Stand with Undocumented Journalist Manuel Duran and Demand that ICE Release Him Immediately.
On April 3, Memphis police arrested local journalist Manuel Duran, who was covering a demonstration denouncing law enforcement for turning over undocumented immigrants to the Department of Homeland Security.
The police claimed that Duran — an undocumented immigrant from El Salvador — was arrested for refusing orders to get off the street. The demonstration took place during the city’s commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.
The charges against Duran — disorderly conduct and obstruction of a highway or passageway — were dropped on April 5 and a judge dismissed the case. But instead of freeing Duran, city authorities turned him over to the Department of Homeland Security. He is currently being detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) in Jena, Louisiana.1
The unlawful arrest and detainment of Duran are an attack on our nation’s First Amendment freedoms. This crackdown is part of a national effort to silence immigrant voices speaking out against unjust policing and law enforcement.2
The Memphis Latinx community and the Southern Poverty Law Center — which is legally representing Duran — have accused law enforcement of targeting Duran because of his critical coverage of the city’s police department and DHS.3
Duran is a well-known journalist in Memphis. He has reported on the unjust conditions inside detention centers and on how immigration enforcement has separated families. He’s also covered police shootings and misconduct, writing recently about a Latino murder victim who was left in a van impounded by the Memphis police department for 49 days.
Duran was livestreaming the April 3 demonstration when he was arrested even though he was wearing a bright yellow press badge around his neck — and in spite of pleas from demonstrators who told the police he was a journalist.4
Duran’s arrest and subsequent detainment are part of the Trump administration’s attempts to silence immigrant communities and trample freedom of the press.
We’re calling on the press-freedom community, and all our members, to stand with Manuel Duran and demand that ICE release him immediately.
1. “Memphis Journalist Detained by ICE After Charges Dropped,” WSMV TV, April 20, 2018: http://www.wsmv.com/story/37894784/memphis-journalist-detained-by-ice-after-charges-dropped
2. “Manuel Duran Ortega v. U.S. Department of Homeland Security et al,” Southern Poverty Law Center, April 13, 2018: https://www.splcenter.org/sites/default/files/manuel_duran_habeas_final.pdf
3. “SPLC Seeks Release of Journalist Manuel Duran, Whose Coverage Criticized ICE,” Southern Poverty Law Center, April 15, 2018: https://www.splcenter.org/news/2018/04/15/splc-seeks-release-journalist-manuel-duran-whose-coverage-criticized-ice
4. “Arrest of Journalist Manuel Duran,” #WatchtheWatchers, April 3, 2018: https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=2&v=VSCoXe8vR0w