By Jon Wolfe
and Clint Confehr
WEST END — Protests continue against White House orders as demonstrators near offices of Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander on Sunday chanted slogans for immigrants and against a Mexican border wall.
“No ban, no wall; come for one, come for all,” was shouted by organizers, including Bobbi Lynn Negron, who said she jumped on a car to avoid being hit while serving as a crossing guard. Police call the driver a victim; protestors “pounded” his windows.
A day later, Corinthian Missionary Baptist Church Pastor Enoch Fuzz said he’s “concerned about protestors not using their energies to mobilize the power of the voting booth.” Apathy let “people who don’t think like us to get in office.”
Republican Congressman Marsha Blackburn of Brentwood said temporarily suspending refugee admissions is “responsible” and “proper voting protocols” should be developed… The president’s executive order is a security test, not a religious one.”
Alexander said, “While not explicitly a religious test, it comes close to one which is inconsistent with our American character.”
Lee Chapel’s pastor, state Rep. Harold Love Jr., supports the protest message, noting no property damage by demonstrators “outside the offices of people… who have authority to change… policy and… address… illegal immigration. I’ve tried to… bring conversations about the security of our nation, how to protect our people, and respect religion and ethnicity.” Elsewhere during the protest, he advocated General Hospital funding.
Sunday night, American Civil Liberties Union of Tennessee executive director Hedy Weinberg criticized White House targeting of Muslims for extreme vetting: “We are not a country… built on religious litmus tests… Islamophobic efforts… trample our fundamental American values of religious freedom and equality.” The ACLU stands “with our Muslim friends, neighbors and colleagues… born here or abroad.”
Facing nearly 1,500 people Sunday afternoon, state Sen. Jeff Yarbro, D-Nashville, said the president “has been trying to change what America is about.”
Mayor Megan Barry said, “America is stronger and better when we have each others’ back, and we have each other’s back in Nashville.”
State law, Barry spokesman Sean Braisted said, “prevents local governments from being ‘sanctuary cities,’ but our police do not enforce federal administrative immigration policies and do not intend to start.”
Corker and Alexander called the order “confusing.” It was “poorly implemented,” said Corker, calling for “revisions.” Alexander said it “seems to ban legal, permanent residents with ‘green cards,’ and might turn away Iraqis… who were translators and helped save lives of American troops and who could be killed if they stay in Iraq.”
Congressmen Jim Cooper of Nashville and Steve Cohen of Memphis are cosponsoring legislation to reverse the orders. A Kurdish family bound for Nashville on special visas was sent back to the Middle East after years of intense vetting, said Cooper, who’s helping them. The father was a translator for a U.S. government contractor. Cohen said detaining foreign nationals risking their lives for freedom puts America and its troops at risk. “This hasty and unsound executive order will provide ISIS with additional propaganda.”
The Statue of Liberty Values Act would prohibit federal spending to implement the order that: bars Syrian refugees from entering the U.S.; suspends refugee admissions for 120 days; and for 90 days blocks citizens of Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.
Meanwhile, a federal judge blocked deportation of Muslims in U.S. airports after the order; the Justice Department’s acting attorney general warned employees against defending the president’s order against lawsuits; and, she was fired.
After the West End traffic incident, police said a husband, 68, and wife, 70, in an SUV reported they: saw a clear road; turned to Murphy Avenue; were surrounded by people beating vehicle windows; were afraid; tried to escape; saw six people jump on the hood; and drove to a gas station. No charge was filed. Police heard aggressive statements from onlookers and protected the driver in a squad car. Activists said people were in the road before the SUV went through the crowd without slowing, so people tried to stop the car, some jumping on the hood when the man drove to “to get away,” police reported.