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Lawmakers respond to Murfreesboro child arrests

Scott Broden

Sparks faces competition from others seeking to represent his 49th District seat: Republican Aaron Holladay and Democrat Brandon Thomas.

Thomas also sent out a statement Sunday to respond to what happened at Hobgood.

"As a young Black man running for public office, it saddens me to hear that police officers got the green light to arrest young children," Thomas said. "However, I’m not surprised. I am surprised by Senator (Bill) Ketron’s comments stating that the Black Caucus was simply 'grandstanding' about the issue."

Most people are not colorblind on this issue, Thomas said.

"The Black Caucus is not grandstanding," Thomas said. "They are pointing out the everyday experience of students of color. They are pointing out the fact that we live in a society that profits off incarceration and not rehabilitation. They are pointing out that the arrest of the Hobgood Elementary School children is a systemic problem created by mass incarceration, the CCA (Corrections Corporation of America), and a school to prison pipeline that is pervasive in communities of color."

Thomas also raised concerns about national school discipline data that shows that black children being punished at a higher rate than white children.

"We as Tennesseans not only need to be vigilant about the Hobgood case, but we also need to examine how students of color are being disciplined across the state," Thomas said. "We need to create an accountability system that treats all students equally and disciplines them fairly."

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STATEMENT: Brandon Thomas’ statement on the arrest of Hobgood Elementary School students

4/24/2016

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Brandon Thomas’ statement on the arrest of Hobgood Elementary School students
Democratic Candidate for the 49th House District responds to misguided Republican comments

Murfreesboro, Tennessee - As a young Black man running for public office, it saddens me to hear that police officers got the green light to arrest young children. However, I’m not surprised. I am surprised by Senator Ketron’s comments stating that the Black Caucus was simply “grandstanding” about the issue. I’m also surprised that Representative Sparks who has said he is for juvenile justice reform, is nowhere to be found on this issue. I encourage more of the delegation to follow Sparks’ lead. It seems that the all-Republican Rutherford County delegation is surprised that most people are not colorblind on this issue.

We should not be surprised that people of color often receive harsher punishments than their white counterparts. Looking at school disciplinary issues alone, students of color are more likely to receive greater suspension time. A 2014 study by the U.S. Department of Education showed that Black preschool students made up 48 percent of children receiving more than one out of school suspension even though they only made up 18 percent of student enrollment. Likewise, white students who make up 43 percent of enrollment only accounted for 26 percent of students receiving more than one out of school suspension.

While the arrest of Hobgood Elementary School children comes as a shock for our community, the issue at-large has mostly gone unnoticed. In the same report, the Dept. of Education further states that “while black students represent 16 percent of student enrollment, they represent 27 percent of students referred to law enforcement and 31 percent of students subjected to a school-related arrest.”

The Black Caucus is not grandstanding. They are pointing out the everyday experience of students of color. They are pointing out the fact that we live in a society that profits off incarceration and not rehabilitation. They are pointing out that the arrest of the Hobgood Elementary School children is a systemic problem created by mass incarceration, the CCA, and a school to prison pipeline that is pervasive in communities of color.
We as Tennesseans not only need to be vigilant about the Hobgood case, but we also need to examine how students of color are being disciplined across the state. We need to create an accountability system that treats all students equally and disciplines them fairly.

Brandon Thomas is the Democratic candidate for Tennessee 49th House District. His website is www.votebrandonthomas.com

Press Release: State House Candidates Announce LGBT-Focused Candidate Meet and Greet

4/21/2016

State House Candidates Laura Bohling and Brandon Thomas Announce LGBT-Focused Candidate Meet and Greet

Tennessee House candidates Laura Bohling and Brandon Thomas are pleased to announce a campaign kick-off/candidate meet and greet at Chameleons Lounge on April 23rd, 2016 at 8pm. Both candidates are strong supporters of the LGBT community, so a venue like Chameleons is an excellent place to start getting the community engaged with both campaigns.

Laura Bohling, candidate for the 34th District, State Representative, and former Rutherford County Circuit Court Clerk, has long been a supporter of LBGT equality, but it wasn’t until just a few years ago that it became personal.
“When my son came out in November of 2014, what had always been a logical decision to support the LBGT community became both an emotional and spiritual decision too.” “People are people – period. Seeing the courage it took for my son to come out to friends and family, naturally made me want to follow his example to be more vocal in supporting the community,” Bohling said. “One of my goals as a legislator is to be certain that all people living in Tennessee feel welcome and once again proud to be Tennesseans.”

Brandon Thomas, candidate for state house in the 49th District, has been an advocate for the LGBT community – of which he is also a member – since his high school days. Thomas worked hard during his college career to make Middle Tennessee State University’s campus a more welcoming place for LGBT students, and he hopes to do the same for the state.

“The anti-LGBT bills in our legislature don’t reflect the beliefs of the Tennesseans I know,” Thomas said. “The Tennesseans I know, understand that LGBT Tennesseans are their friends, family and neighbors. And that’s why I’d like to welcome everyone, of any orientation, to come out to this event and meet Laura and myself. We want to talk to you about whatever issue matters to you, whether it’s an LGBT issue or not.”

Chameleons is located at 6528 New Nashville Highway, Smyrna, TN 37167.
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Press Release: Brandon Thomas Announces Candidacy for State

4/8/2016

Brandon Thomas Announces Candidacy for State Representative

MURFREESBORO (April 8, 2016) — Murfreesboro resident and Middle Tennessee State University alum Brandon Thomas today formally announced his candidacy for the Tennessee State House of Representatives, House District 49.
“The Tennesseans I know are not currently represented in our state legislature,” Thomas said. “Being a Tennessean, to me, means loving, helping and lifting up your neighbors. It means protecting the most vulnerable among us, and making sure even the smallest group can be heard. And that’s not what I see in the bills coming out of Tennessee’s House and Senate lately.”

Thomas points to the lack of action around Insure Tennessee as a prime example of the current legislature’s failure to exemplify the Volunteer spirit.
“We had the opportunity to get one hundred percent funding and keep our neighbors from falling into the coverage gap, and there is no good explanation for why we didn’t take that opportunity,” Thomas said. “We can’t let votes, donors and other political concerns outweigh the need to help our neighbors.”

Thomas also congratulates the Tennessee Democratic Party on its historical efforts in recruiting female candidates for this election cycle, and pledges to be a strong candidate for women’s issues.

Thomas received his bachelor’s in Political Science from Middle Tennessee State University. He lives in Murfreesboro with his husband Michael and their dog, Coco.