OPINION: Did any good come out of pool party chaos?

OPINION: Did any good come out of pool party chaos?

Recently a video surfaced on Youtube that rocked cyberspace. Captured on a cell phone, the seven-minute clip shows a crowd of swimsuit-clad youth in a suburban Texas neighborhood, milling around anxiously while several police officers questioned them and forced some onto the ground.

The scene escalated as one particular officer began shouting and cursing at several juveniles, going so far as to throw one fourteen-year-old girl violently to the ground and handcuff her while sitting on her back with his knees. When a few of her friends rushed forward to help, the officer pulled out his gun and ran them off. This video now has more than 12,000,000 views.

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A CNN article delves deeper into the event: some neighbors have come forward to say that the police were called because the kids were partying at the neighborhood pool without permission. Others say the commotion was brought on by a disturbance unrelated to the teens throwing the pool party. No matter what way you look at it, the image of a police officer kneeling on a teen girl leaves a bad taste in the mouth. Can anything good come out of a story like this one?

When I take a step back, I realize that while this incident never should have happened, I am glad it has at least received so much attention. The police officer in question, Eric Casebolt, has been rebuked far and wide across the inter-webs, and thousands have called for the removal of his police badge. Last Monday he did resign from the force after being placed on suspension, and the police chief of the McKinney, Texas police department pronounced Casebolt’s actions “indefensible,” adding that a full investigation will be launched. Television host Bill Maher spoke on the incident, voicing his opinion that this kind of behavior can and should be weeded out. His colleague on the panel added that, “This time we can have the conversation without a body on the ground.”

Situations like this one arise all the time. Unnecessary violence is often facilitated against the unarmed or innocent, whether it be a police man against young girl, an abusive husband against his spouse, or a person of influence against a subordinate. When these events are brought to light, as was this one in Texas, the population has a chance to see inequality and mistreatment in real time, and identify problems and solutions in their own neighborhoods and in their own lives.

Two Ferguson officers survive shooting during protest

Two Ferguson officers survive shooting during protest

FERGUSON, Mo.—

Early Thursday, two police officers guarding the Ferguson Police Station were shot by protesters following the federal investigation of the city’s allegedly racially biased police force and the resignation of Police Chief Thomas Jackson.

One witness said protests had started “to calm down for the evening” when several gunshots rang out just after midnight.

“It sounded like firecrackers, that’s what we thought at first, but when everybody hit the floor and the police said, ‘Get down, get down,’ and guns were drawn, we all hit the floor,” said witness Jennifer Roller. “It was a frightening moment.”

One officer was shot in the shoulder and one was shot in the face. Both were protected by their riot gear. The officers were taken immediately to a hospital, still conscious, where they were treated for serious injuries.

The identities of the officers have not been disclosed to the public.

Immediately after the shooting, police cleared everyone from the scene. No one else was harmed.

“Fortunately, with both officers, we don’t have any remarkable long-term injuries,” said Belmar.  “We’re lucky.”

Protests in Ferguson have been ongoing for several months since the shooting of teenager Michael Brown. Although this event has sparked many violent demonstrations including looting and fires across the country, this is the first direct assault on police officers.

“These police officers were standing there and they were shot,” said St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar at a news conference Thursday morning. “Just because they were police officers.”

Attorney General Eric Holder Jr. denounced the “heinous and cowardly attacks,” and went on to say that the shooting should not impact the progress the county has recently made.

“What happened last night was a pure ambush,” said Holder in a press conference Thursday morning. “This was not someone trying to bring healing to Ferguson. This was a damn punk, a punk, who was trying to sow discord.”

No identifications were made in the mass chaos. Authorities are currently trying to track down the suspects.

Mixed reactions to Obama’s State of the Union

Mixed reactions to Obama’s State of the Union

WASHINGTON, D.C.–

In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama attempted to show progress and national solidarity, while taking his agenda for the year to the far left. However, the attempt at unity largely fell flat, leaving politicians and citizens frustrated and disappointed.

Shortly before giving the speech, the president repeated his threats to Congress; namely, cooperate with my agenda or I will veto your bills.

