Police Brutality and Racial Profiling

Two men shown holding up a banner showing deaths by police force

The police are the people who protect us, the people we feel the safest with. Right? Well, it’s a yes and no, in my opinion. Over the years, the police have been abusing their power and instilling fear and terror in citizens rather than feelings of safety and relief. All of these things are parts of what is called police brutality. Police brutality is the unnecessary force used by police on civilians including assault, abuse of weapons, and even murder.

Though this unnecessary force can be used on anyone, police brutality is more commonly used against people of color. In 2015 alone, police killed around 104 unarmed black men, twice the number of white men. Out of the 104 cases, only 13 case offenders were tried and charged.

An example of police brutality is the brutalization of a pregnant black woman, Charlena Cooks in 2015. The woman was charged unlawfully, after Cooks was caught in an argument with a white parent while dropping her child off at school. When police asked Cooks to identify herself she denied, which is allowed in certain states. A little while after denying to identify herself, Cooks was wrestled to the ground even after alerting the authorities she was pregnant. ACLU police say that she was charged with “resisting arrest,” but the charge was later dropped. This is just one instance of police brutality and racial profiling.

There are other instances of police brutality against other genders and races. In 2014, a 13- year- old Latino boy, Andy Lopez, was shot while walking through a vacant lot. A sheriff’s deputy mistook Lopez’s air soft gun for an automatic weapon, and shot Lopez to death. The deputy claimed that he fired because he feared for his life, for his partners’ lives, and for the community.  The officer was not charged.

Though these cases spurred protests and political debate, police brutality and racial profiling has not declined since.

Black lives matter activists being sprayed with tear gas in Phoenix

In 2017, the United States police force revealed 1,129 individuals have been killed in the span of just one year.

This just shows how violent someone in the police can be, and how they could over abuse their position. The fact that police brutality even has a name for it shows that there have been enough cases and enough events for it to be defined and classified as something. Police brutality shouldn’t be happening, it shouldn’t continue. In the black community, kids are taught at a very young age what they should do when a police officer approaches them. Certain races, even what sexuality one identifies with can make and individual more susceptible to encounters with the police thus opening the door for police brutality. Historically, police brutality occurs during protests and marches, not because the police officer is mad or upset, nor because he enjoys it, but instead as a tactic for safety or to control the crowds– pepper spray and tear gas are used to disperse groups that the police deem threatening, even when they may not be. To use force, or threaten force, during peaceful protests acts to “normalize” this sort of policing.

There should be changes happening, and a lot. For instance, policemen and women should be properly trained and taught alternative, positive intervention protocols. Most police brutality cases involve use of weapons including shooting their guns, tasers, and their plain fists, as first mode of intervention, rather than a last resort.

Additionally, all police brutality cases should be tried equally and perpetrators should be charged depending on the severity of the case and police officers should be tried as citizens, not as individuals above the law.  In order to decrease police brutality and fix police departments across this nation, proper education on different scenarios, races, and ethnicities should be given.  There should also be a wider diversity on a police force, rather than one race dominating the whole task force.  Some have suggested that police officers  who don’t have certain degrees, and pass certain tests both mental and physical, should be deemed unfit to fill their positions.

If these changes occurred, a lot of would change, less people would be going to prison, getting hurt, and even getting killed. Police brutality should be brought to an end, so should racial profiling. No one else should be getting hurt or murdered for silly reasons or bias.

 

Sources:

https://www.cnn.com/2013/10/24/justice/california-fake-rifle-boy-killed/index.html

https://mappingpoliceviolence.org/unarmed/

https://www.cnn.com/2015/05/28/us/barstow-california-police-video-pregnant-woman-arrest/index.html

Valentine’s Day Shooting

Parkland students participate in a candlelight vigil on February 15, the day after the shooting.

On Valentine’s day, Nikolas Cruz, a former student of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, entered the school armed with an AR-15. Cruz was wearing a gas mask and threw smoke grenades before pulling the fire alarm. This caused students to exit their classrooms into the hallway, where Cruz opened fire. He shot at least 31 students and staff before he was captured by police. The death toll is 17, and students who were in critical condition have stabilized, since the writing of this article. Cruz has been charged with 17 counts of premeditated murder.

Great Neck North High School’s Wrestling Competes in Qualifiers and Nassau Counties Tournaments

Leon Taryan

Saturday February 3, Great Neck North High Boys Wrestling team competed against other Nassau County Division 1 schools such as Great Neck South, Wantagh, North Shore, Mephem, Plainview, and Bethpage. The qualifiers tournament is what determines if a wrestler gets ranked among his or her weight class. If he is a wrestler in a certain weight

Johnathan Rismany

class, then he would have to rank first to third place in the Qualifiers tournament to move on to Counties, which is the next ranked tournament. After that, the wrestler would then move onto the States tournament.

