NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, ON APRIL 26, 2008
                           TO PROTEST THE ABUSE OF YOUTH
                          IN JUVENILE DETENTION CENTERS!

WHAT:  A march and rally in downtown Nashville, to protest the deaths of two children in a Middle Tennessee juvenile detention facility, and the warehousing of over 2,000 children in the state's juvenile facilities, the majority African-American.   We must oppose the mass imprisonment of Black youth in this country!

WHEN:  Saturday, April 26, 2008, from 12:00 noon-3:00pm

WHERE:  Assemble at Bicentennial Park (outside auditorium), near 5th Avenue North and Harrison Street, beginning at  10 a.m. Then march to Legislative Plaza, 5th   Avenue North and Deaderick Street in downtown Nashville. for a rally from 12:30 -3:00 pm.

WHO: This rally is sponsored by Power to the People, a Black, non-profit, grassroots social justice organization, P.O. Box  60251, Nashville, TN. 37206, and the Schools Not Jails Project.


1.Closing down of the Chad Youth Enhancement Center.
2.Public inquests into the deaths of Linda Harris and Omega Leach III by a state grand jury.
3.A criminal investigation by the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation or the U.S. Department of Justice into the homicides of Linda Harris and Omega Leach III, and the arrest and prosecution of any staff people responsible for their deaths.
4.A moratorium on sending out-of-state children to Chad or any Tennessee juvenile institution until these grievous matters are resolved.
5.A moratorium on building juvenile detention centers, more diversion of youth into educational and treatment programs, and more money to schools, not jails.
6.An end to the the over-representation of youth of color into the state juvenile detention system.
7.A Children's Bill of Rights to protect all children in juvenile facilities against abuse.
8.An end to the use of Handle With Care choke-hold techniques in schools, jails, mental treatment and other facilities throughout Tennessee.

For more information, contact:
Power to the People
P.O. Box 60251
Nashville, TN 37206

Please send e-mail replies to


What happened to the children at Tennessee juvenile facilities?

According to a March 3, 2008, Associated Press news story, there were over 13,000 cases of abuse from 2004-2007 at juvenile detention centers nationwide. At facilities operated by Tennessee, there were 502 cases of rape, torture, and other violence, which were recently exposed in the Nashville media's follow-up to the AP story.  After years of cover-up, official and administrative lies, internal whistle-blowers, working with a local newspaper reporter from the Nashville Scene, exposed the brutality, racism,  and corruption at two privately-run youth facilities in Middle Tennessee, Hermitage Hall in Nashville and the Chad Youth Enhancement Center in Ashland City.  For years, these two facilities  have engaged in the serious mistreatment of youth in their care. The series of articles  described numerous cases of abuse and raised the 2005 and 2007 deaths of Linda Harris, 14, and Omega Leach III, 16,  at Chad, whom many observers say were fatally choked by staff.  The deaths at Chad and other  abuses have been attributed to the massive use by the poorly-trained staff of a restraint technique called “Handle With Care” (HWC),whose primary feature is a choke-hold. This controversial restraint technique has caused the deaths of a number of children in juvenile detention centers all over the country.

What are the governor and other Tennessee politicians saying about these deaths?

Nothing. None of the major political figures in the state, from the governor, Phil Bredesen, on down to Nashville Mayor Karl Dean, have said anything about the murders of Linda Harris and Omega Leach III. This silence also includes the state's Black Legislative Caucus, which has yet to speak up and demand that justice be done in these cases. We have sent them information about the cases, but they have taken no action. That is why we are holding a demonstration, to pressure them to take action. Nobody is speaking up for these youth.

What has the local media reported about these cases?

There has been a virtual media blackout by the Nashville and other local press sources. In fact, the Nashville media have reported more on the shooting of a cat and a dog who was kicked to death than they have about the deaths of Linda Harris and Omega Leach III, as if their lives don't matter. Even with continuing efforts by Power to the People, including filing a petition to the Department of Justice asking that it sue state officials for violating the civil rights of  the two black children, and demanding that the State Medical Examiner hold inquests into their deaths, the local media have not deemed the issue news worthy.

We believe  this media blackout is political, a way of suppressing the issue, and keeping the Black community and civil rights groups in the dark.

How have government officials responded to the plans for the protest?

Local and state policies discriminate against poor people who wish to exercise their constitutional right to protest. According to an ordinance of the Metro Nashville/Davidson County government, people who want to conduct a political march on city streets must pay a $1 million insurance policy. If you cannot afford to pay, you are expected to march on the sidewalks. Another $1 million must be paid to the state in order to reserve Legislative Plaza for a  political rally. If you cannot pay, you must compete with other groups who may hold events or rallies at Legislative Plaza at the same time of your event.
These illegal regulations favor well-financed groups or those with the ability to raise large amounts of  funds. In fact, several court decisions around the country have determined that regulations like those of the Metro government and the state of Tennessee have been overturned because they violate the First Amendment.

