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VIDEO: Trae Crowder Dismantles TN GOP Senate Candidate Bill Hagerty

Some HIGHLIGHTS of the great Trae Crowder’s glorious TAKEDOWN of TN GOP Senate candidate Bill Hagerty’s entirely predictable, disingenuous pandering. His opponent: Iraq War Veteran James Mackler.

 

The ICE-Man Cometh: The Disturbing History Of ICE Agent Bradley Epley

The ICE-MAN COMETH:

The Disturbing History of Bradley Epley, an ICE Agent Involved in the Shooting of Jose Fernando Andrade-Sanchez, an Undocumented Man in Tennessee

By Alexandria Huff

This Post was first seen in Die Barliner – The Bard College Student Blog

As activists around the United States mobilize against the unacceptable conditions inside of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) detention facilities, the agency continues its operations on the ground in American cities. On September 5th, Immigration and Customs Enforcement officers shot Jose Fernando Andrade-Sanchez in his car as he attempted to leave the Food Lion parking lot in Antioch, Tennessee, a suburb of Nashville.

The shooting, which occurred in broad daylight at a heavily trafficked intersection, left the 39-year-old Mexican man alive but with bullet wounds in his stomach and his elbow that required surgery at a Nashville area hospital. At the end of the day on September 6th, local students were so disoriented that their teachers rode home with them on the school bus. “There was such a concern and fear in the community because children didn’t know what they were coming back to [after the shooting]. And it’s all because of this one ICE agent who has no accountability to anybody,” Brenda Perez of The MIX, said in an interview with Democracy Now.

Bradley Thomas Epley, a 49-year-old former Border Patrol officer, was one of the two Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents present in the Food Lion parking lot on September 5th. Though ICE spokesperson Brian Cox told reporters that Andrade-Sanchez drove towards the officer as he fled the scene, video footage shows an agent drawing his gun and following the vehicle, and firing two shots through the windshield.

A closer look at Bradley Epley’s history as an Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agent reveals allegations of illegal activity, violence and at least two cases of mistaken identity. Epley was named in two federal lawsuits alleging illegal search and seizure in 2010. Both lawsuits were settled out of court.

In 2017, Epley arrested Faustino Rodriguez Hernandez in a Nashville courthouse on federal immigration charges. Hernandez had appeared in court that day to settle a traffic violation. In July of 2019, Epley was in the news again when he and another ICE official attempted a warrantless arrest of a Hendersonville man and were blocked by a human chain of the man’s neighbors. Many Americans, including some politicians (after being pressured by directly affected communities), are seeking to abolish ICE. The cruelty and incompetence of the agency is illustrated by taking a closer look at the public record of an agent like Bradley Epley.

The first federal lawsuit in which Bradley Epley appears was brought by David Tapia-Tovar and Ana Maria Vazquez. Epley was named as one of several ICE officers who forced their way into Tapia-Tovar’s home, grabbed him by the arm and forced him into his living room as other officers then searched the house without a warrant. A complaint filed on Tapia-Tovar and Vazquez’s behalf in Nashville district court reveals that not only did the ICE officers force their way into Tapia-Tovar’s home without a warrant, but that Tapia-Tovar was not the intended target of the search:

53. As he sat handcuffed on the couch, David asked the first ICE agent why he and the others had entered their home.

54. In reply, one ICE agent held a file folder a few feet in front of David’s face. Attached to the front of the folder was a large photograph of a man of Latino appearance.

55. The man in the photograph bore no resemblance to David. His skin was darker, his nose was wider, and his eyes were set differently.

56. No reasonable person could mistake the man in the photograph for David.

57. Printed on the cover of the ICE folder was the name “David Tovar-Najera.”

58. David and Anna had never known or even heard of a person named David Tovar-Najera before this encounter. [*1]

Tapia-Tovar, an undocumented immigrant, was removed from his home and taken to the ICE office where deportation proceedings were initiated. His complaint alleges that Epley lied to the immigration court about how ICE agents were able to enter Tapia-Tovar’s home. Epley also stated that “[Tapia-Tovar] had entered the United States at an unknown time of day and at an unknown location,” which is the “policy and practice of the Nashville ICE Office…when completing ICE database processing of suspected aliens ICE agents encounter,” the complaint states. The lawsuit calls Epley’s statement “[another] utter and transparent fabrication.” The lawsuit, which was filed by Ozment Law, was settled out of court.

