Civil Rights

"This is a huge obstacle that has been put in front of us," said Dawn Harrington, executive director of Free Hearts, an organization that helps families navigate incarceration. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Restoring voting rights after a felony is rare in Tennessee. This year, the process got harder.

BY: - December 7, 2023

Janiqua Thompson was in her early 20s when she began stealing from the hotel she worked for. Her motivation was to catch up on bills to support her mother and three younger brothers, but her felony conviction only added more financial strain. She spent a day in jail and three years on probation, faced $20,000 […]

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Tennessee AG leads multi-state fight against federal protections for LGBTQ foster youth

BY: - November 29, 2023

Tennessee Attorney General Jonathan Skrmetti is leading a coalition of 17 states in fighting a proposed federal rule intended to give LGBTQ kids greater protections in foster care. The proposed rule reflects misguided federal policy, illegally intrudes on state authority and risks violating the free speech and religion rights of foster parents and organizations that […]

Screen grab of Commissioner Margie Quin of the Tennessee Department of Children's Services addressing the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday, Jan.30. Department of Finance and Administration Dave Thurman and DCS Chief of Staff Andy Verenski are seated to her right.

Lawsuit charges Tennessee Department of Children’s Services violated kids’ constitutional rights

BY: - November 8, 2023

Two teenage boys with disabilities were denied their regular medications and allowed to suffer assaults while being held in a Department of Children’s Services lockup for troubled youth, according to a lawsuit making sweeping claims that Tennessee has violated federal and state law — and children’s constitutional rights. The lawsuit, filed last week in a […]

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Chattanooga enters three-year consent decree with feds over disability, housing discrimination

BY: - November 7, 2023

The city of Chattanooga has entered into a three-year consent decree with the federal government following allegations that public officials discriminated against people with disabilities, violated federal civil rights law and the federal Fair Housing Act.  Under the rules of the agreement entered in federal court Monday, Chattanooga has 60 days to submit proposed changes […]

A woman holds a sign during a legislative debate over gender-affirming care for minors in Feb. 2023. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Families of Tennessee transgender children petition U.S. Supreme Court to overturn ruling on care

BY: - November 1, 2023

A trio of Tennessee parents, their transgender children and a Memphis doctor have petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn a federal appeals court decision that has allowed a new state law banning gender affirming care for minors to take effect. Tennessee lawmakers earlier this year enacted a law that bars transgender youth from receiving […]

Deonte Williams sits in a courtroom at the Coffee County Justice Center next to one of his five children, all of whom were taken by the Tennessee Department of Children's Services after a traffic stop. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Georgia man seeks to dissolve ban on sharing footage from Coffee County traffic stop

BY: - October 17, 2023

A Georgia man is seeking to dissolve an order barring him from publicly sharing unredacted dash and body-cam footage of a misdemeanor traffic stop that resulted in all five of his young children being sent to foster care for nearly two months. The unusual order issued late last month by Coffee County General Sessions Judge […]

Tennessee State University President Glenda Glover and Vice President of the United States Kamala Harris smile at each other during TSU's commencement in May 2022. (Photo: John Partipilo)

States urged by Biden administration to rectify underfunding of land-grant HBCUs 

BY: - September 19, 2023

States engaged in decades of underfunding of land-grant Historically Black Colleges and Universities, leading to a more than $12 billion disparity with comparable white institutions, leaders of the U.S. Department of Education and U.S. Department of Agriculture said on Monday. “Unacceptable funding inequities have forced many of our nation’s distinguished Historically Black Colleges and Universities […]

Lawrence County Sheriff's Deputy Eric Caperton, left, and investigator Zach Ferguson, are on leave following their indictment on federal civil rights charges. (Photo: Lawrence County Sheriff's Office Facebook page)

Continuance filed in Lawrence County federal civil rights case

BY: - August 28, 2023

Two Lawrence County officers who have been indicted on five counts of federal civil rights and obstruction charges are asking for a continuance in their case, which came after the two allegedly slammed a 61-year-old man to the ground during an October 2020 traffic stop. Sheriff’s Investigator Zach Ferguson and Deputy Eric Caperton are scheduled […]

Jennifer Watson holds up a sign of the type that was banned during an Aug. 2021 special legislative session. (Photo: John Partipilo)

Judge issues injunction against Tennessee House, barring enforcement of sign ban

BY: - August 23, 2023

Davidson County Chancery Court Judge Anne Martin issued a restraining order on Wednesday, barring the Tennessee House of Representatives from enforcing a rule banning signs during the special session on public safety. A temporary injunction hearing has been set to hear the ACLU lawsuit on Sept. 5. The ACLU of Tennessee, representing three women ejected […]

Grass and weeds grow just outside the doors of West Gaines School in Lawrence County. A group is raising money to restore the relic of Tennessee's segregated era and turn it into a museum. (Photo: Lonnie Lee Hood)

Lawrence County group working to save historic segregated school building

BY: - August 7, 2023

In parts of 410 West Gaines Street in Lawrenceburg, Tennessee, sunlight and rainwater poured through holes in the roof, unchecked for years — until a new blue roof tarp was placed over the July 30 weekend. Moss and grass still grow over portions of the wooden floorboards, and broken tiles hang from the ceiling. While […]

U.S. Attorney General Merrick Garland speaks during an event at the Justice Department on June 15, 2021. Photo by Win McNamee | Getty Images

Department of Justice opens civil rights probe of Memphis after Tyre Nichols death case

BY: and - July 27, 2023

The U.S. Department of Justice initiated a civil rights investigation Thursday of the city of Memphis and Memphis Police Department stemming in part from the death of Tyre Nichols, who died in January after being beaten by police officers during a traffic stop. “Public safety requires public trust in police officers,” said U.S. Attorney Kevin […]

The Tennessee Supreme Court Building in Nashville, Tennessee, is the historic building that houses the Tennessee Supreme Court offices and where the court meets when it is in session in Nashville. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2014. (Getty Images)

Tennessee raises bar to restore voting rights for those with felony convictions

BY: - July 27, 2023

Tennessee residents who have felony convictions and want to vote must comply with two state laws rather than one or the other, according to guidance from the state coordinator of elections. Beginning last Friday, they now must obtain a pardon or have all citizenship rights restored, and show they have paid all restitution and court […]