Just 3 days south of Texas, there is a Latin American country on the verge of Civil War. The little country of Nicaragua is experiencing social unrest and violence throughout the country that some are calling the worst it has been since the civil war 30 years ago.
Currently, 78 people have been killed, over 868 people have been injured five of whom are in critical condition and roughly 438 people, including many students, have fallen victim to government disappearances. On one side is the communist dictator Daniel Ortega and his vice president and wife Rosario Murillo, along with the Sandinistas or Nicaraguan Communists. He has most of the government’s support, as well as a fairly large portion of the poor population. Those opposed to the communist dictator are a large group of people ranging from college students, to poor farmers, to other local municipalities who all feel that Ortega is destroying the constitution. Nearly all the major cities in the country are experiencing mostly peaceful protests.
The protests started on the 18th of April after a proposed social security reform that passed practically overnight. The reform would have increased funding for the program while raising the age for individuals to access social security and decreasing the number of benefits given out to those recipients. As with most protests and civil movements, students and the young were the first to protest the bill. The Sandinistas in turn sent in the police to break up the protest. The unarmed protesters were met with police officers firing live ammunition and Pro-Sandinista groups armed by the police. After the first week nearly 50 people were killed, most of which were student protesters. In addition to the deaths, hundreds were injured and arrested. The overreaction of the government to the protests has morphed a simple protest over social security into a nationwide referendum against the Ortega regime.
Since the beginning of the protests, Ortega has given some concessions to the protesters, including withdrawing the social security reform and releasing some of the people arrested, but to the protesters, it isn’t enough. During the unrest, pro-government groups were looting local businesses and causing destruction while under the protection of the police. This only fueled the protests further and caused more people to come out against the government. There are currently hundreds of thousands of people protesting and the number continues to grow daily.
Nicaragua is a poor country with people willing to do whatever it takes to get food. To some people, their only choice is between supporting the oppressive dictator or starve. Others truly believe that the Ortega’s plan can really work and can give everyone a better life. Not all government officials are acting out. Some government workers are joining in the protest and actually keeping the peace through the chaos. The Nicaraguan military has decided to not become involved on either side.
The situation in Nicaragua is still developing and it is hard to tell which way this conflict will go. Currently, the government is engaged in the second day of talks with the protesters in an attempt to bring peace to the country. The demands by the protester are for the government to release those arrested, fire the officers who injured citizens unjustly, and for the President and Vice-President to step down from office. More information can be found by following the social media hashtag #SOSNicaragua.
Ahmed Khalifa, a 17-year-old Muslim teen, recently assisted Brooklyn police in the arrest of Rayvon Jones, a man who assaulted a 56-year-old woman. Khalifa was on the southbound Q-train when he saw Jones slap a Jewish Orthodox woman across the face. The strike was so hard that it broke the woman’s glasses and caused her face to bleed. The woman fell unconscious and Jones left the train at the next subway stop. “For some reason, he just decided to hit her. It was a very hard slap, I could almost feel it,” Khalifa said. “He was a very big, big guy.” Other Q-train passengers helped the injured woman while Khalifa told the conductor to call for help while he chased Jones. Khalifa lost sight of Jones and, after failing to catch the attention of a police cruiser, he flagged down another Orthodox passerby who offered to help. The two found Jones at a bus stop and called the police with the assailant’s location. Police captured Jones as he boarded the bus. Though he was screaming violent threats and kicking the doors of the bus, Jones was arrested. Assemblyman Dov Hikind honored Khalifa with a legislative citation and a laptop in the week following the attack. “Some people are like ‘she’s Jewish, why did you help her,’” said Khalifa. “I’m like ‘everyone is equal.’ I treat everyone the same way.”
Curious Comedy’s team of actors are taking a break from making jokes to train Hillsboro Police officers.
The actors were called after Hillsboro Police tactics and training officer Roberto De Giulio recognized a need for officers to practice making quick decisions in high stress scenarios like those they often face in the field. De Giulio was discussing this with a brain researcher who said, “Get some actors.” So he did.