The second lawsuit Epley appeared in that year was filed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on behalf of fifteen plaintiffs, including American citizens, who lived at the Claremont Apartments in South Nashville. They were illegally detained by Epley and other officers when they raided the complex without a warranton October 20, 2010, leading to the arrest of twenty people. Lindsay Kee of the ACLU of Tennessee described the scene:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agents began hitting objects against the bedroom windows, trying to break in. Without a search warrant and without consent, the ICE agents eventually knocked in the front door and shattered a window, shouting racial slurs and storming into the bedrooms, holding guns to some people’s heads. When asked if they had a warrant, one agent reportedly said, “We don’t need a warrant, we’re ICE,” and, gesturing to his genitals, “the warrant is coming out of my balls.” [*2]

The lawsuit alleged that Epley and the other ICE officers at the Clairmont Apartments physically and verbally abused the plaintiffs, including pointing guns at the heads of two men, Jesus Villalobos and Javier Deras. The city and federal government settled the lawsuit for $310,000.

Whether Epley or the other agents cited in these lawsuits were punished by Immigration and Customs Enforcement is unknown.

In June 2017, in the months following Donald Trump’s inauguration, Bradley Epley arrested 33-year-old Faustino Rodriguez Hernandez in a Nashville courthouse. Hernandez is an Hounduran man who was in the court of General Sessions Judge Lynda Jones for a traffic violation; he had been caught driving without a license. The ICE officials on site took him into custody on an ICE warrant, which was not signed by a judge and doesn’t allow court officers to detain an individual on ICE’s behalf. Assistant Public Defender Mary Kathryn Harcombe told The Tennessean that court employees typically don’t understand the distinction between an ICE warrant and a standard warrant and might have illegally detained Hernandez, who was handed over to Epley while Judge Jones was out of the room. In an admission to The Tennessean via email, Judge Lynda Jones said that Epley nearly arrested the wrong man earlier that day: “The agent [Epley] informed my court officer that the true warranted individual was the ‘spittin image’ of the gentleman who was almost wrongfully arrested. My court officer stated that the ICE agent then said, ‘TRUST ME.’”

On the morning of July 22, 2019, Epley and another officer arrived in the Nashville suburb of Hermitage in a white pickup truck, and pulled into the driveway of an unnamed family home, blocking a van that the man and his son were sitting in. The man and his son locked themselves in their car to avoid the ICE agents, initiating a four-hour-long standoff. The Nashville Scene reports that more than a dozen of the man’s neighbors, as well as local immigrant rights activists, gathered in the front yard with snacks, water, cool towels to fight against the heat and gas to keep the van running. Like the warrant Epley brought to the Nashville courthouse, the warrant on July 22 had not been signed by a judge and did not allow officers to forcibly enter the man’s car or home. The MIX reports that at one point the father and son were told by an ICE agent, “We’ll just call the cops and they’ll arrest you, and then when they’re done with you in the jail, then we’ll get you.” Metro Nashville Police Department (MNPD) officers were on the scene during the standoff.

Eventually the man’s neighbors made a human chain so he and his son could safely exit the car and re-enter their home. By 10 AM, Epley, his fellow officer, and the MNPD left the scene. The attempted arrest was conducted as a part of President Trump’s Operation Border Resolve, which targeted 2,000 families and resulted in 35 arrests. Local resident Angela Glass told the Scene, “These people, they’ve been living there for 14 years,” Glass says. “They don’t bother anybody. Our kids play with their kids. It’s just one big community. And we don’t want to see anything happen to them. They’re good people. They’ve been here 14 years, leave them alone.”

On 17 September, 2019, less than a month after being shot by Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, Jose Fernando Andrade-Sanchez was arrested outside Ozment Law, an  immigration law office in Nashville, Tennessee. Ozment Law, which in twenty years has never had an enforcement operation conducted on its property, said in a statement:

“Immigration agents’ decision to make a violent, aggressive arrest on a law firm’s private property sends a chilling message that even those with valid claims to adjusting their status and continuing their lives in this country are at risk.”

Andrade-Sanchez, who has previously been deported, has been charged with illegal reentry into the United States.

The record of Bradley Epley illustrates how Immigration and Customs Enforcement, aided by the Metro Nashville Police Department and Davidson County Sheriff Daron Hall, has terrorized the Middle Tennessee community for over a decade, traumatizing individuals and families. Increased scrutiny of Immigration and Customs Enforcement under the Trump administration has caused some Americans to boycott companies like Amazon that provide ICE with facial recognition technology, to call for the immediate abolition of the agency, and to demand that 2020 Democratic Presidential Candidates make the abolition of ICE a part of their 2020 platform.

A week after the shooting of Jose Fernando Andrade-Sanchez, theNashville Scene published a two-piece cover package on the deportation pipeline. As the MIX’s Brenda Perez pointed out on Facebook, “I’m glad the Nashville Scene is covering this, I will be more enthused when they center and interview undocumented people on issues that affect us. We have been here and our daily lives are the front lines.”

