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DECEMBER 21 - DECEMBER 27, 2012
VOLUME 20 NO. 51
OUR CROSS TO BEAR BY CHARLES W. CHERRY II FLORIDA COURIER PUBLISHER
GENARO MOLINA/LOS ANGELES TIMES/MCT
The casket carrying the body of Sandy Hook Elementary School student Jessica Rekos, 6, waits to be carried into the St. Rose of Lima Church for funeral services in Newtown, Conn.
• On May 7, 2007, after the Virginia Tech massacre, I wrote, “Millions of guns in America; billions of bullets. Thousands will die. All we can do is try to reduce the numbers, and pray it’s not us or someone we know.” Gun control provisions I proposed then included criminally prosecuting everyone in the gun’s “chain of custody.’’ “The owner of any gun used to maim or kill someone, even in cases of suicide, should be prosecuted for negligent possession of a deadly weapon, no questions asked. If the injury is slight, it’s a misdemeanor. If the injury is serious, it’s a felony. If someone is killed, it’s manslaughter. This is similar to ‘felony mur-
Last week’s massacre of first-graders, their teachers and administrators was just the latest violent atrocity in a country awash in more than 310 million guns. Where do we go from here?
der’ laws. If someone is killed in the commission of a felony, for example if two thieves rob a bank and one shoots and kills a teller, the accomplice can be convicted of ‘felony murder,’’ even though he
Receiving ‘hope for the holidays’ This young Dania (Broward County) resident is all smiles after receiving a free toy at St. Ruth Missionary Baptist Church’s annual “Hope for the Holidays” celebration. The church gives away free toys, food and clothing. Bishop Victor T. Curry is the pastor.
didn’t fire the shot,” I wrote then. Other ideas: Mandatory gun insurance allowing victims to get paid; and controlling ammunition. “Comedian Chris Rock is correct,” I wrote. “We need bullet control, not gun control. If a single bullet cost $500, most people couldn’t afford to buy them. Fine by me.” • On Aug. 7, 2009, I wrote, “On Tuesday, 48-year-old George Sodini, a man who (according to him) had been rejected by ‘30 million women,’ shot up an L.A. Fitness Center. He wounded nine women and killed three women before killing himself. His guns were properly licensed under Pennsylvania law. “For every homeowner who defends him/herself with a See CONTROL, Page A2
No. 1 in gun licenses No new gun laws coming, legislators say COMPILED FROM STAFF REPORTS
This week – just days after the Newtown shooting – the number of licensed concealed weapons holders in Florida topped 1 million, according to state Agriculture Commissioner Adam Putnam. “Clearly it is a popular law and has been taken advantage of by a large number of Floridians who have acted responsibly,” Putnam said. Florida has been licensing concealed weapons since 1987, when state officials took over authority from counties that had a patchwork of requirements regarding who could carry and what was needed to qualify for a license. Since then, more than 2 million licenses have been issued. License holders are predominantly male and most are over 31 years old, with more than 219,000 at least 65 years old. While still a relative minority, representing about 20 percent of all license holders, more than 200,000 women also have licenses to carry.
Sales up Overall gun sales are also up. Last week, Florida Department of Law Enforcement Commissioner Gerald Bailey, said the agency processed more criminal background checks for firearms on the Black Friday shopping day than any single day in the agency’s history.
LISA ROGERSCHERRY / FLORIDA COURIER
See GUNS, Page A2
SNAPSHOTS FLORIDA | A3
Trial in Rilya Wilson case continues
White House task force to tackle gun violence BY KATHLEEN HENNESSEY TRIBUNE WASHINGTON BUREAU / MCT
FLORIDA | A6
Historic selection: Scott makes one Black in US Senate FINEST | B5
Announcing his first steps in response to the Newtown, Conn., school massacre, President Obama on Wednesday charged a task force with drawing up a list of proposals to reduce gun violence across the nation and urged Congress to hold votes on gun control legislation early in the new year. Obama ordered the task force to return its recommendations “no later than January” and vowed to use the full force of his office to push for the proposals. Vice President Joe Biden will lead the group, which includes members of Obama’s Cabinet, representatives of pertinent
What is an assault weapon? Some semiautomatic rifles, which fire and load another round each time the trigger is pulled, are considered assault weapons. Generally speaking, they share one or more of these characteristics:
A folding or telescoping stock
Detachable, highcapacity ammunition magazines of more than 10 rounds
interest groups, law enforcement officials and gun rights advocates. “We may never know all the reasons why this tragedy happened,” Obama said as he announced the effort in the White House briefing room. “We do know that every day since,
© 2012 MC Source: Assau Weapons Ban an Law Enforceme Protection A Graphi Tom Reinken an Raoul Rano Los Angeles Time
more Americans have died of gun violence. We know such violence has terrible consequences for our society. If there is even one thing we can do to prevent these events, we have a deep obligation to try.”
COMMENTARY: NICK CHILES: WILL AMERICA FINALLY TAKE A STAND AGAINST GUNS? | A4 COMMENTARY: MARIAN WRIGHT EDELMAN: DEAR GOD! WHEN WILL IT STOP? | A4
See WEAPONS, Page A2
DECEMBER 21 - DECEMBER 27, 2012
WEAPONS from A1 Leveraging public outrage
ZBIGNIEW BZDAK/CHICAGO TRIBUNE/MCT
Illinois resident Michael Moore practices his skills in a shooting range. Florida has now issued more than one million concealed weapons permits.
GUNS from A1 Background checks are required for all gun purchases. Persons seeking concealed weapons licenses must undergo further screening and submit fingerprints. A concealed weapons permit now takes a little over a month to obtain, down from more than 15 weeks only a few years ago. About 10 percent of licenses issued in Florida are for out-of-state residents.
No changes The tragic mass killing last week has produced a stream of ideas on gun control and school safety at the national level – but reaction in Florida has been muted, at least in the form of concrete legislation. Gov. Rick Scott has called for school districts to review their safety procedures after the shooting. But no gun legislation has been introduced in either the Florida House or the Senate since the tragedy.
Legislative Republicans, who have traditionally worked to expand gun rights, have largely steered clear of the issue. A spokeswoman for Senate President Don Gaetz, RNiceville, responded vaguely to questions about whether the Senate was planning a legislative response. Democrats have also seemed hesitant, mindful that the GOP-dominated Legislature is unlikely to pass sweeping new laws to control firearms. “You have to look at the recent history of the Legislature,” said Rep. Mark Pafford, a West Palm Beach Democrat who heads up his caucus’ policy efforts. “The Legislature is very, very pro-gun lobby.” Senate Minority Leader Chris Smith, D-Fort Lauderdale, said his office was researching potential changes, including whether to transfer responsibility for background checks for concealed weapons permits from the Department of Agriculture to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. Ideas for making it easier to check an applicant’s mental health history are also under con-
CONTROL from A1 handgun, there are multiple nutcases like Sodini whose paranoid delusions send them on violent rampages. For every hunter, there are multiple instances of temporary insanity involving family members, spouses or significant others where a gun is handy and somebody’s dead in a flash. For every target shooter, there’s an inner-city kid who’s ‘strapped’ either to take what (s)he thinks (s) he needs or to defend him/herself against the streets. “The people who were shot and the families of those who were killed at the fitness center will file lawsuits alleging that the club’s security is inadequate. They will also sue the dead killer’s estate. But nobody confronts the truth – the easy (and legal) availability of guns in America. “The carnage that kills 85 Americans daily, a disproportionate number of whom are Black, will continue. Why? Because the National Rifle Association owns and operates the legislative branch of America’s federal and state governments, and can block any serious gun control laws. Why no outrage in the Black community?” • On July 27, 2012, after the Aurora, Col. shootings, I wrote, “Not much for me to add... What’s changed since I wrote columns (in 2007 and 2009)? The NRA also now owns the judicial branch (the U.S. Supreme Court) and the executive branch, i.e., the presidency (Bro. Prez and Mitt Romney are spineless on this issue). Gun ownership is now America’s No. 1 protected constitutional right. What hasn’t changed? Still no Black outrage...” • That brings us to December 2012. Twenty first-graders and their teachers and administrators are shot dead in minutes by a disturbed, suicidal 20-year-old who first shot his mother in the face with a gun she taught him how to use. Where do we go from here? Here are some facts that should make my suggestions a little easier to swallow. 1.Violence is innate to the human condition. It has taken 5,000 years of wars, conquest, disease, death, culture, technological advances, and religion to civilize humanity to the point where we are not killing each other in a constant fight for daily survival. Anyone on the planet will fight or kill if necessary to gain or maintain the necessities of life – food, water, energy, shelter – if they are deprived of
sideration, Smith said.
Federal issue? Some Democrats say the larger issues, such as whether to limit access to high-capacity ammunition clips that can hold dozens of rounds, could be better handled on the federal level, instead of taking a state-to-state approach that could make rules harder to enforce. “You don’t want a mishmash of gun laws ... by which all you have to do is (buy) a tank of gas and you have a different law apply,” said Florida Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith. Pafford said the state should at least take a look at the resources it devotes to mental health, where Florida ranks as one of the lowest-spending states in the nation. “If it’s easier to actually fund mental health in this state, let’s do that,” he said.