Stacey Hallal, artistic director at Curious Comedy said she was “immediately interested” when the department called to ask if Curious Comedy would be interested in helping this training. The improv team came up with scenarios based on case files and videos they studied, intentionally creating situations to challenge the officers.
Improv performers must be skilled at reading and responding to non-verbal communication from those around them-the same skills officers need on a day-to-day basis.
Officer Stewart Kelsey said the first few seconds of an interaction is incredibly important. “There’s that initial assessment: What do I think I’m getting myself into,” he said. “What am I seeing, and then gauging that command presence. Do I have to stand like I’m encountering a bear and be this formidable person, or can I be more relaxed and position myself verbally?”
This beginning interaction either on stage, or in a high-stress scenario is a determinate of its outcome..
“You communicate so much in that initial exchange,” Hallal said. “Am I going to trust you? Am I not going to trust you? Are you on my side? Are you not on my side?”
Currently the training is focusing on helping officers handle situations involving people expereincing mental health crises. Both De Giulio and Hallal are hoping to expand the training to include situations involving domestic violence and race relations.
On his last day as a police officer, Commander Brian Peters decided that he wanted to thank the community he had served over the course of his career as a police officer.
A 42-year-old commander at the Brooklyn Center Police Department in Minnesota, Peters made the decision to take the money he earned during one day’s work as well as the money the police association was to give him for his service and give the money to the city he loved.
In an interview with ABC News, Peters said, “I’ve got nothing but good things from the city as well as the citizens. Why don’t I take what I make in a day and add that $120 that the [police] association was going to give me, and I’ll just round it up to $500 and get some gift certificates to give to people.”
With money from his own pocket, Peters bought five gift cards from Target and five gift cards from a grocery store, Cub Foods. Peters spent the day handing out these gift cards to strangers in the Brooklyn Center.
“People need groceries, and kids need toys. My goal was to walk around the city and just find people that could maybe use a little extra cash or income to buy the kids some toys.”
In about two and a half hours, Peters had given all the gift cards away. He stated that he had managed to put smiles on several people’s faces. Peters noted a particular case, in which he stopped one woman and gave her a gift card after noticing the condition of her car.
“Her car was really old and really damaged. I saw that her windshield wipers were stuck in the up position. I explained what I was doing and gave her a gift card to Cub Foods, and immediately, she lit up with a smile and started crying.”
“She said, ‘You won’t believe how much this helps.’ And she said, ‘Can I get out of the car and give you a hug?’ And I said ‘Absolutely.'”
The supervisor of the joint community police partnerships for Brooklyn Center, Monique Drier, was with Peters when he gave out the gift cards, and told ABC News, “He didn’t even have a going away party. He wants something in the community.”
Peters has started his new job as the manager of Target’s global crisis command center, and noted that he still wishes to give to the community. “Community service is extremely important, and when you’re fortunate in life, you should give back to others who aren’t as fortunate. That’s what makes the world go ’round.”
After a woman tried to shoplift $300 worth of items from Walmart, the Kansas police officer sent to arrest her paid for everything instead.
Sarah Robinson, a widow and homeless mother of six, had tried to shoplift a large amount of baby wipes, diapers, and shoes for her family. According to a report of the incident, three of her children were barefoot and walking around with dirty feet when their mother tried to take the items she so desperately needed.
The police officer, Officer Mark Engravalle from Roeland Park, caught the family as they got to the parking lot. However, instead of arresting the woman, Engravalle, a father of two children as well, paid for everything she had stolen.
“What she did was wrong and against the law, but her heart was in the right place with wanting to help take care of her children,” said Engravalle in an interview.
Robinson stated, “It’s humiliating that I could be at a point where I would do something like that. I’m not a bad mom, just bad actions.”
Robinson has also received a fine for her attempted shoplifting. However, with over $6000 in donations that have poured in for the family, Robinson should manage to pay the fine without any further problems.
“Walmart might see her as a criminal, but I just saw her as a mom going through a really difficult time,” said Engravalle.
Robinson has said that she is extremely grateful. “He helped us at a time when it seemed nobody else could.”