Bradley Epley is still employed by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency. He lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee.

Notes:

[*1] http://www.lawreport.org/pdf/ICETennessee.pdf

[*2] https://www.aclu.org/blog/we-dont-need-warrant-were-ice

VIDEO: From the Front Lines of the UAW Strike In Spring Hill

“We appreciate the support. We’re in it for the long haul. We’re gonna fight the good fight.” ‬

‪Striking UAW Local 1853 workers in Spring Hill, TN say the middle class is disappearing, it’s the haves and have-nots… and GM wants to keep it that way.

Yesterday some were arrested on the picket lines for “disorderly conduct”, including UAW president Tim Stannard. They are out of jail, but the DA says he will be pressing charges.

Meanwhile GM has CUT OFF the health benefits of the striking workers, another reminder that health care should be a RIGHT in this country, not a privilege bestowed upon us by the wealthy who can dangle our lives in front of us.

Maury County Mayor Andy Ogles was out there saying he wants their health coverage restored, but it’s worth remembering Ogles was a leader of Americans for Prosperity, the Koch-backed organization that helped block Medicaid expansion in Tennessee, keeping 300,000 without coverage. Suddenly he cares about folks being able to see doctors?

#UnionStrong #StandWithUAW ‬

VIDEO: Senator Kerry Roberts Wants to “Get Rid” of Higher Education in America

In response to passionate abortion ban hearing testimony from Cherisse Scott of Sister Reach – a pro-reproductive freedom witness who called Republican legislators to account for failing to expand medicaid, raise the wage to a living wage, support public education, and other public policies that should be supported by anyone who is truly “pro-life” –  State Senator Kerry Roberts called for ending higher education in Tennessee on his radio show.

Presumably because that’s where Cherisse and others learn to support policy positions Roberts opposes. Yes, he lays abortion squarely at the feet of Tennessee’s colleges.

As a reminder, Cherisse was gaveled out and cut off by chairman Mike Bell, who allowed others to go much longer and finish their testimony, including anti-abortion advocate who says he “remembers being born”.

Watch and Share, and feel free to holler at Senator Roberts HERE.

 

VIDEO: REP. CEPICKY & SEN. HENSLEY SCHOOLED ON MEDICAID EXPANSION

At a town hall in Maury County yesterday a local man named Greg Heller, who asked Rep. Scott Cepicky and Senator Joey Hensley why the TN GOP continues to block medicaid expansion and let Tennesseans die unnecessarily when expanding medicaid would cost the state nothing, and we lose $1.4 Billion every single year we don’t do it.

Tennessee is at the bottom in health care access, opioid deaths, infant mortality rates, the list goes on… we’re #1 in rural hospital closures per capita and medical bankruptcies. Medicaid Expansion would help all of it, and cost us nothing.

Also, important to remember – Cepicky says they want to “proceed with caution” when it comes to federal dollars, but TENNESSEE IS ALREADY ONE OF THE MOST FEDERALLY DEPENDENT STATES at 36% of the state budget. Do he and the TN GOP want to give that money back?

HOLLER AT YOUR REPS and tell them Greg’s right – there’s no excuse. Expand Medicaid.

The Beacon Center Tried to “Fact-Check” The Holler. It Did Not end Well For Them.

Something happened on Twitter today, and we felt the need to share it with the rest of Tennessee, in case anyone missed it.

The Beacon Center, a think tank/state policy group with ties to ALEC, which imposes union-busting, environment hurting, middle class-killing model legislation on the entire country on a regular basis, and the Koch brothers, who have done more damage to this planet and played an enormous role in our skyrocketing wealth inequality  –  appears to be quite infatuated with us here at the Holler.

First there was their podcast episode a few months back, in which they spent a good amount of time talking about us, seeming to concede that it was good to have a voice in Tennessee to present the other side of the narrative they’ve been pushing for years – a narrative in support of our current GOP supermajority, which touts our “fiscal conservatism” and “fiscal stability” while gleefully ignoring the fact that we’re #1 in rural hospital closures per capita, #1 in medical bankruptcies, at the bottom in infant mortality, opioid deaths, health care access, per pupil spending, the list goes on.

Recently we pointed out that while the Beacon Center and the politicians they control regularly vilify the “federal government” and paint it as a boogie monster, Tennessee is actually very dependent on that boogie monster. In fact, according to Governor Lee’s own budget, Tennessee gets nearly 40% of its budget from federal funding (39.9% in 2014, 37% in 2018, 36% in 2020).