Brandon Larrabee and Michael Peltier of the News Service Of Florida contributed to this report.
it. Deprive us of our necessities for too long, or peel back the internal controls in our brains that make us function at higher levels, and we’ll revert to savagery. 2.Violence has been deeply embedded in American culture, including official governmental policies supporting Native American genocide and AfricanAmerican slavery. America’s historical leadership has never faced up to the legacy of violence on which this country is built. Denial is an American art form when it comes to confronting violence. America unconditionally reserves the right to use violence even disproportionately when it serves the national interest as determined by leadership. 3.America’s founders amended the U.S. Constitution to allow the unconditional right “to keep and bear Arms,” a right which has become biblical. Here’s what it actually says: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.” (Of course, the right didn’t apply to Blacks, women or Native Americans, but that’s another column.) The original goal was for a “people’s army” to defend themselves and the new nation from invaders. 4.Hundreds of years of U.S. Supreme Court decisions have ratified gun ownership as a personal and constitutional right, despite the fact that America now has professional “well regulated Militias” – police departments, state National Guards, and the U.S. military – to defend the nation and its citizens. Single-shot pistols and muskets with a shooting range of 100 yards that took, at minimum, a minute to reload (hence the term “minutemen”) were the only guns in existence when America was founded. The Supreme Court has refused to interpret the Constitution in conjunction with the advancements in gun technology. Consequently, ownership of highly lethal, military-style weaponry of the type never imagined by the nation’s founders is now a legal entitlement. For some, gun ownership is as much a necessity of American life as are food, water, energy, and shelter. 5.America has perfected the technology of murder on both the individual and collective basis and will continue to spend billions of dollars in research and development to maintain its technological edge. Nuclear weapons, neutron bombs designed to kill organic life but leave buildings standing, unmanned drones, precision-guided muni-
It was the fourth time the president has spoken about the mass slaying of 20 first-graders and six of their guardians in an elementary school last Friday in Newtown. The president made clear he is seeking to harness the public outrage at the shootings, and will consider gun control proposals that fellow Democrats have shelved over the years because of potential political consequences. Obama’s remarks Wednesday showed he was mindful that public emotions may fade, and he signaled that he is willing to expend political capital to make the fight against gun violence a priority in his second term. Obama defended the task force as a serious effort, “not some Washington commission.” “This is not something where folks are going to be studying the issue for six months and publishing a report that gets read and then pushed aside,” he said. Obama acknowledged the challenging politics of gun control. He emphasized that the task force would look beyond stiffer gun laws for solutions, including measures that address cultural influences and mental health services. He also repeated his position that the Second Amendment guarantees an individual’s right to bear arms and made an overture to gun owners. “This country has a strong tradition of gun ownership that’s been handed down from generation to generation,” Obama said. “And the fact is the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible.”
Pushing for change Still, it’s clear the White House’s focus is on pushing for new gun laws. Obama stated his support for congressional efforts to revive a federal ban on assault weapons and high-capacity ammunition clips, as well as a push to close a loophole that allows people to buy weapons at gun shows without background checks. Obama urged Congress to hold votes on such measures “in a timely
Twenty kids weren’t “lost,” as if they couldn’t find their way back home; they were murdered. The teachers who defended them aren’t “the fallen,” as if they tripped down a flight of stairs; they were shot to death. These victims of gun violence weren’t “laid to rest” as if they will wake up in the morning. They were buried in the freezing cold earth. tions, laser gun sights, high-capacity gun clips and magazines, semiautomatic guns, armor-piercing incendiary bullets that burst into intense flame on contact. There’s enough killing technology for everybody and for any budget. U.S. arms manufacturers linked to the National Rifle Association, Wall Street and the military-industrial complex make billions of dollars while 85 Americans die every day from gun violence. 6.Politicians must be pressured to address the issue of American gun violence. During his first term, Barack Obama didn’t make a peep about the epidemic of gun violence in his Chicago hometown. And as usual, Black America gave him a pass while 4,000 young people in predominately Black Chicago were injured by gunfire during the four years of the first Obama administration. In fact, after U.S. Rep. Gabby Giffords was shot, Obama bragged about how his administration expanded gun rights. He’s lifted bans preventing people from carrying guns in federal parks and on trains. Given our disproportionate pain as a consequence of gun violence, where’s the Black outrage? 7.Random mass murders and gun violence in America can never be completely eliminated. CNN estimates there were more than 310 million nonmilitary guns in America in 2009, including millions of high-capacity semiautomatic weapons. These guns won’t just disappear. It’s only a matter of when and where the next mass shooting will be and who will pull the trigger. We already know how it will be done. 8.The mental health link to gun violence has been ignored.
manner” in the new year. He also noted that Congress has not confirmed a nominee for director for the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives the last six years, and he urged lawmakers to act. Asked by a reporter why he had not taken action on gun violence in his first term, Obama responded that he has focused on other priorities. “I’ve been president of the United States, dealing with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, an auto industry on the verge of collapse, two wars. I don’t think I’ve been on vacation,” he said. “And so, you know, I think all of us have to do some reflection on how we prioritize what we do here in Washington.”
No easy path The task force will be navigating tricky legal terrain reshaped by Supreme Court conservatives. Some state and local gun-control measures already have died over the past 41/2 years, done in by the high court’s 2008 ruling that recognized expansive constitutional protections for firearm ownership. Similar Second Amendment restraints will limit the ambitions of the Obama gun task force and its Capitol Hill counterparts. “The Supreme Court has decided that the amendment confers a right to bear arms for self-defense, which is as important outside the home as inside,” Judge Richard Posner of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals noted in a ruling last week.
Some restrictions possible The Supreme Court has said that “laws imposing conditions and qualifications” on firearms sales may be permitted. This might allow, for instance, more background-check requirements. The court further indicated in 2008 that “an important limitation on the right to keep and carry arms” extends to “dangerous and unusual weapons.” That might include military firearms such as the M16 assault rifle, which the Supreme Court specifically cited. Adam Lanza used a Bushmaster AR15-style rifle, a civilian version of the M16, when he killed 20 children and six women in Newtown, Conn. last week.
See point No. 1 above. If mental illness reduces or eliminates a person’s internal controls, erratic and possibly violent or selfdestructive behavior follows. That person only needs access to a single gun of the 310 millionplus now in cars, under pillows and beds, in closets, etc., to wreak complete havoc. Here are my categorized suggestions as to how gun violence could be reduced. (Some categories overlap and my list is incomplete.) Legal – Supreme Court justices should be selected who would greatly narrow the interpretation of the Second Amendment. Legislative – Repeal the Second Amendment. Take advantage of the current Supreme Court’s ruling allowing “reasonable” gun rights restrictions. Pass a serious ban that broadly defines what an “assault weapon” is. Close the “gun show loophole” allowing a gun purchase without a background check. Outlaw making homemade ammunition and buying guns and ammunition online. Require gun training and liability insurance coverage for every gun owner. Establish a federal law that criminally prosecutes everyone in the gun’s “chain of custody’’ when that gun kills someone. Ban “concealed carry’’ in federal buildings, on any federal property, and in interstate transportation. Require and fund one armed resource officer, a certified cop, for every one of the 100,000 public schools in America. Require the same for all 35,000 private schools. (DON’T arm teachers, faculty or staff.) Establish “health care” courts to provide due process for people with mental health issues who may be dangerous. Fund serious mental health care research, including recommendations for systemic reform that would include government-operated secured facilities. Mental and health care – “Obamacare’’ needs to evolve into a single-payer universal system in which mental health issues are treated as just another illness with no lifetime limit regarding treatment. Change privacy law so family members and mental health professionals can legally “drop dime’’ to the courts when they believe someone is a clear danger to themselves and others. Entertainment – Content producers have become creatively lazy. They now use computer graphics or mindlessly brutal lyrics to make pornographic violence a cheap substitute for a compelling, well-written story or song. View-
ers should take nonviolent direct action (boycotts) against companies and artists who make or distribute such TV shows, movies or music. The industry should stop stigmatizing mental health, and develop TV and movie characters with mental health challenges who take their meds and are good and productive. Faith-based community – Get involved, spread some love around and change the hearts and minds of people who are suffering, depressed, angry, or lonely and thus at risk for homicide and suicide. Link up with the health care and mental health communites; not every solution is spiritual. Black community – Destigmatize mental health through consistent education and outreach. Increase the number of Black mental health professionals. Establish stronger mentorship programs for Black children and support systems for families facing mental health challenges. Schools – “Harden” them by restricting access from the outside. Add “drop, crawl and hide” to regular emergency and fire drills in schools. Keep focusing on eliminating bullying, especially kids ridiculing other kids who don’t fit in. Miscellaneous – Join the National Rifle Association, get active in it, take it over from the inside, get rid of its current leadership and move it away from its “the gun is God” philosophy. A pet peeve. Can we get away from the mealy-mouthed language regarding these tragedies? Twenty kids weren’t “lost,” as if they couldn’t find their way back home; they were murdered. The teachers who defended them aren’t “the fallen,” as if they tripped down a flight of stairs; they were shot to death. These victims of gun violence weren’t “laid to rest” as if they will wake up in the morning. They were buried in the freezing cold earth, or their bodies were burned and the remaining residue was ground into dust. Here’s the brutal reality. They are all needlessly “graveyard dead,” they will never take another breath, and their families will never see or touch them again – at least on this plane of existence.
