citybeat (2005-50)

A Black and White Issue

A documentary looks back to Knoxville’s segregated past

Red Light District

The city zooms in on your intersection infractions

Transitions at Metro Pulse

Wednesday, Dec. 7

Held had recently started work on a documentary, entitled Knoxville’s Greatest Story , about the desegregation movement in Knoxville, ignited by the interest in civil rights he developed while a student at the University of Tennessee. It began as a labor of love, he says, but morphed over time into a monumental film project encompassing 30 hours’ worth of taped interviews. “At first, I just wanted to learn some more details about the history of the Knoxville sit-ins. But I was finding out that there wasn’t much in the way of written documents; I was getting more stories from folks who had actually been involved in movement,” he says.

For blacks, the downtown Knoxville of the early ’60s was an unwelcoming place. They weren’t allowed in either the Tennessee or  Bijou Theatres, and several lunch counters maintained a whites-only policy. In response, a series of anti-segregation actions, including picketing and sit-ins, took place; as the result of perhaps the most notable of these, a 1963 protest outside the Tennessee Theatre, 150 protesters were arrested. Channel 10 captured the moment on one of the reels Held was given permission to incorporate into his documentary.

In addition to interviews with people who actually participated in the sit-ins, Held sought insights from leaders of contemporary social activism groups. “People who work in social justice today are, to one degree or another, still influenced by these folks who started causing all this ‘trouble’ in the ’60s,” he explains. “I’m interested in the question, is there still a civil rights movement today? But I’m not sure that it’s a question that has been answered yet in this film; I’m looking at another year’s worth of work.”

A preliminary short draft of Knoxville’s Greatest Story will be shown at Beck Cultural Exchange Center on Saturday, Dec. 17, between 2 and 4 p.m. The screening coincides with the re-opening of the center this week, following over 10 months of renovation during which the organization took up residence in the former Gateway Visitor Center. Saturday’s event is open to members of Beck, and interested individuals may join the organization on that day. 

In addition to Saturday’s screening, the center will be hosting an open house throughout the week. Beck Cultural Exchange Center is at 1947 Dandridge Ave. For more information, call 524-8461.

 

Red Light District

“The top 15 intersections will be picked out of the intersections that have had the most serious crashes,” says Darrell DeBusk, KPD’s spokesperson.

In November the city voted 6-3 to sign a contract with Redflex Traffic Systems, the largest provider of digital photo enforcement programs in North America.

“All the pictures that are taken from the cameras will be downloaded at Redflex,” explains DeBusk. “They look at that and take that packet of information and send it to the police department.” Then, officers will make the final call, and citations will be mailed to the person that that car was registered to.”

If the person driving the car is not the registered driver, both will need to go to court to clear things up. DeBusk doesn’t anticipate that needlessly congesting the court system. “I don’t think you’re going to see that become an issue at all,” he says.

Instead, he praises the cameras for their potential to diminish injuries and fatalities. After all, in 2004 there were 879 crashes at Knoxville’s 30 nastiest intersections, and many of these were “T-Bone” or side collision crashes related to running red lights. From January through October of this year, those same intersections have seen 679 crashes.

“The main reason for the red light cameras is to reduce the number of crashes,” says DeBusk. “A lot of these injuries are very serious injuries that require a major amount of lost time at work, even a lifestyle change for that individual or that family.”

However, some studies have noted an increase in accidents, particularly rear-end collisions, following the installation of red light cameras.

“A lot of information indicates that [the cameras] don’t reduce accidents, that they in fact increase accidents,” says Councilman Hultquist, who voted against signing the Redflex contract. “There’s just too much conflicting information and data out there in terms of whether or not it’s a viable approach to accident reduction—because that’s supposed to be the primary rationale—and I just think that the data and information that’s available is mixed at best.”

Whatever the city’s primary rationale, it stands to make a good deal from the cameras. Washington, D.C., for instance, collected $15 million in fines after two-and-a-half years of red light cameras. “We haven’t thought about [the money] much, considering the fact that the vendor gets most of it,” says Hultquist.

Indeed, Redflex stands to collect the choicest piece of the pie. City Law Director Morris Kizer says the company will receive 85 percent of the first $4,500 collected from each camera, and an additional 50 percent of everything collected beyond $4,500 per camera, entitling them to $42.50 of the first 90 $50 citations from each of the 15 intersections.

“A lot of people want to say that it’s going to be a secret, but that’s not true,” says DeBusk. “Every intersection that has a camera is going to be marked with signs.”

The police department will also conduct a public awareness event for community members. “It’s not about how many citations, “ says DeBusk. “It’s about reducing the number of people running the red light. If these cameras result in no violations because people are obeying the law and not running the red light that would be great, and the city would not be out any money.”

Barry Henderson, longtime editor of Metro Pulse , is, in lieu of anything as sensible as retirement, cutting back a little. An old-school newspaperman, he first became editor at Metro Pulse in the early ‘90s, when the paper first got serious about printing actual news, previously a novelty here. He’ll stay with the paper keeping regular hours as senior editor, and will keep writing and advising.

Leslie Wylie, who has held the title of managing editor here for several months, is the new editor of Metro Pulse . Wylie, who is finishing her masters degree in journalism from UT, became managing editor of our sister publication, Knoxville Magazine , from its launch almost a year ago.

She was formerly, and for about four years, the entertainment editor of the UT Daily Beacon , where she also served as copy editor, and has also been a regular contributor to the environmentalist journal Hellbender Press . She spent several weeks of last summer in Ireland working for the Dublin music magazine Hot Press . She began contributing music reviews and other occasional pieces to Metro Pulse almost three years ago.

In his six years here Clint Casey, who has played more different roles at the paper than anyone since Metro Pulse ’s earliest days, most recently as assistant editor, will rise to managing editor, a title that to a large extent describes what he has already been doing for the last several months. Casey has been de facto systems manager at Metro Pulse for about a year, charged with, among other things, managing the paper’s website, and he has supervised production on deadline day throughout that period.

Clint has been associated with Metro Pulse since 1999, originally on the sales side, but unlike any salesmen we remember, found himself also writing music reviews and incidental copy; he moved more fully to the editorial side in 2003.

Paige Travis, who has been our arts and entertainment editor since 2003, left in November to try something new at AC Entertainment. She may continue to throw us a bone now and then, but her former responsibilities will be split between two staffers. Former calendar editor Molly Kincaid will be our arts and entertainment editor; Ellen Mallernee will be our music editor. Both will remain staff writers, as they have been for over a year.

Meanwhile, Kevin Crowe, former intern and freelancer, will come on as calendar editor and part-time staff writer.

Joe Sullivan and Frank Cagle will retain their roles as contributing editors, and Jack Neely will remain associate editor.

SEVEN DAYS IN DECEMBER

Wednesday, Dec. 7

Thursday, Dec. 8

Friday, Dec. 9

Saturday, Dec. 10

Sunday, Dec. 11

Monday, Dec. 12

Tuesday, Dec. 13

© 2005 MetroPulse. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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