Yes, “fiscally stable” Tennessee is one of the most dependent states in the union, which means we are VERY good at managing other people’s money.

Don’t take it from us, take it from the Nashville Business journal, or Knoxville News.

A simple Google search should’ve turned those up, but the Beacon Center appears to have a hard time believing this reality, and seized upon that tweet of ours last week which included a study that said exactly what those others have said.

Stephanie Whitt, whose Twitter bio calls her an “EVP” at the Beacon Center (right next to the extremely overused words “individual freedom and liberty”, which never seem to apply to the freedom to marry whoever you choose, or control your own reproductive fate, or use medical marijuana to ease your pain… it’s only “freedom” when it’s stuff they like… but we digress…)

Stephanie took it upon herself to sit down and “fact check” the study we posted, a study that lined up with all other available information, and attempt to “debunk” the notion that Tennessee is one of the most dependent states.

Stephanie declared:

“This study is not only misleading in the way it calculates federal dependency. It’s just plain wrong. Here are the reasons why.”

Her argument included 3 bullet points, leading off with the notion that for some reason we shouldn’t use percentages when calculating dependency, we should use total budget:

“The study calculates dependency based on a percentage of a state’s budget. Basically, this means that because Tennessee has less revenue (see lower taxes), it will appear to take more federal dollars if the study is just based on a percentage of that state’s budget. This means a state taking more federal money (California cough cough), but taxing their residents at a much higher rate would score “better” than a low tax state taking the same amount or less federal money.”

Um, yes, Stephanie. This is how percentages work. The more federal funds we take in relative to our own dollars, the higher the dependency. How this can be presented as a “reason” the study is wrong does not become clear until point 2, which is really one for the ages:

“Dollar for dollar, Tennessee is nowhere near the top of the list taking federal tax dollars. California for example receives $436 billion in total revenue from the federal government vs. Tennessee’s $76 billion.”

Stephanie is already way off the rails here. She ignores 2 very important points: That California PUTS IN much more than we do, and that California has MILLIONS MORE PEOPLE than we do.

The idea that “total revenue” is a better measure of dependency than looking at the amount we put in vs. the amount we take out defies logic: If the federal government were to stop sending money to Tennessee, Tennessee would have a 36%-sized hole blown in its budget. That’s what dependency looks like.

The same is not true for California, which puts in more than it takes out.

This is not going well for Stephanie.

She goes on to point 3, her final point, the big finish:

“The Rockefeller Institute of Government published a report in January 2019 titled “Giving or Getting? New York’s Balance of Payments with the Federal Government,” which shows what states give to the federal government versus what they receive. If you remove grants, contracts, and federal employee wages (like TVA employees) from the equation to get a true calculation of what Tennessee gives vs. what it receives, it shows we give virtually the same amount in tax dollars per capita as we receive back ($7,764 paid per capita and receives $7,807). We definitely pay our fair share and receive a fair share of our tax dollars back from the federal government for Tennessee residents.”

Wait – what? If you REMOVE grants, contracts, TVA employees… you get a “TRUE CALCULATION”?

So we should ignore all the ways Tennessee benefits from the federal government, the impact of the TVA and other federal government programs on our state, and that will paint a “TRUER” picture of how Tennessee does or doesn’t depend on the federal government?

This appears to be what the Beacon Center spends all day doing – finding ways to spin actual numbers and facts to fit a perverted view of how the world works so they can feel better about doing everything they can to keep government from helping the people who actually need it.

Their argument about dependency is so deeply flawed one can only imagine they actually believe it.

It would be almost funny if it wasn’t so damn sad. Tennessee is in bad shape. We have a rural health care crisis raging on, but instead of expanding medicaid and covering 300,000 Tennesseans while helping to fight the opioid crisis that’s ravaging our state, and keeping the lights on in some of these rural hospitals that are closing unnecessarily – mostly in non-expansion states – the Beacon center is lying to themselves about the uselessness of percentages and pretending we don’t rely far more on the federal government to survive than we do.

Their superpower appears to be creating an alternate universe for themselves in which Tennessee is thriving, and every county is Williamson County. We’d humbly suggest that they should take a drive into the rural parts of the state once in a while – and they will see that is very much not the case.

We need to expand Medicaid. We’ve lost $7 billion and counting.

But more importantly, people like Stephanie and her pals at the Beacon center need to take a long look in the mirror, realize that this isn’t a damn game and that people are actually being harmed by their policies… and go back and take a few math classes while they’re at it.

Also, keep following us. Maybe you’ll learn something.