Contact me at ccherry2@ gmail.com; holler at me at www. facebook.com/ccherry2; follow me on Twitter @ccherry2.
DECEMBER 21 - DECEMBER 27, 2012
Trial in Rilya Wilson case continues Legal custodian says she was afraid of live-in lover accused of killing foster child FROM WIRE REPORTS
Testimony continued this week in the trial of Geralyn Graham, accused of killing 4-yearold Rilya Wilson and disposing her body. Charged with first-degree murder, kidnapping and aggravated child abuse, Graham faces life in prison if convicted. The foster child’s disappearance has led to a series of Florida Department of Children and Families (DCF) reforms over the past decade. The girl’s body has not been found. Born to a drug-addicted mother, the child was under the supervision of the DCF nearly her entire life. In 2000, the agency placed her in the home of Pamela Graham, the live-in lover of Geralyn Graham. Pamela had legal custody of Rilya and a younger sister, Rodericka.
Tied up, abused A caseworker failed to properly supervise the child for more than a year, and DCF did not realize Rilya was missing until April 2002. Geralyn has insisted that a
An undated handout photograph of Rilya Wilson at her birthday party was shown at the trial of Geralyn Graham, a foster caretaker charged with abuse and murder of young Rilya Wilson. DCF employee took Rilya away for mental health treatment in January 2001 and never returned her. Geralyn was not indicted for murder until 2005 after she allegedly confessed to a cellmate that she had smothered the girl and dumped her body in a South Miami-Dade waterway. Pamela Graham made a deal with prosecutors, pleading guilty to child neglect and child abuse with no harm. She likely will face no jail time. In testimony on Monday, she said her former lover was domineering and controlling so she
CARL JUSTE/MIAMI HERALD/MCT
Geralyn Graham listens to testimony during her trial in Miami on Monday. She is charged with the murder of four-year-old Rilya Wilson. went along with a lie that a state welfare worker had picked up Rilya and never returned her. Pamela, legal custodian of the foster child, said Geralyn confined the girl to a small laundry room in their South Florida home, sometimes for days. At night, Rilya was tied to her bed by the wrists to keep her from climbing on furniture. And to punish the girl for wetting the bed, Geralyn once even dipped
the girl into extremely hot bathtub water, Pamela Graham told jurors Monday.
‘I was weak’ Pamela says she suspected the worst when the girl disappeared but did nothing because she was afraid of getting the blame. She also spent years repeating stories that Geralyn had made up about how Rilya vanished in
Abuse at girls center shows flaws in state’s juvenile system, critics argue BY MARGIE MENZEL THE NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
JOE BURBANK/ORLANDO SENTINEL/MCT
President Barack Obama works with campaign volunteers at the “Obama For America” Orlando field office in Orlando on Oct. 28. He made numerous visits to Florida during the campaign.
It’s official: Florida goes for Obama NEWS SERVICE OF FLORIDA
The state of Florida’s 29 electoral votes were officially cast for President Barack Obama at a brief ceremony Monday at the state Capitol. It took a little more than 30 minutes for electors to commemorate Obama’s win in November and hear from outgoing Democratic Party Chairman Rod Smith. Obama, who also prevailed in Florida in 2008, was the first Democrat to carry Florida twice since Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Smith said.
“That means that we have a president who I think ... finishes this election and hits this inauguration with the wind at his back,” Smith said. Electoral votes will officially be counted Jan. 6 in Washington, D.C., with Obama’s second inauguration following two weeks later.
Bills would prevent funeral protests Sen. Lizbeth Benacquisto, R-Fort Myers, filed a bill last week aimed at preventing protests that would disrupt funerals,
burials or memorial services. Benacquisto’s proposal (SB 118) would apply to services for members of the military, emergency-response workers, elected officials or minors. People who violate the law could be charged with first-degree misdemeanors. Earlier this month, Rep. Patrick Rooney, RWest Palm Beach, filed a similar measure (HB 15), though it would not be limited to services for members of the military, emergency-response workers, elected officials or minors. The issue has surfaced in recent years, largely because a small Kansas church has staged funeral protests to draw attention to its anti-gay views.
Bill targets ‘malicious’ campaign tactics After winning one of the state’s fiercest legislative elections last month, Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Boca Raton, has filed a bill that would crack down on malicious attacks against candidates. The bill (SB 114) would allow the Florida Elections Commission to impose fines up to $5,000 against candidates, political parties and various
types of political committees and organizations if they run ads or do other types of communications that include libel or defamation against an election opponent. The bill says libel or defamation would mean a “false or malicious statement that injures the reputation of a candidate and exposes the candidate to public hatred, contempt
or ridicule.” The bill also would require candidates who run ads to attest to their truthfulness within 72 hours. Sachs defeated former Sen. Ellyn Bogdanoff, R-Fort Lauderdale, last month in a multimilliondollar race that included attack ads against both candidates.
TALLAHASSEE – After two incidents of staffers charged with abusing teens at a juvenile lock-up in Milton – one caught on video – the Florida Department of Juvenile Justice (DJJ) has frozen admissions at the facility and put two ombudsmen on every shift until further notice. Also, a group monitoring the safety and civil rights of youth in detention in Florida is asking why DJJ gave the Milton Girls Juvenile Residential Facility a 100 percent satisfactory rating just over a year ago – including in the category “provision of an abuse free environment.” (Milton is located in the Florida Panhandle.) “It is clear that DJJ needs to do more to protect children in its care, and that not only is its residential system broken, its safety monitoring system is fatally flawed,” said David Utter, an attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center.
Troubling incident DJJ last week released August surveillance videos of a guard at the Milton lockup, Shannon Abbott, appearing to slam a 15-year-old inmate into a cement wall, throw her to the ground, and then pinning her down for 20 minutes. In the video, the teen appears passive – although Abbott reported her as resisting. The teen called the Department of Children and Families abuse hotline the next day. DCF then verified the incident as abusive. The video “seriously contradicts its description to us by officials representing the facility,” said DJJ Wansley Secretary Wansley Walters Walters in a statement. “We are also troubled that the facility did not officially report the incident to DJJ until two days after it occurred, and only when the victim called the [Department of Children and Families] Abuse Hotline. This lapse is inexplicable.” DJJ has transferred the teen in the Abbott incident, which occurred in August, to another facility. The agency is also investigating charges that Carol Andrus, the Milton lock-up’s program director, last month grabbed a restrained 15-year-old and threw her down, lacerating her face and ear. Local law enforcement is investigating as well.
Systemic problem Utter said the gap between DJJ monitors’ reports and the facilities being monitored is a systemic problem. He cited a letter from the U.S. Department of Justice to Gov. Rick Scott in December 2011, after Walters had closed the Dozier School for Boys the previous June. “The constitutional violations identified in the enclosed report are the result of the state’s failed system of oversight and accountability, which we suspect affect the
2000, she said. “It’s not something I’m proud of, but at that point in my life, I was weak,” testified Pamela Graham, who is not related to Geralyn. Pamela is 48 while Geralyn is 66. “I just did not like confrontation. I knew the defendant. She just controlled every aspect of my life. It wasn’t that Rilya wasn’t worth it.” The trial is expected to last through mid-January.
entire juvenile justice system statewide,” Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez wrote to Scott. “These conditions return youth to the community no better, and likely less, equipped to succeed than when they were first incarcerated.” Detained youth have a right to reasonably safe conditions of confinement and freedom from unreasonable restraints. Perez noted “it is incumbent upon the state to insure that the unconstitutional conditions of confinement [at Dozier] do not exist at its other juvenile justice institutions” and that if DOJ “learn[s] of the existence of other unconstitutional conditions of confinement at other juvenile justice institutions in Florida, we have the right to open an investigation there.” Scott replied to the letter in January 2012. “We will conduct a comprehensive review of DJJ programs and facilities, redirect youth into alternative programs where appropriate, and reduce the number of deep-end residential beds. I expect that these steps will result in the strategic closing of facilities that have not maintained the standards DJJ has mandated.” However, Scott continued, he disagrees with Perez’ suspicion that the problems at Dozier are system-wide. “The issues investigated by your office were confined to the closed facility, and do not constitute a sufficient, sound or fair basis for concluding that an entire state agency and its employees are failing to properly administer the juvenile justice system in Florida,” wrote Scott.