Ariel Arabian

Four boys, Jonathan Rizmany-152; Ariel Arabian-160; Leon Taryan-285; Roy Livian-145, from Great Neck North High ranked in Qualifiers and moved onto the Counties tournament which was held during the weekend of February 10-11th at Hofstra University.  None of North High Schools contestants made it beyond Nassau Counties.

Two Teens Take Home Gold in Winter Olympics

 

Image result for red gerard

Red Gerard, gold medalist in the snowboarding slopestyle event.

USA athletes Chloe Kim and Red Gerard, both 17 years old, won gold medallions in the 2018 Pyeong Chang, South Korea Olympic Games. Gerard won the medal in the slope-style event on February 11th, and Kim won on February 13th in the half-pipe event.  Kim is the first female to complete a 1080 on the halfpipe. 

Chloe Kim, of the United States, reacts to her score during the women’s halfpipe finals.

 

When asked about her win, Kim said “it really hasn’t sunk in yet.”

Class Spotlight: Village School’s Cooking Class

Village School’s kitchen since 2015

At Village School, there are a wide array of electives offered that are usually intensive studies of a specific topic.  Some are serious and others are a little more fun, as is the case with this semester’s offering, Cooking, which is taught by Ronni.  The combination of her cooking and math skills lead to some very fun food ideas and precise techniques that students would probably not have tried on their own.

The class, in different variations, has been offered at Village for many years and was always a fun one, but it lacked kitchen space to efficiently teach and experiment.  Therefore, in 2015, Village School’s kitchen space was expanded and outfitted with state- of- the art equipment, which improved the class experience. 

Students Ben and Margaret cleaning kitchen items

“Cooking class has been around for many years,” stated Ronni. “The only difference now is that we have gotten a better kitchen to work in. It really has made a huge difference for the class.”

According to Ronni, the point of the class is simple. “Getting students to try out healthier new things and opening them up to a less meat and dairy-based diet is what we’re striving for here. And most importantly, not using meat and dairy will give ingredients a longer shelf life.”

Unfair Punishment for Disciplined Student In Anti-Bullying Video

A junior at Lebanon High School felt that she should make an anti-bullying video after her classmate committed suicide as a result of bullying. Emily Gipson, the creator of this video, posted it to YouTube and it went viral. The video was recorded in a classroom at the high school after school hours. Because she was not authorized to use this classroom after school hours and didn’t have permission, Gipson got into trouble. It was not the video’s content itself that got her into trouble. 

The content of this video was asking for people to be respectful of each other. In the video, Gipson says, “Welcome to Lebanon High School, where you come to be

Emily Gipson speaking in the aforementioned video in an attempt to help bullying victims and promote positivity.

analyzed from head-to-toe every day by people you don’t even know.”

Gipson had said in response to News 4, a local Lebanon news station, “I’ve seen problems with bullying, problem with bullying not being dealt with, and I feel like some things are just put aside.” Gipson also had said that the video is for anyone who feels like they are getting bullied and also spoke about how she recognizes that bullying occurs in every school. “Anywhere I can make a difference I’d love to,” said Gipson.

Gipson has indeed made a difference in people’s lives with this video – she says she’s received numerous messages from people who watched her video, and that these were all extremely supportive messages. One girl even said the video saved her life.

The punishment Gipson received for recording this video in a classroom at school was two days of in-school suspension.

I understand that the school had to take some sort of action as Gipson did not receive consent to use the classroom and anything that is filmed on campus can be interpreted as school district endorsement, which is why students’ need to get approval first.  And, most likely, the school district did not disagree with what Gipson’s message was at all.  However, I still do not feel that this punishment was fair. Although Gipson should have asked to use this classroom first, I feel like her video was such a good deed that she should have been given a lesser punishment and actually given some praise for what she did!

I think that they should have done a one period or week’s detention, but not in-school suspension. Gipson deserved to see the video her effects have had in her school and how good her deed was. At the same time, however, she does need a little bit of a gentle reminder that she cannot film videos in classrooms without permission. Therefore, I think detention is a better idea than two days of in-school suspension. The school administrators should also talk to her, and perhaps the entire school, about why students cannot film videos in classrooms.

The idea behind the video was to help her peers and teens in general think of themselves in an increasingly positive matter. Because she wasn’t screaming into the void like thousands of other anti-bullying videos and notably saved lives, I feel that they should have recognized her good deed in some way.  

As a student who has been bullied a lot in the past, I know that I would’ve heavily benefitted from a teen my age making this video. It’s people who witness bullying and other forms of hate but don’t do anything who seem, to me at least, the most harmful – these are the bystanders who could have helped, but did not. And when a bystander steps forward and stands up to a bully, through any means possible and in an effective way, it really makes a difference. This video made a huge difference in people’s lives and I feel that that matters more than whether or not Gipson had gotten prior consent to use a school classroom as a backdrop to her powerful and positive message.

