program has focused on undocumented immigrants and their families who have no criminal record. Crime has not fallen because of the program, which was its original intent.

Instead, there have been human rights outrages. The most prominent one was the arrest of a pregnant woman of Hispanic descent three days before her due date. What was her crime against humanity? She illegally passed another vehicle in the slow lane. She was jailed and her children handed over to a member of her family without her approval despite having written and photo ID of her residency in Nashville.

She was shackled during and after labor. Her newborn, American citizen son was taken from her. He was denied his mother's milk to build his immunity system. She was not allowed to express her milk, resulting in severe pain and an inability to sleep back in her jail cell. Mrs. Juana Villegas (DeLaPaz) was ultimately cleared of her traffic offenses.

Yet the deportation program continues in effect. And that's despite Nashville being governed by Democrats, including U.S. Rep. Jim Cooper and Mayor Karl Dean. Cooper is a big backer of Sen. Barack Obama. The New York Times has reported on the outrage and The Boston Globe has editorialized against the program.

2) FAILED PUBLIC SCHOOLS: Nashville public schools are one year from being under state control for failure to meet standards under the No Child Left Behind Act. The city's nickname of the Athens of the South is a cruel joke for poor and minority children. The school district is under the control of the local chamber of commerce, which pushed and gained a rezoning plan that resegregates Nashville's public schools. A chamber member heads the school board.

3) RACIAL PROFILING/POLICE MISCONDUCT: The 287g program has resulted in the racial profiling of people of Hispanic descent in Nashville. That fact was proved by the recent arrest of a man waiting to go to work at a local laundromat. A Metro police officer approached him and asked for his ID. The man handed him a document that allowed him to get paid. That was not enough for the officer, who arrested the man and sent him on the path toward deportation.

Continuing reports have emerged of misconduct by Metro Police. One recent incident involved a young man who gave himself up to his church pastor and handed his belongings to his mother. The pastor took the young man to the police HQ for processing. Two weeks later, the pastor received a summons. He was called to be a witness for the young man who was accused on having drugs on him when processed. The pastor said that was ridiculous. Why would someone giving himself up still carry drugs with him? The pastor has many more stories of such incidents. The police department needs to be investigated by a permanent, civilian review board.

4) HARRASSING THE HOMELESS: Image, not action, is everything in Nashville. So that's why Metro is demolising a tent city set up the homeless. Where are these people to go? Out of sight, if they are going to stay in Nashville. In a city of more than 1,000 places of worship, this response to homelessnesss is shameful. If this outrage is allowed to continue, these places of worship should be turned into bowling alleys. That way, they would at least serve some visible purpose.

5) VANISHING HEALTH CARE: While a state issue, vanishing health care for the state's vulnerable citizens hits hard in Nashville. The state Capitol is located here, and Tennessee's governor is a former Nashville mayor. Yet the governor -- ironically also a Democratic -- has gutted the state's Medicaid program called TennCare. His latest cut was of 24-hour home nursing care for the permanently disabled. Their choice: either have a family member quit their job and stay home to provide care or go to a nursing home.

Meanwhile, the governor just gave $577 billion in corporate welfare to bring an auto plant to Chattanooga. What do fellow Democrats Mayor Karl Dean and Congressman Jim Cooper say about this outrage? Nothing.

So that's a starting list for the discussion with others and the media. There are more issues of unaddressed wrongs in Nashville.

Only a boycott can start efforts to address the gross abuse of the dignity of human beings in this city. Don't visit Nashville and spend your tourist dollars. Don't let your organizations bring their conventions here. And don't spend money on country music products.

Get Nashville's attention by getting out the word about its human rights abuses.

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