‘Right-sizing’ care The plan Scott approved for DJJ is a combination of diversion, detention reform and “right-sizing” residential care. Reduced detention over the past five years has allowed DJJ to close hundreds of beds, saving more than $25 million, according to the agency. Right-sizing has revealed “far too many low-risk youth confined in expensive residential institutions,” Walters wrote agency employees in January. They consume scarce resources that could instead be invested in communitybased sanctions that hold youth accountable, protect public safety, create jobs and promote healthy futures for children. Community based sanctions are more effective at reducing juvenile crime and cost much less than correctional institutions. Walters said the smaller the program, the smaller the rate of abuse. “That is why we are fighting so hard to keep kids out of facilities, because things happen,” she said.
Access to hotline Walters also pointed out that every Florida facility has a phone with direct access to the DCF abuse hotline, which is how the teen in the Abbott incident managed to circumvent the staff. But as Detective Larry Tynes of the Santa Rosa Sheriff’s Office wrote in his report of the incident, “the victim stated she waited to call the Child Abuse Hotline the next day because she was told by other girls in the facility it would be worse for her if she called DCF right away.” Utter said the inmates are not interviewed in depth by DJJ monitors, and that it’s time to include their input in the oversight of juvenile facilities. “Now that we have videotaped evidence of physical abuse of a young girl, by a guard whose most important charge is to keep children safe, it is important to look at the larger picture,” he said.
DECEMBER 21 - DECEMBER 27, 2012
Will America finally take a stand against guns? These horrific gun events have been coming at such a fast and furious pace, we can’t help but think that this December has been the national equivalent of a psychotic break – a snapping of the social contract. Kansas City Chief Jovan Belcher murdered a 22-year-old woman, leaving a three-month old motherless, then he blasted himself in the head at his stadium in front of his coach. Shocking. But in America in 2012, not that unusual. Jacob Roberts viciously mowed down shoppers at a mall outside of Portland, killing at least two people and then himself. There were 10,000 people shopping in that mall, cowering behind Christmas displays and sunglass kiosks to hide from him. Devastating. But we’ve been there before.
Last week felt different Just like September 11, 2001, instructed the world that the U.S. was now vulnerable to attack in a way we all thought unimagi-
streets – let’s not forget the explosion of sales that accompanied the election of Barack Obama in 2008, as if his enemies were seNICK cretly arming a militia, and sureCHILES ly the same sales explosion is goNNPA-ATLANTA BLACK STAR ing on this very morning – it’s too late. The horse is out of the barn. But we have to take this on. We nable, Adam Lanza told us that not even our babies are safe from owe it to our kids, to our sanity, the haunting destruction of fire- to the future viability of our social contract. arms. In certain neighborhoods, places like the southside of Chi- Weapon makes cago and the westside of Atlan- a difference ta, people have known this for Just think about how much of a long time. President Obama a difference the mechanics of the wisely included the “street cor- weapon actually makes. When ners of Chicago” in his litany of Charles Whitman went up on gun tragedies during his New- the bell tower of the University of town speech. But hell, you don’t Texas in 1966 and killed 13 peoeven have to go into the ‘hood to ple, plus an unborn child, and find babies who were killed by wounded 32 others, he was using firearms. Seems like every other rifles that enabled him to get off week we’re reading about some one shot at a time. kid who got his hands on his Imagine how differently this daddy’s gun and made very bad event in Connecticut might have things happen. gone down if Lanza had to point It is tempting to throw up our his rifle at each child, making eye hands and conclude that with contact with these precious little millions of guns already on the people as he took their lives one
Dear God! When will it stop? The most recent statistics reveal 2,694 children and teens were killed by gunfire in 2010 – 1,773 of them were victims of homicide and 67 of these were elementary school-age children. If those children and teens were still alive, they would fill 108 classrooms of 25 each. Since 1979 when gun death data were first collected by age, a shocking 119,079 children and teens have been killed by gun violence. That is more child and youth deaths in America than American battle deaths in World War I (53,402) or in Vietnam (47,434) or in the Korean War (33,739) or in the Iraq War (3,517). Where is our anti-war movement to protect children from pervasive gun violence here at home? This slaughter of innocents happens because we protect guns before children and other human beings.
Marian Wright Edelman NNPA COLUMNIST
that Newtown families and the community will never be the same. Each of us must do more to stop this intolerable and wanton epidemic of gun violence and demand that our political leaders do more. We can’t just talk about it after every mass shooting and then do nothing until the next mass shooting when we profess shock and talk about it again. The latest terrible tragedy is no fluke. It is a result of the senseless, immoral neglect of all of us as a nation to protect children instead of guns and to speak out against the pervasive culture of violence and proliferation of guns in our nation. It is up to us to stop these preventable tragedies. Permanent damage We have so much work We know from past school to do to build safe commushootings and the relentless nities for our children and killing of children every day need leaders at all levels of
by one. I’m guessing that even inside the most monstrously disordered brain, there remains a shred of human decency that doesn’t allow you to pick up a rifle and point it 20 times at a room full of 5-year-olds and pick them off. Maybe before you get to 20 you will be overcome by that little shred of humanity, that whispering voice speaking in your brain as your ears register the pleading cry of a baby asking you not to kill her. That’s what this would have looked like 40 years ago. But in 2012, Lanza can walk into a classroom and remain as detached as the kid playing the video game, squeezing the trigger and spraying the room in an instant, disconnecting himself from the screams. He doesn’t have to look anyone in the eye; his humanity remains untouched. This mass killing machine, designed to produce human carnage, intended for soldiers at war, allows Adam Lanza to destroy 20 little lives in the blink of an eye. I pray that when Lanza crossed
over that line and produced a presidential tear, he created some courage and resolve in the hearts of those men and women who represent us. And maybe Lanza brought some National Rifle Association executive to his knees, forcing him to talk to God, to ask himself why he continues to fight for Lanza’s right to equip himself with a mass killing machine.
It’s up to us Something feels different in America. But let all of us fall to our knees and pray that it’s not just a mirage, a tease. Let us all pray for courage and resolve, not just in our elected officials, but in ourselves. Because ultimately, it is us who they answer to. We hold the keys to our collective future. If America wanted to end the legal sale of automatic weapons, it would happen tomorrow. Are you willing to take a stand for our babies?
Click on this story at www.flcourier.com to write your own response.
VISUAL VIEWPOINT: AMERICA’S GUN CULTURE
government who will stand up against the National Rifle Association and for every child’s right to live and learn free of gun violence. But that will not happen until everybody who believes that children have a right to grow up safely stand up together and make a mighty ruckus as long as necessary to break the gun lobby’s veto on common sense gun policy.
Laws must control Our laws and not the NRA must control who can obtain firearms. It is way past time to demand enactment of federal gun safety measures, including ending the “gun show” loophole that allows private dealers to sell guns without a license and avoid required background checks; reinstating the assault weapons ban that expired in 2004; and requiring consumer safety standards for all guns. Why do we regulate teddy bears and toy guns and not real guns that have snuffed out tens of thousands of child lives? Why are leaders
BOB ENGLEHART, THE HARTFORD COURANT
capitulating to the powerful gun lobby over the rights of children and all people to life and safety? I hope these shocking Connecticut child sacrifices in this holy season will force enough of us at last to stand up, speak out, and organize with urgency and persistence until the president, members of Congress, governors and state legislators put child safety ahead of political expediency. And we must aspire and act together to become
the world leader in protecting children against gun violence rather than leading the world in child victims of guns. Nobel Laureate Albert Camus, speaking at a Dominican monastery in 1948, said: “Perhaps we cannot prevent this world from being a world in which children are tortured. But we can reduce the number of tortured children.” He described our responsibility as human beings “if not to reduce evil, at least not to add to it” and
“to refuse to consent to conditions which torture innocents.” It is time for a critical mass of Americans to refuse to consent to the killing of children by gun violence.
Marian Wright Edelman is president and founder of the Children’s Defense Fund (www.childrensdefense.org). Click on this story at www.flcourier.com to write your own response.
The Second Amendment and gun control I fear that curbing gun violence is almost as daunting as curing lung cancer. Yet, just as the daunting challenge does not deter us from attempting to cure lung cancer, it should deter us from attempting to curb gun violence. The best place to begin is to inject some clarity and sanity into our understanding and application of the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Second Amendment specifically refers to “A well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of [i.e., not from] a free State.” Obviously this is because when the Constitution was signed 225 years ago, the United States did not have the wellregulated police forces, let alone the well-regulated armed forces, we have today. Therefore, it is arguable that the only reasonable reading of this amendment in today’s context is that the only people who should have the right to “keep and bear Arms” are those in law enforcement and the military (i.e., those actively involved in ensuring national security).