Metro government officials have ignored Power to the People's request for a waiver from paying the $1 million insurance policy. We will, nevertheless, march in the streets to protest the deaths of Linda Harris and Omega Leach III. Power to the People also requested a waiver from paying $1 million to the state. At their request, we even met with state officials. In a follow-up letter, they said that we may use the Legislative Plaza without paying the $1 million. This means that we cannot reserve the plaza and may face a situation in which our rally will be held at the same time that another event is held. Poor people have just as much of a right to reserve the plaza to exercise our First Amendment rights as do rich people! In our case, we believe that these policies are being enforced because we are protesting the failure of government officials to properly oversee juvenile detention centers in Tennessee.  By insisting on the collective payment of $2 million, the local and state governments apparently have little or no regard for the civil and constitutional rights of poor people. We have  asked the ACLU of Tennessee and other civil liberties groups to assist us, and fully expect to have to go to court to resolve this situation. Meanwhile, the plans for the protest go on.

Is Tennessee still a racist state?

We believe that it is; it is the state after all where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was murdered, and it is the state which produced the Ku Klux Klan. A racist reign of terror produced the deaths of over 50 people in Chattanooga during the 1970's, 1980's and 1990's by local police. There have been suspected Klan lynchings and cross burnings even into the 1980's. Churches and the homes of activists were burned in Knoxville and Chattanooga in the early 1990's, and police brutality has been a problem in Memphis for years.

What is going to happen on April 26, 2008?

We will assemble beginning at 11 a.m. in Bi-Centennial Park in North Nashville, near  5th Avenue North and Harrison Street and then march  at 12 noon from the  park to the State Legislative Plaza in downtown Nashville. There we will hold a 3 hour rally at the State Legislative Plaza. April 26 comes three weeks after the 40th anniversary of the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  in Memphis. We intend to devote part of our program to a recognition of his sacrifice and the fact that Black people are still being subjected to racism and oppression in Tennessee. The rest of the program will include speakers denouncing the state prison system, and the juvenile jails especially.

How can I or my organization support the march and rally?

Power to the People welcomes support from social justice organizations and progressive individuals opposed to the mass imprisonment of black and poor youth. To endorse the march and rally, send an e-mail to Include your name or the name of your organization and the city/state where you are located. We are a small, grassroots non-profit organization, and need financial support to help put on the march and rally. Please send your tax-deductible contribution to Power to the People, P.O. Box 60251, Nashville, TN 37206. We also need attorneys and legal groups to help us sue the Metro/Davidson County government and the state of Tennessee regarding regulations for march permits and political rallies in Legislative Plaza.

How can we find housing in Nashville?

We cannot provide housing for protesters coming to the demonstration, but we can suggest some local hotels where you might be able to book a room:

1.Best Western Downtown, 711 Union St., (615)242-43ll
2.Doubletree Hotel, 315 4th Avenue North, (615)244-8200
3.Comfort Inn, 1501 Demonbreun, (615)255-9977
4.Days Inn Vanderbilt, 1800 West End Ave., (615)327-0922
5.Hampton Inn & Suites, 1919 West End Ave., (615)329-1144
6.Holiday Inn Express, 920 Broadway, (615)244-0150
7.Knights Inn, 96 Spring St., (615)259-9160
8.Motel 6, 420 Metroplex Drive, (615)833-8887
9.Travelodge, 1360 Brick Church Pike, (615)262-0526
10.Super 8 Motel, 2306 Brick Church Pike, (615)277-8888

How do we get to Bi-Centennial Park in Nashville where the march will start?

1.From Atlanta: Take I-75 N. Merge on to I-24 W toward Chattanooga/Nashville. Continue on I-24 W via Exit 211B toward Clarksville/I-65 N/Louisville. Merge on to James Robertson
Pkwy/US-41 via Exit 48 toward State Capitol. Turn right on 5th Ave N. End at 5th Ave N & Harrison St.
2.From Winston-Salem and Asheville: Take I-40 W to I-24 W via Exit 211B  toward Clarksville/I-65 N/Louisville. Merge on to James Robertson y/US 41 via Exit 48 toward State Capitol. Turn right on 5th Ave. N. End at 5th Ave N & Harrison S
3.From Louisville & Lexington: Take I-65 S toward Nashville to I-24 E toward Chattanooga/Knoxville. Take Exit 48 toward James Robertson Pkwy/State Capitol. Stay straight to go on to Interstate Dr. Turn slight right on to James Robertson Pkwy/US 41. Turn right on 5th Ave N. End at 5th Ave N & Harrison St.

4.From Memphis: Take I-40 E toward Nashville. Merge on to I-65 N via Exit 208B on the left toward Louisville. Merge on to 8th Ave N/US-41A S via Exit 85 toward State Capitol/ Capitol/Bicentennial Mall. Turn left on Jefferson St. Turn right on 5th Ave N. End at 5th Ave N & Harrison St.
5.From Knoxville: Take I-40 W toward Nashville. Keep right to take I-24 W via Exit 211B toward Clarksville/I-65 N/Louisville. Merge on to James Robertson Pkwy/US-41 via Exit 48 toward State Capitol. Turn right on 5th Ave N. End at 5th Ave N & Harrison St.
6.From Chattanooga: Take I-24 W toward Nashville. Keep right to take I-24 W via Exit 211B toward Clarksville/I-65 N/Louisville. Merge on to James Robertson Pkwy/US-41 via Exit 48 toward State Capitol. Turn right on 5th Ave N. End at 5th Ave N & Harrison St.
7.From Nashville International Airport: Take a cab or MTA bus No. 18 to Deaderick Street in downtown Nashville.