Tag Archives: Free Press

Journalist Manuel Duran Ortega Still Being Held By ICE – Sign the Petition

Manuel Duran Ortega


Sign Now: Demand the release of journalist Manuel Duran Ortega!

By Demand Progress.

From the petition page:

Manuel Duran Ortega―founder of Memphis Noticias, a Spanish-language publication in Memphis, Tennessee―was arrested in April for disorderly conduct and obstructing traffic while covering a local protest. Duran Ortega was one of several journalists covering the protest, was wearing his press badge, and yet was the only journalist arrested.

Two days later, the Memphis Police Department dropped the charges against him. But instead of releasing Duran Ortega, Memphis officials turned him over to ICE. He was subsequently transferred to a detention center in Louisiana―separated from his family in Memphis.

Manuel Duran Ortega should never have been taken by ICE.

His attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center alleges that Duran Ortega was targeted by local police in retaliation for his critical reporting. In a petition to the court, Duran’s attorneys state that:

“Detention of Mr. Duran Ortega is a direct result of Memphis law enforcement officers’ and ICE officers’ illegal and unconstitutional actions in targeting, arresting, detaining, and seeking to deport Mr. Duran Ortega. MPD [Memphis Police Department] unlawfully arrested Mr. Duran Ortega to silence and retaliate against him.”

An attack on journalists is an attack on our First Amendment rights! Sign the petition and demand the immediate release of Memphis journalist Manuel Duran Ortega.

Manuel is being represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center, and this petition is co-sponsored by Daily Kos, PEN America, Demand Progress, Million Hoodies Movement for Justice, Progress America, Progressive Democrats of America, RootsAction.org, United We Dream Action, and Reporters Without Borders.

Here is a press release by Free Press with more information.

A letter signed by 28 different organizations, was sent to Mr. David D. Rivera, Director of the New Orleans Field Office at U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, way back on May 18, 2018.

From the letter:

We, the undersigned organizations, are calling for the immediate release of unjustly detained journalist Manuel Duran Ortega.

As organizations advocating for press freedom, immigrant rights and racial justice, we are outraged by Duran’s arrest and detainment, which are in direct violation of the First Amendment.

Duran is a well-known and respected journalist in Memphis. He is also an undocumented immigrant who fled El Salvador over a decade ago — where he worked as a TV station manager — after his life was threatened…

The Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing Duran, and the Latino community in Memphis believe Duran is being targeted because of his critical coverage of the city’s police department and Department of Homeland Security. He wrote stories about police abuse and misconduct, immigration detention centers and coordination between Memphis police and ICE.

Newspapers such as The Nashville Tennessean and The Memphis Commercial Appeal have also denounced his arrest and detention.

We do as well. The First Amendment guarantees a free press. That means that reporters like Duran can’t be subject to censorship by the government, nor can government use any measures to prevent the expression of ideas before they are published, or to punish reporters for doing their job. Prior restraint by any official means is clearly unconstitutional.

We are calling on ICE to release Manuel Duran Ortega immediately. The unlawful arrest of Duran violates his First Amendment rights and is an attack on press freedom in our country.


Joseph Torres, Free Press

Faiz Shakir, American Civil Liberties Union

Chris Faraone, Boston Institute for Nonprofit Journalism

Mike Katz, Lacabe Center for Human Rights and Privacy

Steven Renderos, Center for Media Justice

Brandi Collins-Dexter, Color Of Change

Sue Udry, Defending Rights and Dissent

Shannon Soper, Dignity and Power Now

Colin Kinniburgh, Dissent Magazine

Janine Jackson, Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting

Joy Hyvarinen, Index on Censorship

Matt DeRienzo, Local Independent Online News Publishers (LION)

Tracy Rosenberg, Media Alliance

George Freeman, Media Law Resource Center

Bryan Mercer, Media Mobilizing Project

Monika Bauerlein, Mother Jones

Christopher Finan, National Coalition Against Censorship

Carmen Scurato, National Hispanic Media Coalition

Suzanne Nossel, PEN America

Lark Corbeil, Public News Service

Margaux Ewen, Reporters Without Borders North America

Rebecca Baker, Society for Professional Journalists

Julie Winokur, Talking Eyes Media

Brian Dolinar, Urbana-Champaign Independent Media Center

Pali Makam, WITNESS

David A. Goodman, Writers Guild of America, West