Limited arms Nevertheless, in deference to American culture, I am prepared to concede that congressional legislation granting citizens the right to keep and bear (at most) six-cylinder handguns (for home protection) and single-shot rifles (for hunting) does not violate
and could have (originally) intended when they drafted ANTHONY the Constitution in 1787. Scalia’s opinion will proL. HALL, vide aid and comfort to the ESQ. paranoid fools who would FLORIDA COURIER happily park a Sherman COLUMNIST tank in their garage as part of their preparation to fight the spirit of the Constitu- off the federal troops they tion. But I would make it il- know will come someday to legal for civilians to possess “take their freedoms away.” any other type of firearm or munitions. Period. NRA commits fraud I believe that anti-gun adMeanwhile, the NRA has vocates who argue for a ban perpetrated a brazen and on all guns are just as irraunconscionable fraud on tional as anti-immigration the American people by preadvocates who argue for the tending to be arch-defenddeportation of all illegal immigrants. Pro-gun advocates ers of their right to keep and bear arms. The NRA is the (most notably the National lobbying arm of gun manuRifle Association) who arfacturers, and its sole misgue that civilians retain the sion is to ensure that those right to possess everything manufactures have the right from semi-automatic pistols to sell as many guns of evto assault rifles with maga- ery type to as many people zines that carry 100 rounds as possible. Therefore, the are just as kooky as evan- American people would be gelical Christians who argue well advised to consign the that we all descend from Ad- NRA to the rogues gallery am and Eve. of American politics right Supreme Court Justice alongside groups like the Ku Antonin Scalia, whose le- Klux Klan. gal reasoning I’ve always Any politician who even thought was way overrated, appears to be doing the has opined that it is probably NRA’s bidding should be constitutional even to keep thrown out of office and and bear “hand-held rock- pilloried as a venal sell-out et launchers that can bring in perpetuity. In fact, we down airplanes.” If this self- should begin by targeting professed “textual original- the 31 senators who, beist” was more rigorously in- fore Newtown, were weartellectual and less vigorous- ing their “A” rating from the ly partisan, he would insist NRA like a badge of honor. that only muskets, bayonets After Newtown, they were and single-shot pistols could too cowardly or ashamed pass constitutional muster. to appear on “Meet The These are the only types of Press” to defend their unpro-gun arms the framers knew of compromising
voting record. By the way, am I the only one who finds it odd that the police are talking about the investigation of this massacre taking months? It seems patently clear to me that all we have here is what we
tice in Washington, D.C. Read his columns and daily weblog at www. theipinionsjournal.com. Anthony L. Hall is a Ba- Click on this story at www. hamian native with an flcourier.com to write international law prac- your own response. had in Columbine and elsewhere: another mentally disturbed and socially alienated kid “going postal.”
Opinions expressed on this editorial page are those of the writers, and do not necessarily reflect the editorial stance of the newspaper or the publisher.
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DECEMBER 21 - DECEMBER 27, 2012
‘You are not alone’ To all the families, first responders, to the community of Newtown, clergy, guests – Scripture tells us: “…do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away…inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. “So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. For we know that if the earthly tent we live in is destroyed, we have a building from God, an eternal house in heaven, not built by human hands.”
that we will each have our share of pleasure and pain; that even after we chase after some earthly goal, whether it’s wealth or power or fame, or just simple comfort, we will, in some fashion, fall short of what we had hoped. We know that no matter how good our intentions, we will all stumble sometimes, in some way. We will make mistakes; we will experience hardships. And even when we’re trying to do the right thing, we know that much of our time will be spent groping through the darkness, so often unable to discern God’s heavenly plans.
‘We have wept with you’
One sure thing
We gather here in memory of 20 beautiful children and six remarkable adults. They lost their lives in a school that could have been any school; in a quiet town full of good and decent people that could be any town in America. Here in Newtown, I come to offer the love and prayers of a nation. I am very mindful that mere words cannot match the depths of your sorrow, nor can they heal your wounded hearts. I can only hope it helps for you to know that you’re not alone in your grief; that our world too has been torn apart; that all across this land of ours, we have wept with you, we’ve pulled our children tight. And you must know that whatever measure of comfort we can provide, we will provide; whatever portion of sadness that we can share with you to ease this heavy load, we will gladly bear it. Newtown – you are not alone.
Inspired the country As these difficult days have unfolded, you’ve also inspired us with stories of strength and resolve and sacrifice. We know that when danger arrived in the halls of Sandy Hook Elementary, the school’s staff did not flinch, they did not hesitate. Dawn Hochsprung and Mary Sherlach, Vicki Soto, Lauren Rousseau, Rachel Davino and Anne Marie Murphy – they responded as we all hope we might respond in such terrifying circumstances – with courage and with love, giving their lives to protect the children in their care. We know that there were other teachers who barricaded themselves inside classrooms, and kept steady through it all, and reassured their students by saying “wait for the good guys, they’re coming”; “show me
STEPHEN DUNN/HARTFORD COURANT/MCT
Editor’s note: President Obama spoke at an interfaith prayer vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting in Newtown, Conn. on Dec. 16. your smile.”
Did their jobs And we know that good guys came. The first responders who raced to the scene, helping to guide those in harm’s way to safety, and comfort those in need, holding at bay their own shock and trauma because they had a job to do, and others needed them more. And then there were the scenes of the schoolchildren, helping one another, holding each other, dutifully following instructions in the way that young children sometimes do; one child even trying to encourage a grown-up by saying, “I know karate. So it’s okay. I’ll lead the way out.” As a community, you’ve inspired us, Newtown. In the face of indescribable violence, in the face of unconscionable evil, you’ve looked out for each other, and you’ve cared for one another, and you’ve loved one another. This is how Newtown will be remembered. And with time, and God’s grace, that love will see you through. But we, as a nation, we are left with some hard questions. Someone once described the joy and anxiety of parenthood as the equivalent of having your heart outside of your body all the time, walking around. With their very first cry, this most precious, vital part of ourselves – our child – is suddenly exposed to the world, to possible mishap or malice. And every par-
ent knows there is nothing that we are meeting our obwe will not do to shield our ligations? Can we honestly children from harm. say that we’re doing enough to keep our children – all Children will suffer of them – safe from harm? And yet, we also know Can we claim, as a nation, that with that child’s very that we’re all together there, first step, and each step af- letting them know that they ter that, they are separating are loved, and teaching from us; that we won’t – that them to love in return? Can we can’t always be there for we say that we’re truly dothem. They’ll suffer sick- ing enough to give all the ness and setbacks and bro- children of this country the ken hearts and disappoint- chance they deserve to live ments. And we learn that out their lives in happiness our most important job is to and with purpose? I’ve been reflecting on give them what they need to become self-reliant and ca- this the last few days, and if pable and resilient, ready to we’re honest with ourselves, face the world without fear. the answer is no. We’re not And we know we can’t do doing enough. And we will this by ourselves. It comes have to change. as a shock at a certain point where you realize, no mat- The fourth time ter how much you love Since I’ve been president, these kids, you can’t do it this is the fourth time we by yourself. That this job of have come together to comkeeping our children safe, fort a grieving community and teaching them well, is torn apart by a mass shootsomething we can only do ing. The fourth time we’ve together, with the help of hugged survivors. The friends and neighbors, the fourth time we’ve consoled help of a community, and the families of victims. And the help of a nation. And in in between, there have been that way, we come to realize an endless series of deadly that we bear a responsibil- shootings across the counity for every child because try, almost daily reports of we’re counting on every- victims, many of them chilbody else to help look after dren, in small towns and ours; that we’re all parents; big cities all across Amerithat they’re all our chil- ca – victims whose – much dren. of the time, their only fault was being in the wrong ‘Our first job’ place at the wrong time. We can’t tolerate this This is our first task – caring for our children. It’s our anymore. These tragedies first job. If we don’t get that must end. And to end them, right, we don’t get anything we must change. We will be told that the right. That’s how, as a socicauses of such violence are ety, we will be judged. And by that measure, can complex, and that is true. we truly say, as a nation, No single law – no set of
Who fits the mass murderer ‘profile’? The Gantt Report sends condolences to the family of children and school staff members killed Lucius in the recent murders at a ConGantt necticut elementary school. When news accounts reported THE GANTT REPORT what happened in Connecticut, Black people in America knew the murderers were not African- matic rifle loaded with ammuniAmerican. Why? Because devil- tion designed for maximum damish White men fit the murderous age. profile!
You don’t like it I know you don’t like for me to write like this, but it is true. White men killed students at Columbine. A White man killed students at Virginia Tech. A White man opened fire on children as young as five years old in Connecticut. Do you remember the bombings of federal buildings and abortion clinics? Do you remember who shot up a movie theater during a Batman movie? According to law enforcement officials in Connecticut, the gunman in the Connecticut shooting blasted his way into the elementary school and then sprayed the children with bullets, first from a distance and then at close range, hitting some of them as many as 11 times, as he fired a semiauto-
Black profiling is easy
It’s easy to profile innocent Black youth like Trayvon Martin. It’s easy to profile Black kids wearing a hoodie or saggy pants, but it is hard to profile a White man. It’s easy to profile a woman that wears sexy or revealing clothes or to profile a Hispanic person when you suspect them of being an illegal alien, but it is hard to profile a White man that will show up at an elementary school, college or other institution of learning wearing body armor and a bulletproof vest with a bag full of weapons and ammunition. Haters say The Gantt Report talks about violence when The Gantt Report merely tells the truth. Other haters say so-called gangster rap music uses violent lyrics to sell records and CDs.
laws can eliminate evil from the world, or prevent every senseless act of violence in our society.
