MEMPHIS, Tenn. (localmemphis.com) – A large turnout Friday to welcome home Memphis journalist Manuel Duran, who was held in Ice custody for 465 days.
Tennessee’s Poor People’s campaign and other local organizations joined this evening for vigils happening across the country, to raise awareness about immigration issues. Since Duran’s release, organizers decided to also use Friday’s vigil to honor him.
Duran did not attend Friday’s vigil, but his fiancé, Melisa Valdez did. She painted a picture of what those 465 days were like for him and she says they weren’t easy.
“In Etowah, Manuel and the other inmates in unit 10 had to shower with cold water for about a month because the showers were down,” Valdez said.
Valdez and roughly 100 other people gathered in front of immigration court offices in downtown Memphis to stand in solidarity.
“We claim to be a country that is extremely powerful and resourceful for things we care about and this is American values, we should act that way,” said Mauricio Calvo, Executive Director of Latino Memphis.
Across the country, local immigration rights activists held vigils to show another side of the immigration debate and here in Memphis to celebrate the return of their friend knowing the fight is far from over.
“We hope that Manuel’s case will highlight it is possible but at the same time we know so many other times people don’t have the clout that he had being a journalist and having a strong legal team and other things that some people don’t have access to,” Calvo explained.
Friday’s event included demonstrations to reveal conditions current immigrants are facing. Duran’s fiancé gave us a glimpse of what he experienced.
“They would wake up in the middle of the night because the heater had been turned on in the Summer for no reason. Images in Etowah are not allowed to go outside,” Valdez said.
Duran’s Attorney says she is filing for asylum protection on behalf of her client. Local 24 News will keep you updated on Duran’s next court appearance.