ELECTIONS

The United States is at a crossroad and at the center is the 2020 Election. Which way the country goes will depend on you, the voter.

We want to know your plan to vote. Early or on Election Day? How are you getting to the polls? Are you worried that your vote won’t be counted?

Please fill out this form. You may be contacted by a reporter for an interview and your responses may be included in an upcoming story.

In Shelby County, early voting runs Oct. 14 — 29. Absentee ballot requests must be delivered to the Shelby County Election Commission by Oct. 27. Election Day is Nov. 3. To find your polling place or request an absentee ballot, check here.


ANALYSIS

Black districts are on the line when the GOP redraws maps due to slow county growth, early data collection cutoff

MLK50 photo illustration

It appears certain Shelby County will lose a state House seat after the 2020 Census results come in, and could lose two — both possibly from predominantly Black districts.

Shelby County has lost a legislative seat after each of the last four once-a-decade federal censuses. …


Guest column: “Having a gun pointed at me was a terrifying end for an already emotional day.”

Several of the demonstrators who had a gun pulled on them by Paul Staples Wednesday speak during a Thursday press conference near his South Main residence. From left: Aaron Boggan, Latoya Chatman, Shannon Bourne, Rev. Edith A. Love and Lj Abraham. Photo by Wendi C. Thomas

When Black people are unjustly killed for holding a wallet or cell phone, for jogging, for “fitting the description,” or even while sleeping in bed, I find it appalling that Memphis police refused to even question a white man Wednesday night when he pointed a gun at me and other protesters.

There were multiple police officers around when it happened, and even with photo and video evidence shown to them, they refused to take a report at the scene and did not question or detain him.

Instead, the man, Paul Staples, was allowed to turn…


Paul Staples first told police he’d aimed a .22 caliber pellet gun, then turned in a toy gun, and then the gun he’d actually used: A 9 mm pistol.

Paul Staples, 39, was booked into the Shelby County Jail Friday and charged with eight counts of aggravated assault and one count of tampering with or fabricating evidence.

The man who pointed a gun at protesters leaving a Breonna Taylor demonstration has been arrested and charged with aggravated assault and tampering with or fabricating evidence.

Paul Staples, 39, was booked into the Shelby County Jail Friday and is scheduled for his first court appearance Monday.

The incident that led to Staples’ arrest occurred Wednesday, after a grand jury refused to indict three white Louisville, Kentucky, police officers in the March shooting death of Breonna Taylor. To protest the jury decision, a small group of demonstrators led a protest in Downtown Memphis.

When the demonstration…


Protest

Police officers on the scene Wednesday were reluctant to take a report, give badge numbers, organizers say


CORONAVIRUS

Free COVID-19 mobile testing sites have been available in Choctaw, Miss. One in 10 members of the Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians has tested positive for COVID-19. Courtesy Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians

The coronavirus pandemic has hit the Mississippi Choctaw Band of Indians harder than any major city in the nation — and 10 times harder than the rest of Mississippi.

Of the 10,000 Choctaws served by the tribe, one in 10–1,092 — have tested positive for COVID-19.


Photo by Maria Oswalt on Unsplash

Black Lives Matters (BLM) has been portrayed by its detractors as many things: Marxist, radical, anti-American. Added to this growing list of charges is that it is either irreligious or doing religion wrong.

In late July, for instance, conservative commentator Andrew Sullivan tweeted that BLM was “incompatible” with Christianity.

He isn’t alone in that belief. Despite receiving the backing of diverse faith leaders and groups, BLM has been attacked by sections of the religious right. One evangelical institution felt compelled to issue a statement warning Christians about the movement’s “Godless agenda.” …


ENVIRONMENTAL JUSTICE

Boxtown residents have had little say in the Byhalia Connection pipeline project, which could erase property values and threaten Memphis’ water supply

Samuel Hardaway stands for a portrait near his family’s land in the Boxtown neighborhood in September 2020. Hardaway grew up in the community and spent his childhood playing in the woods before the neighborhood was annexed by the city of Memphis in the late 1960s and early 1970s. He’s among the residents who want more answers about the proposed Byhalia Connection pipeline’s impact on his home. Photos by Andrea Morales.

Mozell Smith is a breast cancer survivor with a hunch about what made her sick. Smith, who is in her mid-60’s, has friends and neighbors who have also fought a myriad of cancers. They all live in Boxtown, the Southwest Memphis neighborhood that has seen many industrial facilities spring up during Smith’s lifetime.

“This neighborhood always gets the brunt of whatever the other neighborhoods don’t want,” she said.

Boxtown is 99% Black, according to U.S. Census data. Located just south of T.O. Fuller State Park, it’s an area cloaked in kudzu that climbs the rolling hills of…


Black Lives Matter

Guest column | “To my fellow white people who have been upset about graffiti, I ask you, what is your priority?” asks Memphis minister

A screenshot of an Instagram post on the Levitt Shell account regarding the graffiti.

As a white woman, I know we white women are the town criers of white supremacy. When we holler, people listen. When others see our tears, they move mountains to save us. When we call the police, unarmed Black people are all too often hurt or killed.

So, I was alarmed last Tuesday morning when I saw my Facebook timeline filled with expressions of outrage by white people directed at the Black Lives Matter movement.

The night before, graffiti had been spray-painted on three locations in Memphis — the wall in front of Graceland, the I…

MLK50 Memphis

A nonprofit newsroom focused on poverty, power and public policy in Memphis. Inspired by MLK. mlk50@mlk50.com or 901.633.3638. @MLK50Memphis

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