We can do better But that can’t be an excuse for inaction. Surely, we can do better than this. If there is even one step we can take to save another child, or another parent, or another town, from the grief that has visited Tucson, and Aurora, and Oak Creek, and Newtown, and communities from Columbine to Blacksburg before that – then surely we have an obligation to try. In the coming weeks, I will use whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens – from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators – in an effort aimed at preventing more tragedies like this. Because what choice do we have? We can’t accept events like this as routine. Are we really prepared to say that we’re powerless in the face of such carnage, that the politics are too hard? Are we prepared to say that such violence visited on our children year after year after year is somehow the price of our freedom?
‘Why are we here?’
There’s only one thing we can be sure of, and that is the love that we have – for our children, for our families, for each other. The warmth of a small child’s embrace – that is true. The memories we have of them, the joy that they bring, the wonder we see through their eyes, that fierce and boundless love we feel for them, a love that takes us out of ourselves, and binds us to something larger – we know that’s what matters. We know we’re always doing right when we’re taking care of them, when we’re teaching them well, when we’re showing acts of kindness. We don’t go wrong when we do that. That’s what we can be sure of. And that’s what you, the people of Newtown, have reminded us. That’s how you’ve inspired us. You remind us what matters. And that’s what should drive us forward in everything we do, for as long as God sees fit to keep us on this Earth.
‘Do not hinder them’ “Let the little children come to me,” Jesus said, “and do not hinder them – for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.” Charlotte. Daniel. Olivia. Josephine. Ana. Dylan. Madeleine. Catherine. Chase. Jesse. James. Grace. Emilie. Jack. Noah. Caroline. Jessica. Benjamin. Avielle. Allison. God has called them all home. For those of us who remain, let us find the strength to carry on, and make our country worthy of their memory. May God bless and keep those we’ve lost in His heavenly place. May He grace those we still have with His holy comfort. And may He bless and watch over this community, and the United States of America.
All the world’s religions – so many of them represented here today – start with a simple question: Why are we here? What gives our life meaning? What gives Click on this story at our acts purpose? We know our time on this www.flcourier.com to write Earth is fleeting. We know your own response.
VISUAL VIEWPOINT: THE NEWTOWN SCHOOL SHOOTING
But no one but The Gantt Report is calling for White men to be profiled that show up on campuses wearing combat fatigues and carrying duffel bags filled with guns and bullets!
Outcry won’t come White men run the media, so there will be no “60 Minutes” or “Dateline” shows about what type of Americans will murder innocent children. There will be no outcry from the National Rifle Association for improved gun control or stiffer penalties for people that use guns to murder innocent children. There are a lot of violent people in America of all races and creeds. But the type of violent school mass murders in America has been orchestrated, for the most part, by one type of person – the White man! Before slavery, there was a little tribal warfare in Africa where warriors from one tribe fought and killed warriors from other tribes. Overall, Africans were pretty peaceful. Most Africans were harmonious and loved to come together and sing and dance. But during slavery, the African slaves were taught violence. They were whipped, beaten, hung, cas-
NATE BEELER, THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
trated and killed by their White overseers and White slave masters. American violence was somewhat new to Africans. They were taught how to hurt and kill for no good reason at all.
The wrong lesson I pray that no Black man learns the wrong lesson from what happened at a small school in Connecticut. The profile for a school mass
murderer is a White man. Profiling is bad and oftentimes wrong. But if you can profile non-Whites, you can profile White people.
Buy Gantt’s latest book, “Beast Too: Dead Man Writing” on Amazon.com and from bookstores everywhere. Contact Lucius at www.allworldconsultants.net. Click on this story at www.flcourier.com to write your own response.
DECEMBER 21 – DECEMBER 27, 2012
Historic selection: Scott makes one Black in US Senate Tim Scott becomes fourth Black and first since Obama left for presidency
A beside the movie theater where Scott worked.
‘Future looks bright’ They became friends and Scott said Moniz taught
him important values, like how enlightened self-interest requires giving first before reaping the reward of receiving and how growing the value of how you see yourself will make you look
more important in other people’s eyes. Scott would go on to get a degree in political science from Charleston Southern University, which is affiliated with the South Caroli-
na Baptist Convention and touts how it integrates faith into learning and serving. Scott said he wouldn’t have agreed to be a U.S. senator if he didn’t think he could make a difference.
“The future is incredibly bright for America,” Scott said. “We have our challenges and we have things to overcome, but boy, does the future look bright in South Carolina.”
COLUMBIA, S.C. – South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley picked U.S. Rep. Tim Scott to be the state’s next U.S. senator Monday, making him the only Black Republican in Congress and the South’s first Black Republican senator since Reconstruction. Scott, 47, takes over for Jim DeMint, who announced earlier this month he would forgo the remaining four years of this term to lead The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. His resignation takes effect Jan. 1. Scott’s selection culminates an amazingly fast rise through South Carolina politics. Just four years ago, Scott was chairman of the Charleston County Council. In 2008, he became the first Black Republican in the South Carolina Legislature in more than a century, and in 2010, won his seat in the U.S. House from his conservative district with 65 percent of the vote.
Two-year term He’ll become only the fourth Black Republican in Senate history and the first Black senator since former Illinois Sen. Barack Obama was elected president. Scott has been one of two Black Republicans in the House. The other, Rep. Allen West of Florida, lost his re-election bid last month. Scott will serve for two years and then face an election in November 2014 should he want to seek a term. That would give South Carolina two Senate elections - one for Scott and the other for two-term Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham. After asking for a moment of silence for the victims of the Connecticut school shooting, Scott said he accepted the challenge of trying to help the country through troubling times. “Our nation finds itself in a situation we need backbone. We need to make some very difficult decisions,” Scott said.
Grew up poor Haley introduced Scott by saying no one could fill DeMint’s shoes, but appointing a trailblazer like Scott could show that it was a new day in South Carolina. “The entire state understands this is the right U.S. senator,” said Haley, who became South Carolina’s first female governor in 2010. Scott grew up in poverty in North Charleston. His parents divorced when he was 7, and he remembered his mom working 16 hours a day to support him and his brother. Scott, who is single, introduced his mother at the beginning of his speech. But growing up with a single mother wasn’t always easy, Scott said. In high school, he was in danger of flunking out until he met the late John Moniz, a conservative entrepreneur who ran a Chick-fil-
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Tim Scott, then in the U.S. House of Representatives, is shown on Sept. 6, 2011 in his office in Charleston, S.C.
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Jenkins to remain B-CU’s head football coach See page B2
December 21 - December 27, 2012
SHARING BLACK LIFE, STATEWIDE
SOUTH FLORIDA / TREASURE COAST AREA
Blame Mayans for end of world fears See page B3
THE LIFE & DEATH OF BY PENNY DICKERSON SPECIAL TO THE FLORIDA COURIER
ast week, America and much of the world was transfixed by tragedy. The basic facts are now known worldwide. A lone gunman, a troubled young man with a mind for destruction, killed his mother with her own gun. Then he turned the idyllic Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., into a scene of horrific chaos and carnage before killing himself. Twenty children and six adults, including the school’s principal, were killed in the worst shooting – to date – at a primary school in U.S. history.
Thousands of murders An unemotional statistical review indicates that the 27 murders were drops in the proverbial gallons of blood that are shed daily as a consequence of gun violence in America. According to the University of Chicago Crime Lab and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, America averages 87 gun deaths a day, with an average of 183 people injured a day. In Chicago alone, more than 4,000 youth ages 21 or younger have been shot in the last four years. In Jacksonville – long known as the murder capital of Florida, and “ground zero” for this Florida Courier series – crime is down, as it is all over the state. Still, Jacksonville has maintained the dubious distinction of having the highest homicide rate of all of Florida’s largest counties for 11 of the last 12 years, according to state statistics. There were 81 murders in Duval County in 2010. There were 76 murders in Duval County in 2011. And as we close in on the end of the year 2012, there have been 99 homicides, according to a database maintained by the Florida Times-Union newspaper.
This is the first in a series of stories framing the life of James Roland Jackson III, known as ‘Jimmy’ to his family.
Died without notice One of the 46 Black men killed by gun violence in Jacksonville this year was James
No media coverage In February, 17-year-old Trayvon Martin, an unarmed Black teen who was visiting his father, was shot dead by a White man in Sanford. On the day after Thanksgiving, 17-year-old Jordan Davis, an unarmed Black teen who was a passenger sitting in a parked vehicle, was shot to death by a White man in Jacksonville. Both shootings ignited fury over the senseless deaths of two young Black men whose deaths came at the hands of White men who claimed to be “standing their ground” under Florida law. Jackson’s death was different. He was at a strip club, not at an elementary school or at his father’s home or at a gas station blasting music with friends in a vehicle. He was a grown man with a child of his own, not an elementary school student or a teenager. And witnesses say Jackson’s killer or killers were Black. No Jacksonville-area media reported on the shooting or Jackson’s unexpected and violent death. Two months later, however, a broadcast news affiliate did spotlight the local shooting of a dog during an August 20 local news segment.