Senator Reeves, The #1 TN Opioid Pills Distributor, Admitted He Makes Laws to Benefit His Business (And Opposes Medical Marijuana)

With Senator Marsha Blackburn helping to keep the money-spigot turned on for Big Pharma by making it harder for the DEA to fight the opioid crisis, a federal database recently found a pharmacy in Murfreesboro owned by state Sen. Shane Reeves sold 46 million pills over six years, distributing the most opioid pills in Tennessee BY FAR, with no close second.

Reeves initially said he wasn’t surprised, but now his company TwelveStone is demanding a recount, so it’s worth remembering that during his campaign Reeves came out durinn a Pharmacy Podcast Network interview and openly said he told his company partners that he’s running for office because being a state senator would be good for his company in two areas: “Public Policy and Networking”

Yes, Reeves comes right out and says the quiet part out loud – that from his position at state senator he’ll be able to help his own company, Twelvestone. Here’s the quote, and you can hear it for yourself in the video below:

“One [way TwelveStone will benefit is] obviously public policy, trying to drive and make a difference in the issues that are impacting pharmacy and healthcare so much in business. The second thing is business development growth and networking. Clearly as a state senator I’m going to meet a lot of people which can help for the company — anytime someone looks up Shane Reeves, they’re going to see TwelveStone.” 

Again- Reeves is literally reassuring his own partners that by running for state senate he can influence the regulations that govern his industry and promote the company through his position.

And he has been doing it.

The list of bills Reeves has sponsored includes a number of bills related to the pharmacy industry in which he works.

As TwelveStone shovels pills out by the millions, Tennessee is one of the few states in which opioid death tolls are still going up even as states around us see theirs going down. We’re also far behind the overall trend of dropping opioid addiction numbers, which studies show is very clearly tied to our unwillingness to expand Medicaid – which Reeves does not support.

Importantly, he is also one of the voices against Tennessee passing a law legalizing medical marijuana, which would allow Tennesseans to deal with their pain in a manner other than with the pills his company makes a killing off of.

During his run for the senate against Gayle Jordan, who did support Medical Marijuana, Reeves had this to say on the topic:

“There absolutely are benefits to cannabis, medical marijuana, for people who’ve got cancer, glaucoma, nerve pain and headaches. There are also other ways you can take it other than smoking it. There’s oils, capsules, and I think over the next years we should look at some other options… But right now my answer to medical marijuana is not now.

Sorry Tennesseans suffering from cancer, glaucoma, nerve pain headaches – many of which are veterans, who overwhelmingly support medical marijuana – your pain relief will have to wait, because TwelveStone has money to make.

As the Tennessee Democratic Party said during Reeves’ campaign:

“Shane Reeves loaned his campaign more than $255,000 and raised at least half a million dollars for a job that pays $22,000. Now we know why: In his own words, getting elected would help boost his name recognition and help his pharmaceutical company TwelveStone succeed.”

If you agree Reeves running for state senator to help his own company while helping to block things like Medicaid expansion and Medical Marijuana, which would actually help people, is not a good thing, holler at Senator Reeves HERE.

EXTENDED BYRD APOLOGY

TN Republicans are trying to ignore a motion from Gloria Johnson to expel Byrd at the special session on Friday, so here’s an extended version of him apologizing for what 3 women accuse him of doing to them in high school.

The context is clear as a bell. He did it.

Holler at Speaker Cameron Sexton and tell him to take up Gloria’s motion, and show up Friday to make your voices heard.

rep.cameron.sexton@capitol.tn.gov

INTERVIEW: Francie Hunt of TN Advocates Planned Parenthood and Anna Carella of Healthy And Free TN

Our LIVE INTERVIEW with Francie Hunt of Tennessee Advocates for Planned Parenthood & Anna Carella of Healthy and Free Tennessee!

Talking about women’s reproductive rights, abortion bans and more.

Coffee County GOP Chair Posts Pro-Gun Meme Threatening “Civil War”, Hanging

Coffee County Republican chairman Richard Brooks has posted – and now deleted – a meme on Facebook threatening “civil war” and to “hang corrupted politicians in front of the White House” if any politicians continue to talk about gun control.

Coffee is the same county where controversial DA Craig Northcott – who has been openly Islamophobic and Homophobic and refuses to recognize the authority of the Supreme Court – presides. Brooks has been a vocal supporter of Northcott in the past.

Brooks has removed the post. He owns a gun shop and range in Manchester.

In response to it, the Coffee County Young Republicans have already released a statement to distance themselves from it, saying:

“This post does not reflect the views of the Coffee County Young Republicans. While we share the same goal of promoting conservative values and are a part of the larger GOP organization and an affiliate of the County Party, we maintain a separate executive committee and membership from the County Party.”

We will update this story as it develops.