Why Your Cat Should Be Kept Inside

Cats are America’s second most popular pet, behind only fish. There are estimated to be over 85 million pet cats in America, compared to only 78 million dogs. But, there are also an estimated 58 million feral cats in the United States.

A feral cat colony in Great Neck, with a few shelters visible and many more behind that tarp in the background.

These feral cats, as well as millions of pet cats that people let outdoors, have an enormous impact on the environment. Scientists estimate that cats kill 1.3–4.0 billion birds and 6.3–22.3 billion mammals every year in America alone! Most of the birds killed by cats are species native to America, and in suburban and rural areas, most of the mammals killed are also native.

The threat cats pose to animals isn’t limited to America, though. Cats are listed as one of the world’s top 100 worst invasive species, and for good reason: worldwide, cats have contributed to the extinction of 33 (14% of total) bird, mammal, and reptile species in modern times.

A Piping Plover chick, endangered in New York.

The problems caused by cats are made even worse by humans. People provide food and shelter to entire colonies of feral cats, regardless of the consequences for nearby wildlife. For example, at Jones Beach, there is a colony of around 30 feral cats that are fed by people, and they even have shelters people built for them. This colony happens to be very close to an area where Piping Plovers, a bird considered endangered in New York state, nest and raise their young.

Not only would keeping cats indoors save billions of birds and mammals, but it would also be beneficial for cats. Outdoor cats are exposed to dangers such as cars, predators, poison, abuse from people, and diseases. Because of these things, feral cats have an average lifespan of around 2 years, compared to about 15 years for pet cats, with indoor-only cats living on average 2-3 years more than cats that spend a lot of time outdoors.

Star Wars: The Last Jedi Review

There was just so much hype for this movie, and in the end, all fans got was disappointment. Following the massive success of 2015’s “The Force Awakens,” which was directed by J.J Abrams, “The Last Jedi,” which was directed and written by Rian Johnson created a lot of hype for Star Wars fans. Many characters who returned in this sequel from the other movies were extremely out of character, such as classics like Luke Skywalker and even Leia Organa. It’s unfortunate, because this movie could have been so much, and instead delivered so little.

“Rose Tico” played by “Kelly Marie Tran” in Star Wars: The Last Jedi

The movie’s plot is very muddled and it isn’t until almost an hour an half to actually get going (thanks to Rey’s unnecessarily long “Jedi training scenes.”) The First Order knocked out the Resistance’s hyperspace drive (which is what would have let them get away) which meant that all their ship could do is go forward and direct all the remaining energy of their main cruiser to the back shields. So far no problem– in fact, this sort of thing is not foreign to the Star Wars series at all. It all starts to go sour when the control room got blown up, causing Leia to get flung into space. And she survived by using the Force to get her back into the ship. Alright. Characters usually die within milliseconds the moment they’ve gotten into space without any air and heat support, and Leia was out there for at least a minute and twenty seconds. This is forgivable though– not a big deal, right? Well, this isn’t the only time that characters in this movie seem to accomplish some extremely miraculous feat that nobody in the entire Star Wars series has ever accomplished before up to that point.

Luke Skywalker seems to have the ability to ‘astral project’ by using the Force, meaning he can be on multiple planets at once. It is an extremely strong power, and to add it now within the movie franchise completely makes certain scenes from previous movies feel foolish in nature. And finally, there is the problem of Rose’s character. A lot of fans can agree on the fact that Rose’s character was dull and that she added almost nothing to the plot. Then there was the line where she says, “war is about saving those you care about.” On the contrary. That is not what war is about at all!

In so many ways, this movie failed to deliver. I’m hoping that with the next, a lot of these issues are remedied. Otherwise, the franchise will suffer a heavy blow.

Teacher Spotlight: Cindy Pavlic

Cindy is Village School’s Resource Room teacher.  She helps us with homework, manage our assignments, and achieve our academic goals. I sat down with her Monday and asked her about her time here at Village and what her interests are outside of school.  

How did you hear about Village School?

I heard about Village School from my law professor in graduate school, who happens to be Jeff’s [Bernstein, a social studies teacher] wife. She told our class about a vacancy for a special education teacher and I gave her my resume.

Cindy Pavlic, a very important part of Village School.

What do you love most about working here?

I love everything about it. I love the environment – the fact that the teachers have so much creative freedom to develop their elective classes and teach how they want. I love that we have a true sense of community and family here. I love that it is different and  we can help students be successful with all aspects of their lives. I love that we actually make a difference.

What do you do outside of school?

Outside of school, I read a lot. I love to read whenever I can. I enjoy the movies and cooking.

If you could go to any country where would you go?

I would like to travel to places that I haven’t been before. Some include Hawaii (I know it’s not a country but I have never been there), Tahiti, Bora Bora, the Maldives (all French Polynesian islands known for clear turquoise waters and overwater bungalows.) I would also like to go back and visit Croatia some day. My family is from Croatia. I’ve been there once and it is beautiful. I would definitely like to return one day.