What to expect
‘Homicide’ vs. ‘murder’ (According to the database, “a ‘homicide’ is one person killing another person, no matter the reason. A person killing another is called a ‘murder’ when it is deemed a crime. There are many gradations of murder, but they generally fall into premeditated murder, felony murder during the commission of a crime and manslaughter. Homicides would include justifiable, excusable or accidental killings, and are not deemed a crime.”) Of the 99 Duval County homicides currently listed in the newspaper’s “First Coast Homicide” database, 71 involved deadly shootings. Fifty-six of the 71 shooting victims were Black. Forty-six of the 56 Black homicide victims were males.
CHARLES W. CHERRY II / FLORIDA COURIER
Pallbearers carry the body of Jimmy Jackson to his grave in an Apopka cemetery. Jackson was 26 years old when he was shot to death. Pictures at top courtesy of the family of Jimmy Jackson. Roland Jackson III, known as “Jimmy” to his family and “Exclusively J” to those in Florida’s rap game. He was 26 when he was shot four times at the Silver Fox, a Jacksonville-area strip club on June 2 at approximately 4 a.m. He died 10 days later at Shands Hospital Jacksonville. Jimmy, a young father who
attended Florida A&M University and had just started a new job, largely became a case number to everyone but his family and a few close friends. That’s the fate of so many young Black men who are killed by sudden gun violence in American cities, large and small. He became Incident No. 408400 at the Jacksonville Sher-
iff’s Office. He was Case No. 120400973 in the Office of the Medical Examiner, District 4, which performed an autopsy on his dead body. After his homegoing service in Orlando and subsequent burial in Apopka, he became State File No. 2012225476 on his death certificate.
In a multiple story series, Florida Courier readers will learn more about James Roland Jackson III’s life: his birth, his childhood, his education, his accomplishments, his aspirations. The series also will delve into his hospital stay and subsequent death. Jackson remained in critical condition at Shands Jacksonville for 10 days without medical insurance. His funeral challenged his family’s finances and an ongoing murder investigation has stalled. Readers will get to know how the murder emotionally devastated his surviving family members as they attempt to navigate the disjointed, informal support system for families of murder victims. The series also will take a hard look at the Silver Fox nightclub, the site of multiple killings. There will be interviews with Christopher Chestnut, the Jackson family attorney who is suing the club and who serves as the family’s legal advocate; and with Detective Bobbie Bowers – the homicide investigator charged with bringing Jimmy’s killers to justice. The series will conclude by examining the circumstances surrounding the shooting deaths of some of the 33 African-Americans who were shot to death – just in Jacksonville – since Jimmy’s murder on June 12. Next in the series: Part 1: Who was Jimmy Jackson?
Matthew Kauffman of the Hartford Courant (MCT) contributed to this report.
Names of those killed On Dec. 16, President Obama spoke at an interfaith prayer vigil for the victims of the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting. He read slowly the first names of each of the 20 children who where shot dead. In Jacksonville and other places around the country, there are very few public acknowledgements – other than funerals and a few media reports – of the existence of murder victims as identifiable human beings. Here are the first names of the 33 African-Americans in Duval County who were killed from June 2, the day James Roland Jackson III was shot, until Dec. 18, the day this article was prepared:
Traci. Enoch. Demetres. Marvette. Lawrence. Timmie. Julius. Roshawn. Douglas. Angelita. Antonio. Rafeal. Marquita. Rakeem. Larry. Richard. Edward. Rayfield. Ranod. Michael. Christopher. Antonyo. George. Phillipe. Lance. Christopher. Stephen. Michael. Verlon. Rolisha. Jordan. Telia. Russell.
CALENDAR • OBIT
DECEMBER 21 - DECEMBER 27, 2012
Jenkins to remain head coach at B-CU Winning coach was named finalist for job at Southern BY ANDREAS BUTLER FLORIDA COURIER
Bethune-Cookman University’s head football coach is staying put. Brian Jenkins was a finalist for the same position at Southern University in Baton Rouge, La., and was scheduled to interview for the job last week. Jenkins and B-CU’s administration announced during a press conference on Dec. 13 that a new contract with the coach had been reached. It was the same day that Jenkins was to interview with Southern’s Director of Athletics Dr. William Broussard. “The speculation is over. I am glad to be at Bethune-Cookman and if I am for a long time to come that is just fine with me,” Jenkins addressed a crowd gathered on Dec. 13 at the Daytona Beach-based HBCU.
Southern promotes assistant “Southern is an excellent institution. We were in an evaluation process. You think that you are going to do one thing but God
ANDREAS BUTLER/FLORIDA COURIER
Brian Jenkins, BethuneCookman University’s head football coach, speaks at a press conference last week to announce that he would not leave for a job at Southern. tells you something else. At one point you just stop and listen. I just felt that this was the best place for my family and me,” Jenkins said. Broussard said he personally reached out to Jenkins to wish him the best of luck. “I am certain that Bethune-Cookman and its supporters are excited about his return,” Broussard told the
Florida Courier. Jenkins was one of three finalists to be interviewed for the position. On Dec. 14, Southern chose interim coach Dawson Odums as head coach. The other finalist was James Spacy, an assistant football coach at the University of Nevada. “Coach Odums is the right man for Southern University right now. He presented excellently and combined vision with practicality and we are excited about building upon 2012’s momentum,” Broussard noted. The Southern Jaguars finished this season 4-5 under Odums after he took over for Stump Mitchell.
Jenkins’ journey B-CU’s Jenkins has had success at B-CU and is considered a hot commodity among the coaching ranks. In three seasons under his leadership, the Wildcats have gone 27-8, including 21-3 in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC). They have won two MEAC titles and made the Football Championship Series playoffs (FCS) twice. This season, Jenkins led B-CU to a 9-3 record, 8-0 conference record, a MEAC title and FCS playoff berth. Jenkins was also named
Jesse Hill Jr., Atlanta civil rights leader, dies BY PHILLIP LUCAS ASSOCIATED PRESS
ATLANTA – Jesse Hill Jr., a civil rights leader and businessman who later became the first Black president of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce, died Monday. He was 86. Hill had a close relationship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and helped make sure his legacy would be remembered, according to Steve Klein, a spokesman for the King Center, where Hill
served as chairman of the board of directors from 1979 to 1995. “He was very instrumental in developing the growth of the King Center and really a giant in Atlanta civic affairs,’’ Klein said. “I don’t think you could think of a major civic project in Atlanta for the last 20 or 30 years that he wasn’t involved in.’’ Hill was born in St. Louis. He graduated from Lincoln University in Jefferson City, Mo., with a degree in mathematics and physics, and earned a master’s in
Jesse Hill Jr.
actuarial science from the University of Michigan. He joined the Atlanta Life Insurance Company in 1949 and eventually became the company’s president and CEO. He retired in 1990.
Pioneer publisher Hill was named the head of the Atlanta Chamber of Commerce – now called the Metro Atlanta Chamber, in 1978. In 1960, Hill helped create the Atlanta Inquirer, the city’s first newspaper for the African-American community. He served as
MEAC Coach of the Year and AFCA Coach of the Year. He also is a finalist for the Eddie Robinson Coach of the Year award for the top coach at the FCS level by the Football Writers Association of America (FWAA).
Mum about contract Neither Jenkins nor B-CU’s Director of Athletics Lynn Thompson would give any specifics on his salary or the length of the contract. “We agreed in principal to show love, be a family and to work accordingly. This school was built upon that. It is strong and solid. The agreement is based on manhood, leadership, family and love, which are much more valuable than any thing monetary,” commented Jenkins. Thompson added, “We came up with an agreement that protects both the university and the coach. It is also flexible and allows us both to grow.” Jenkins is believed to have turned down an increase to stay at B-CU. It was reported that Southern was willing to pay its next coach $250,000 per year. Southern paid its last coach Mitchell $200,000 and Odums will make $175,000. “Money isn’t everything. I stayed because I wanted to be publisher until 1985. Inquirer Deputy Editor David Stokes said Hill’s wife contacted the paper with news of his death Monday. It wasn’t immediately clear how he died. “He helped, along with some of the preachers in the heyday of the civil rights movement, to raise money for bond when civil rights workers were incarcerated,’’ Stokes said.
SCLC board member Hill was also a board member on the Southern Christian Leadership Conference (SCLC). “Jesse Hill represented leadership from the corporate community, which gave financial support and authenticity to the
FLORIDA COMMUNITY CALENDAR
here and everything was done that was necessary,” Jenkins remarked.
