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Week That Was: Hate Groups, Back to Business, and Drake Hall

Hate groups on the rise, businesses reopen here, and a radio personality goes silent.

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A 2018 White Nationalist rally in Downtown Memphis
  • A 2018 White Nationalist rally in Downtown Memphis

Hate Groups Rise in Memphis
There were eight active hate groups in the Memphis area in 2019, according to data from the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC).

Each year, SPLC releases a comprehensive look at hate groups in the country, broken down by state and city. In Tennessee, there were a total of 38 hate groups, with the majority of those groups concentrated in the Memphis area. The number of groups in Memphis is up from the six recorded last year and double the number of groups here in 2015.

The SPLC defines a hate group as one having "beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically their immutable characteristics." Last year, Memphis had one Neo-Confederate group, one White Nationalist group, and four Black Separatist groups. In Bartlett, there were two White Nationalist groups.

Statewide, groups range from anti-LGBTQ to Racist Skinheads. The most prevalent group was Black Separatists with eight recorded groups in the state. According to the SPLC, Tennessee has two more total recorded groups than last year.

Drake Hall Is Off the Air
Astute listeners to WXMX 98.1 The Max noticed this week that their favorite morning radio personality, Drake Hall, was not on the air.
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Hall, who's won the Flyer's Best of Memphis awards in several radio categories for, well, forever, issued the following statement in response to a query from the Flyer:

"As many of you have noticed, I’m not on the radio at the moment. I’m very excited about our future plans and we’ll be letting you know what’s next, very soon. You can follow us on the Drake Hall Memphis Facebook page and at drakehallmemphis.com.

"I owe a debt of gratitude to all the good people I’ve worked with for the past 16 years, especially Wes Yahola and Syd Nabors and my late, great partner of 23 years, Zeke Logan. My main goal for now is not getting up at 3 a.m. Wishing you good health and peace until we meet again.”

As yet, there has been no statement from Cumulus Media, the corporate owner of WXMX, regarding Hall's departure.

“Back to Business” Announced
Volunteers load food into a car at a mobile food pantry. - FACEBOOK/MID-SOUTH FOOD BANK
  • Facebook/Mid-South Food Bank
  • Volunteers load food into a car at a mobile food pantry.

Leaders from across Shelby County announced Thursday that phase one of the Back to Business plan was to begin on Monday, May 4th.

“After careful study of the data, and on the advice of our medical experts including the Shelby County Health Department, the mayors of Memphis, Shelby County, and the six surrounding municipalities have determined that May 4th, 2020 is the date that we can begin phase one of our Back to Business framework. 
Mayor Strickland
  • Mayor Strickland


“As we said at the beginning of this week, our data was trending in the right direction,” said Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland. “Along with our doctors, we believe it’s time to slowly start opening our economy back up and get Memphians working again.

“As we enter the first phase of the economic recovery, I have to note that members of our community have made serious sacrifices,” said Shelby County Mayor Lee Harris. “We have residents who have put their livelihoods and their ability to take care of their families on the line. We have healthcare employees and other frontline workers who have continued to serve through a very tough period of hardship.
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“As we enter Phase 1, we must continue to be vigilant as a community. We must expand our efforts to protect vulnerable groups. And, if there is a significant flare-up, we must be prepared to be honest about it.”

“We have been watching the data carefully and have continued to improve, particularly in hospital capacity and testing capacity, both of which continue to expand,” said Dr. Alisa Haushalter, director of the Shelby County Health Department. “Over this next phase, we will need to commit to expand our public health capacity to conduct investigations and aggressively respond to clusters as they emerge.”

U.S. Attorney Combats Sexual Harassment in Housing
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The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Tennessee is increasing its efforts to combat sexual harassment in housing as many struggle with housing insecurity amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant is asking that Tennesseans who have witnessed or experienced sexual harassment by a landlord, property manager, maintenance worker, or anyone with control over housing to report it to the Department of Justice.
U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant
  • U.S. Attorney D. Michael Dunavant


This increased effort comes as the COVID-19 pandemic has caused many to experience housing insecurity and an inability to pay rent on time. The department is working with state and local partners to identify incidents of sexual harassment in housing and will investigate such allegations, pursuing enforcement actions where necessary.

“Every person in this district deserves the right to live in a place of their choosing without fear of sexual harassment,” Dunavant said. “This is not a small town issue or a big city issue, but an issue of respect and dignity. We want women and men throughout all of West Tennessee to know that there’s someone they can turn to if you feel unsafe in your home, no matter where their home is.”

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