“I think this was a tremendous missed opportunity for this administration,” said Senator Richard Burr. “When you start out with multiple veto threats and you show no willingness to even meet somewhere in the middle on issues that have been percolating for some time, it gives you very little hope that there’s going to be a breakthrough.”

“Finding common ground is what the American people sent us here to do, but you wouldn’t know it from the president’s speech tonight,” said John Boehner, Speaker of the House. “While veto threats and unserious proposals may make for good political theater, they will not distract this new American Congress from our focus on the people’s priorities.”

“True to form, the President in his State of the Union speech is more interested in politics than in leadership,” Mitt Romney, former Republican presidential candidate, said. “He ignores the fact that the country has elected a Congress that favors smaller government and lower taxes. Rather than bridging the gap between the parties, he makes ‘bridge to nowhere’ proposals. Disappointing. A missed opportunity to lead.”

Senator Elizabeth Warren and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton were more optimistic. “Great speech, Mr. President,” Massachusetts senator Warren said. “Looking forward to working with the WhiteHouse to build an economy that works for all our families.”

“[Obama] pointed [the] way to an economy that works for all,” Clinton wrote. “Now we need to step up & deliver for the middle class. #FairShot #FairShare.”

Clinton’s addition of #FairShot #FairShare echoes hints in Obama’s speech of their shared philosophy of wealth redistribution. While Obama does not directly say so in the address, he indicates that he plans to tax wealthier citizens and businesses more, while providing free community college and aid for middle class families to “pay for childcare.”

“It’s unfortunate President Obama wants to use the tax code to divide us — instead of proposing reforms to create economic opportunity for every American,” former Florida governor Jeb Bush said. “We can do better.”

While the president covered such topics as the economy, making community college free, trade deals, infrastructure, research, taxes, climate change, and pulling out of the Middle East, he neglected to discuss his plans for combating terrorism at home or overseas.

“So when Barack Obama, like the rest of us, hear these bad guys, these terrorists, promising that they will raise the flag of Allah over our White House, for the life of me I don’t know why he does not take this serious[ly], the threat,” said Sarah Palin, former Republican vice presidential candidate. “Because yes, it’s more than a vision. They’re telling — just like Hitler did all those years ago, when a war could’ve been avoided, because Hitler, too, did not hide his intentions. Well, ISIS, these guys aren’t hiding their intentions either.”

Palin also felt compelled to apologize that she and her running mate did not win the 2008 election. “As I watched the speech last night…the thought going through my mind is, ‘I owe America a global apology,’” Palin said.

Apparently, the president was more concerned with “reject[ing] offensive stereotypes of Muslims,” “condemn[ing] the persecution of…people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender” (because it “make[s] us safer”), and “agree[ing] on a woman’s right to choose” than defending America, her citizens, and people around the world from extremists who kill anyone who disagrees with them.

“Imagine if we broke out of these tired old patterns,” Obama said towards the end of his address. “Imagine if we did something different.”

“Tonight, America saw a powerful demonstration that it is time to move on beyond President Barack Obama,” said Senator Ted Cruz.

“We need someone in the White House with the experience to navigate our national security challenges and the fortitude to be straight with the American people on how to tackle them,” said former senator Rick Santorum. “Inauguration Day 2017 cannot come soon enough.”

“A few moments ago, we heard the President lay out his vision for the year to come,” said Senator Joni Ernst in her response to the State of the Union address:

Even if we may not always agree, it’s important to hear different points of view in this great country. We appreciate the President sharing his. Tonight though…I’d like to talk about your priorities. I’d like to have a conversation about the new Republican Congress you just elected, and how we plan to make Washington focus on your concerns again. We heard the message you sent in November — loud and clear. And now we’re getting to work to change the direction Washington has been taking our country. There’s a lot we can achieve if we work together. Let’s tear down trade barriers in places like Europe and the Pacific. Let’s sell more of what we make and grow in America over there so we can boost manufacturing, wages, and jobs right here, at home. Let’s simplify America’s outdated and loophole-ridden tax code. Republicans think tax filing should be easier for you, not just the well-connected. So let’s iron out loopholes to lower rates — and create jobs, not pay for more government spending. The President has already expressed some support for these kinds of ideas. We’re calling on him now to cooperate to pass them. You’ll see a lot of serious work in this new Congress. We know [terrorist] threats…can’t just be wished away. We’ve been reminded of terrorism’s reach both at home and abroad; most recently in France and Nigeria, but also in places like Canada and Australia. The forces of violence and oppression don’t care about the innocent. We need a comprehensive plan to defeat them.

