The Memphis journalist arrested by local police while covering a protest April 3, 2018, then snapped up by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement as he left jail, made bond this morning.
Manuel Duran is expected to be released from an Alabama detention center today.
“ICE has set a bond for Manuel and we paid it. We are in our way to Alabama to bring him back home,” his fiancee Melisa Valdez posted on the Free Manuel Duran Facebook page.
Andrea Morales, visuals director for MLK50: Justice Through Journalism is en route to the detention center and will be there when Manuel walks out.
Duran, founder of the Spanish-language publication Memphis Noticias, has been detained since his arrest last year. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals gave Duran’s case a boost earlier this year when judges sent his case back to the Board of Immigration Appeals to consider how dangerous it is to be a journalist in his home country of El Salvador. He left El Salvador in 2006 after he received death threats as a result of his reporting, which focused on corruption within the police and judicial systems.
On Tuesday, the court ordered his case reopened.
“I have received so much bad news during this process, and this is the first good news,” Duran said in a statement released by SPLC.
The April 3, 2018 arrest
Manuel’s arrest occurred during an immigration detention protest outside the Shelby County Criminal Justice Center the day before the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s assassination.
Organized by Communidades Unidas en Una Voz, the chain-gang demonstration was street theater to call attention to the uptick in ICE raids and arrests of undocumented migrants in the area.
C.U.U.V. organizer Yuleiny Escobar led a makeshift chain gang of demonstrators, some wearing prison-style garments, through a pedestrian crosswalk on Poplar. The chain gang shuffled behind Bill Stegall, who was dressed as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent.
“We know that you illegally hold people for more than 48 hours,” Escobar shouted in the direction of the justice center. “We know that you hold them until ICE can come and get them!”
The first protestor to be arrested was Keedran Franklin of the Coalition of Concerned Citizens, also known as C3. Officers pulled him out of the crosswalk in front of the justice at 201 Poplar. Escobar was next. (Stegall was also arrested.)
Three other demonstrators were arrested in the immediate scuffle that followed, along with Duran, who was reporting at the time.
The Coalition of Concerned Citizens, or C3, Memphis activists who demonstrate for economic justice issues, joined C.U.U.V. at the justice center after their own demonstration on Tchulahoma Road, where they shut down traffic in both directions outside the gates of FedEx’s distribution hub.
All those arrested outside the county justice center, except Duran, were quickly released on bond.
The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) has been in contact with Duran’s lawyers.
“Journalists should not be arrested for doing their work,” said CPJ’s North America program coordinator Alexandra Ellerbeck.
“Journalists who are not U.S. citizens or permanent residents may face greater repercussions if they are arrested in the course of their work, as an arrest can have implications for their immigration status or travel to the United States.
“Journalists who are undocumented or have an outstanding deportation order could risk detention. We have also noticed that journalists of color may be more likely to be targeted at protests.”
Micaela Watts and J. Dylan Sandifer contributed to this story.
This story is brought to you by MLK50: Justice Through Journalism, a nonprofit reporting project on economic justice in Memphis. Support independent journalism by making a tax-deductible donation today. MLK50 is also supported by the Surdna Foundation, the Southern Documentary Project and Community Change.