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Journal reporter denied entrance to Thornton Township Black History event, told NDA was needed

SOUTH HOLLAND, Ill. (February 26, 2024) – Lansing Journal reporter Kinise Jordan was planning to cover a Black History Month program at Thornton Township on Saturday, February 24, but was denied entrance to the event because she was a member of the media and hadn’t signed a non-disclosure agreement.

The event, which was billed in a Facebook flyer as a “Celebrating Trailblazers” program, was held at Thornton Township headquarters, 333 E. 162nd Street, in South Holland. The program was to include “powerful spoken word artists, delectable food, and live entertainment” from 3 – 5 p.m.

No NDA? No media.

denied entrance
Lansing Journal reporter Kinise Jordan

Upon entering the building around 2:45 p.m., Jordan waited in a line to sign in for the event. A township staffer asked if she had registered, and Jordan explained she was a member of the media.

“She directed me to another woman, who told me to hold on while she went and got a gentleman who told me he was the supervisor’s assistant. I didn’t get his name,” Jordan said.

Jordan told the man she was at the event to cover it for The Lansing Journal. She said she would be taking pictures and talking to residents who were attending the program. She also showed her press pass, which identifies her as a Lansing Journal reporter.

According to Jordan, the man told her that all media were required to sign an “NDA” before attending the event. Because she hadn’t signed one, he explained, she wouldn’t be allowed in.

NDA stands for “non-disclosure agreement,” a legally enforceable contract that is designed to ensure the confidentiality of sensitive information.

“It took me by surprise,” Jordan said. “I scanned the room and asked myself, ‘What’s going on here that they require media to sign an NDA to be here?'”

After confirming she wouldn’t be allowed in, Jordan supplied event staff with a business card and left the event.

Open to everyone — and heavily guarded

A Facebook post for the event on Thornton Township’s page invited local residents to “celebrate together” at the event, and stated that attendees must be Thornton Township residents. Residents were also encouraged to register online, though the Facebook information did not state that registration was required.

denied entrance
A Facebook post for the Saturday Black History program. (Screenshot from facebook.com/thorntontwp)

Additionally, The Lansing Journal could find no online information about the event requiring media to sign a non-disclosure agreement before attending. It is also unclear which aspects of the event media would have been asked to stay silent on.

Jordan said she was surprised by the level of security at the event.

“I was confused, because I thought the event was open to the public,” she said. “Initially, being in the line, I felt as if it was an event for the President. It was very guarded.”

Coverage requested — but not allowed

Aware of recent reporting from The Lansing Journal and other media outlets about potentially illegal actions taken by Supervisor Tiffany Henyard’s administration, Jordan said she was prepared to simply cover the Black History Month program as an event. She was not planning to approach the Supervisor for a comment.

“I’m aware of the stuff that’s been going on with her,” Jordan said. “I was thinking that if she’s trying get people to feel that what’s being said about her isn’t true, this isn’t helping her.”

Supervisor Tiffany Henyard has repeatedly criticized media for not writing about Thornton Township events. During a board meeting in August 2023, she said, “I would appreciate it if people stop writing negative stuff about the township and write all the good that we do here in the township.”

Thornton Township Headquarters is located at 333 E. 162nd Street in South Holland. Information about upcoming events can be found at thorntontownship.com.

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Josh Bootsma
Josh Bootsma
Josh is Managing Editor at The Lansing Journal and believes in the power and purpose of community news. He covers any local topics—from village government to theatre, from business openings to migratory birds.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Tiffaney and her goon squad have to go ! Kinise Jordan was just there to do her job nothing bad ! … Kinise so sorry this happen to you ! I would sue the Township for violation of your 1st. ammendment or at least the Journsl should, but neither one are like her or the Township. we just live here !!!!!ALSO WE PAY THEIR SALARIES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • I agree, Carl. Hopefully, The Lansing Journal can get their Legal Department involved and sue the individuals, personally, for restricting egress to public property. If the event was private, there should be a “rental agreement” or other documents to waive liability and maintenance cost to taxpayers.

  2. There are not enough words in the English dictionary to describe the foolish and fraudulent antics of Henyard and her hooligans. She is not untouchable, nor above the law. The absurdity of her minions to request an NDA at a PUBLIC event is illegal and unconstitutional.

    Ms. Jordan had every legal right to be present to cover the event as a member of the local press. That is the hallmark of a free society. Even a journalism student had every right to attend and write a story.

    Meanwhile, Henyard believes she can act as a dictator. If she craves perceived power, she can move to North Korea or China and try to fight their rulers for their titles. She wouldn’t last a day, as a jail cell would await her arrival. Even they know absurdity when they see it.

Comments are closed.

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