Ernst goes on to advocate honoring America’s veterans, repealing Obamacare, cutting wasteful spending, creating a balanced budget, and defending life, among other priorities.

“Congress is back to work on your behalf, ready to make Washington focus on your concerns again,” Ernst said. “We know America faces big challenges. But history has shown there’s nothing our nation, and our people, can’t accomplish.

Portland photographer’s Ferguson rally ‘hug photo’ depicts hope

Portland photographer’s Ferguson rally ‘hug photo’ depicts hope

PORTLAND, Ore.–

Hundreds of people gathered for a Ferguson rally in Portland on November 25. People attended the rally for their voices to be heard, but 12-year-old Devonte Hart and Portland Police Sgt. Bret Barnhum shared a moment that went beyond words— a hug.

Portland freelance photographer Johnny Nguyen, 20, captured this moment.

Nguyen said he first saw Hart hugging another man, not Sgt. Barnhum. “I thought, ‘What a powerful image: A white American man hugging a young black American boy,’” he said. “[So] I started taking pictures of that.”

Later in the rally Hart turned toward Nguyen. “Tears were running down his face and I saw that he had a sign around his neck that said, ‘”Free hugs,’” Nguyen said.

Nguyen talked to Hart for a little while. “I asked him if he knew why it’s going on,” Nguyen said. “He said ‘yes.’ I asked him if he thought it was good or bad. He didn’t say anything. He kept crying, so I gave him a hug.”

After the hug Nguyen decided to give Hart some space, so he walked about 10 feet down the sidewalk. “But my gut kept telling me to stay there for a little while, Nguyen said. “The next time I looked over [at Hart], Sgt. Barnum was talking to him.”

Sgt. Barnum saw Hart’s sign and motioned for him to come toward him. Sgt. Barnum said they had a brief conversation about school and life, and then he pointed to Hart’s sign and asked if he was getting one of those. Hart embraced the officer as his eyes swelled with tears.

Nguyen said this photo has resonated with so many because it depicts something other Ferguson rally photos have not — hope.

“The [rally] images have depicted violence, anguish and anger,” Nguyen said. “But this one showed humanity, hope and positivity. I think, deep down, that’s how every human being wants it to be. That’s what people want to see…The photo shows there is humanity left — there is hope.”

 

Pro-life advocates question disparity after Ferguson

Pro-life advocates question disparity after Ferguson

FERGUSON, Mo.—

As the nation mourns with Ferguson for the loss of 18-year-old Michael Brown, some pro-life advocates pointed out the forgotten Missouri deaths the nation should be protesting. Since the August shooting of Michael Brown, Missouri lost hundreds of African-Americans to abortion.

Reverend Katherine, writer of the Keep Life Legal blog, discussed this disparity wracking her hometown of Ferguson.

“Since the day that Michael Brown died [Aug 9, 2014], another 981 Black Missourians have died; 9 per day, every day since then,” she wrote. “These Black Missourians were unarmed, innocent, and had no ability to defend themselves and died in plain sight. But there is no outrage, no riots, not one protest.”

“The most dangerous place for an African-American is in the womb,” according to Pastor Clenard Childress, Jr, Director of Black Genocide.

Black Genocide promotes awareness concerning a widespread killer of African-Americans: abortion. According to Protecting Black Life, over 14 million Black babies have been killed since abortion was legalized in 1973.

Although African-American residents make up 11.7 percent of Missouri’s population, 32.66 percent of all reported abortions in the state are performed on African-Americans.

“So, while these rioters are trying to destroy my native city of St. Louis because of the death of one Black man, the rioters overlook the fact that just a couple of miles away at Planned Parenthood on Forest Park Avenue, another 109 Black babies have died since Michael Brown,” Reverend Katherine wrote.

“Why aren’t [there] rioters at Planned Parenthood defending themselves and their future generations? Why do they allow themselves to be essentially exterminated by abortion but riot over one?”