Activists support Memphis journalist in ICE custody

Published: Apr. 8, 2018 at 2:35 AM CDT|Updated: Apr. 8, 2018 at 8:05 AM CDT
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MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It's a story that's made headlines all week: a Memphis journalist and immigrant is in ICE custody after being arrested during a protest downtown.

Now, activists in support of Manuel Duran are announcing their next steps as they continue their fight.

It all started this week outside 201 Poplar, nine activists were arrested during a protest. One of those arrested was a journalist covering the event. His charges were dropped, but he's now facing a punishment that could possibly take him away from his family and life in Memphis forever. Some are fighting for his release.

Duran was live on Facebook during the demonstration in front of 201 Poplar on Tuesday. He didn't know he would be filming his own arrest.

"It was a chain of unfortunate events," Mauricio Calvo, with Latino Memphis, said.

Calvo said Duran is from El Salvador and has lived in Memphis for many years.

As a Spanish-language journalist, Duran has interviewed many prominent members of the community. Most recently, he started his own group called Memphis Noticias.

"A guy that has been a voice for the community," Calvo said.

ICE sent the following statement regarding Duran's arrest:[endif]

"Mr. Duran Ortega was ordered removed from the United States by a federal immigration judge in January 2007 after failing to appear for his scheduled court date. He has been an immigration fugitive since that time."

His arrest has some activists very angry.

Saturday afternoon, a speech by Mayor Jim Strickland was interrupted by people who demanded Duran be released.

"We're fighting for him. We're doing whatever we can," Ivan Flores, with Fighting for Duran, said.

Calvo said Latino Memphis is partnering with the Southern Poverty Law Center to fight for Duran.

"The timing is really appropriate as we continue to celebrate MLK 50, yes, there are many laws that are there, but they are unjust," he said.

Calvo understands deporting dangerous criminals, but not contributing members of our society like Duran.

"It's not making us better, it's not making us safer," he said.

Supporters have started the hashtag #FreeDuran on social media. Duran is currently being held in a detention facility in Louisiana. He faces a long legal battle to try to stay in the country.

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