Story and photos by Baylee Vannoy / Contributing Writer
On Friday, Oct 9, Middle Tennessee State University’s Young Democratic Socialists of America took matters to the square in support of Senator Raumesh Akbari’s bill proposal.
After all that came to light from the Breonna Taylor case, Memphis Sen. Akbari recently announced that she plans on filing a bill which would ban no-knock warrants in Tennessee. Currently, no-knock warrants are illegal in very few select cities in the state, such as Memphis and Chattanooga.
This bill would officially ban them state-wide.
After hearing this news, YDSA decided to make known their support for this bill. On Friday, the group set up on a corner outside of the Rutherford County Courthouse from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. It was a peaceful rally that involved, “guest speakers, local candidates and live music.”
Among the main focus of no-knock warrants, another hope for the rally was to give people a chance to meet and hear from some of the local candidates who they could soon be voting for in the upcoming election. The rally included guest speakers such as Rutherford County state senate candidates Matt Ferry, Brandon Thomas, Mariah Phillips and Chase Clemmons.
All four spoke on their support for this bill, along with countless other issues which they desire to address in order to help end local injustice.
Clemmons desired for the public to be in the know. He hoped this rally would make more people aware of the bill and what it will take to get it passed. He stated, “We know right now that something that seems so obvious as a ban on no-knock warrants, it’s going to face a long uphill fight in the state legislature. So, the more that we can talk about it, the more we can keep it in the news and the more we can make sure that our friends, family, neighbors know about something like that. The more power that our legislatures are going to have up there to actually get this thing pushed through.”
Phillips wanted to ensure that the public knew just how truly important it is for people to vote. She brought up that in 2017, a similar bill was proposed to the state legislature. However, the lack of support meant that it never even left committee. Phillips stated, “…unless [Akbari] has enough support in the State Senate, and unless we can get enough support in the State House, the bill will just be another proposal that will die in committee. So to keep actual citizens from dying unjustly due to no-knock warrants, we need to make sure that we have enough people who support these types of legislation in the State House and in the State Senate to make the changes that we need for the people.”
Beyond candidates, there were also a few guest speakers who spoke on the matter. These included Braxton Coleman and Jama Mohamed, as well as a performance by rapper Rambo Lee.
When asked what other changes he would like to see occur on the road to justice for all, Thomas referred back to Mohamed’s story, “…Here in Rutherford County we had a pre-trial release program and we need to do that across the state so if somebody like Jamal who…needed Orajel and needed to steal that and got arrested. Is he really a threat to society? We need to determine that. And if he’s not, let him go home. You know? And not stay in jail… obviously he’s in a situation where he feels like he has to do that to get by… he could lose his house, he could lose his home right?.”
Thomas continued to say, “We shouldn’t be putting that burden on Tennessee families and so I think that is one thing that we can do immediately and it’s not going to affect the budget… obviously bail bonds folks won’t be too happy, but I mean they weren’t happy when the pre-trial release program happened in Rutherford County either so they’re never going to be happy but this is for the greater good of Tennessee.”
Finally, when asked what he hoped to make clear with his speech, Ferry responded, “I really like the conversation that’s going on right now as far as defunding the police. And not abolishing the police, but saying we’re investing too much money into this and not enough money into these other things. We absolutely want to reprioritize this money.”
Ferry went on to say, “I mean the reason why we’re here today is because… people of color are three times as likely to be pulled over, arrested, or shot and killed for something absolutely frivolous compared to their white counterparts, so that’s one of the big reasons why we’re here. But a part of that larger conversation is, how do we do policing in America? How do we do policing in this state? How can we do better? And really this conversation has to be we are not investing in communities of need, we are not giving them a leg up in the world, we’re making them struggle and that makes them turn to a life of crime and it’s just an ongoing cycle.”
All in all, each candidate helped to drive home the importance of this bill. As well as the importance that voting has on a much more local level. The rally provided a safe hub for important conversations to happen.
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