Glad to keep him The B-CU administration is pleased with Jenkins’ decision. “This is a great day for Bethune-Cookman. I am very excited. We are keeping great leadership within our athletic department and our football program. Jenkins is a great man, teacher and coach,” Dr. Edison Jackson, B-CU’s interim president stated on Dec. 13. Thompson added, “We are blessed to have a coach of Jenkins’ magnitude lead our program. Our football program is in safe hands. Having him courted by others schools is great exposure for our entire university. Other schools don’t call for your coach when you are losing.” Had Jenkins left B-CU this year, Florida would have experienced the loss of two head coaches at the state’s largest HBCUs. Joe Taylor, Florida A&M University’s head football coach, retired abruptly in November with two games remaining in his fifth season at the school. FAMU’s defensive coordinator Earl Holmes, a former Pittsburgh Steelers star, was named interim head coach. movement for social change,’’ Dr. Bernard LaFayette, the group’s chairman, said in a statement. ``His wealth of corporate contacts convinced business and political leaders that we were going to jail for the right reasons.’’ Hill also worked in voter registration initiatives and helped desegregate Atlanta Public Schools, and the University System of Georgia. Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed said Hill was an essential figure in bridging the divide between the business community and the African-American community. “Atlanta would not be what it is today without Jesse Hill Jr.’s extraordinary contributions,’’ the mayor said in a statement.
Jazz and Blues artist Cyrus Chestnut will be at the Ritz Theater in Jacksonville on Jan. 5 for a 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. show.
Ocoee: The City of Ocoee is accepting parade registrations for its seventh annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Unity Parade, “The Courage to Believe and Act,” presented by the City of Ocoee’s Human Relations Diversity Board, to be held on Jan. 21 at 10 a.m. Businesses, civic groups and community organizations are invited to participate in the parade. Parade registration forms are available at www.ocoee. org or 407-905-3100. Opa-Locka: Commissioner Timothy “Santa” Holmes along with the mayor and commission will host a bicycle giveaway Dec. 22 for Opa-Locka residents at noon in the courtyard of historic City Hall, 777 Sharazad Blvd for ages 3-17. Bicycles will be distributed by raffle while supplies last with proof of residency through a current photo ID. More information: 305-688-4611. Tampa: The American Brain Tumor Association hosts its inaugural Breakthrough for Brain Tumors Tampa 5K Run & Walk on Feb. 9 at the Tampa Bay Times Forum. Proceeds from the event support the ABTA’s support services and programs for brain tumor patients and their families and vital funding of brain tumor research. More information or registration: www.breakthroughforbraintumors. Tampa: The National Association of Black Accountants Tampa chapter is hosting a toy drive. Donations can be dropped off at 3108 W. Azeele St. More information: Adunni Browne-Marke, firstname.lastname@example.org. Orlando: Comedian Bruce
R&B artist Natalie Cole will be at the Broward Center for the Performing Arts Au Rene Theatre in Fort Lauderdale on Jan. 22 and at the Kravis Center in West Palm Beach on Jan. 23. Both shows are at 8 p.m. Bruce joins Sheryl Underwood and Tony Rock at the Bob Carr Performing Arts Centre on Feb. 1 for an 8 p.m. show.
Bay Times Forum Jan. 2-Jan. 6 for various show times. More information: www.ringling.com.
Tampa: The Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey Circus will be at the Tampa
Hollywood: Funny man Sinbad will perform at the Hollywood Hard Rock Live
Comedians Arnez J., Earthquake, Dominique and Bruce Bruce will be at the James L. Knight Center Dec. 29 for an 8 p.m. show.
Jan. 13 for a 7 p.m. show.
St. Petersburg: First Fridays are held in downtown St. Petersburg at 250 Central Ave. between Second and Third Avenues from 5:30 p.m.-10:30 p.m. More
Tampa: Tampa’s Downtown on Ice will take place through Jan. 5. Tickets are $10 for 90 minutes on the ice and covers skate rental. The rink is open from 4 p.m.
until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday nights and Friday nights until 10 p.m. On Saturdays, the rink is open from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 9 p.m. More information: tampasdowntownonice.com.
DECEMBER 21 – DECEMBER 27, 2012
End of the world fears? This time blame the Mayans BY TISH WELLS MCCLATCHY NEWSPAPERS (MCT)
WASHINGTON — Scientists and archeologists have debunked the Mayan Long Count calendar doomsday theory, but it remains alive and well in popular culture. (On Dec. 21, according to some people’s reading of the calendar, the world will be destroyed.) “People who are not specialists in the Maya calendar have taken a few quotes and a few misunderstandings by scholars, and they’ve picked it up and run with it,” says Simon Martin, co-curator of a “Maya 2012: Lords of Time” museum exhibit in Philadelphia. “So it becomes somewhat unrecognizable.” In 2009, the movie “2012”destroyed the world in the best special-effects fashion. The cable channel Spike TV has announced a new reality show called “Last Family on Earth,” in which one of the prizes is a spot in an underground bunker provided by Vivos, a company that sells space in such shelters. Vivos, for its part, maintains a countdown clock on its Website. Striking a more positive note, the online stock-trading firm Ameritrade suggests, “Say the sun rises on Dec. 22, and you still need to retire. Ameritrade consultants can help you build a plan that suits your life.”
Series of end dates The end of days has been scheduled often during human history. The Bible’s Book of Revelation predicts it. Many Europeans expected the end of the world would come in the year 1000. More recently, American evangelist Harold Camping predicted doomsday would arrive May 21, 2011, then he switched the date to Oct. 21. Now he’s re-
The Mayans and their calendars
... creating intricate stone icons Like this huge stone mask at the Kohunlich ruins; Mayan monuments celebrated gods, rulers, spiritual events
The Mayans developed many calendar systems to fit a variety of purposes, but scholars insist their famous Long Count Calendar was not designed to predict the world’s end, despite what people hyping an apocalypse on Dec. 21 would tell us. ... carving complex scenes in stucco and stone Such as this image of Upakal K’inich Janaab’ Pakal, ruler of the the Mayan city of Palenque, around 742 A.D.
... building precisely engineered, monolithic temples Such as the 98 ft. tall (30 m) temple to the god Kukulkan, also known as the El Castillo pyramid
The Mayans created many types of alendars Name
Length in days
How it may have originated
A means to track length of a human pregnancy, or a tally of days between zenith passage of the sun at the latitude where early Olmec civilization concentrated
Mayan version of a calendar tracking one solar year
Tzolk’in and Haab’ used in combination, meant to track a common lifespan in Mayan times (52 years) • Carving found at a Mayan site called Quirigua, in present-day Guatemala, on a stone artifact called Stela C; it denotes the Mayans’ mythical creation date: 13 baktun, 0 katun, 0 tun, 0 uinal, 0 kin, which is equivalent to Aug. 11, 3114 B.C. on our calendar
• Long Count is based on cycles of numbers 13, 20; dates back 5,126 years, covering all Mayan history • The current Long Count cycle ends on Dec. 21, 2012 A.D., 5,126 years after the creation date • Doomsday theorists have seized upon this
Recently unearthed mural proves Mayans expected time to ‘reset’ Venus Moon
• Its walls and ceiling are painted with human figures and two are covered with incised hieroglyphs, many of them of a timekeeping nature
But the Mayans were NOT into predicting global destruction • Scholars fiercely agree the Long Count does not predict doomsday
• They say it reflects Mayan belief in a spiritual rebirth at the end of the 13th Baktun
• They insist the count is meant to reset, just as our own does after each Dec. 31
• Writes Dr. Karl Kruszelnicki, Australian scientist and commentator
“In our Western society, every year 31 December is followed, not by the End of the World, but by 1 January. So 188.8.131.52.0 in the Mayan calendar will be followed by 0.0.0.0.1 – or good-ol’ 22 December 2012, with only a few shopping days left to Christmas.” Source: Universe Today, Maya Exploration Center, Great Moments in Science, National Geographic
considering. The source of the current fear apparently is the end of the cycle of the Mayan Long Count calendar, one of the Mayans’ many calendars. The Mayan culture in Middle America thrived for six centuries before collapsing around 900 A.D., according to recent scholarship, because of a series of droughts and possibly warfare. The Mayans were sophisticated calendar makers
and timekeepers; in Guatemala recently, a Mayan mural with calendar calculations etched on the walls was discovered.
Time for ‘big party’ Kate Quinn, director of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology, or the Penn Museum, where the “Lords of Time” exhibit was displayed, says that the previous end date on the Mayan Long Count cal-
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• The Xultun hieroglyphs contain observations of orbital cycles of the Moon and possibly also Mars and Venus, organized in a way indicating the Mayans were tracking celestial events as far as 7,000 years in the future, well beyond Dec. 21, 2012
Graphic: Robert Dorrell
GOLDEN GLOBE NOMINATIONS
Doomsday theories, Long Count calendar
• In 2011, a small room was found at the ruins of Xultun, in Guatemala, dating to the early 9th century
endar and the end of days. “You ask, how do you think the world’s going to end, and they say, ‘Well, it’s something with the sun, aren’t we going to crash into something?’ or, ‘It’s going to be a flood,’ and they didn’t really know,” Quinn said. “So there seemed to be a lot of theories out there, and a lot of opportunities out there for us to help the public to be directed to what we know to be true.” Martin said that doomsday scenarios seem to be a North American phenomenon dating to the 1970s. “It is something that recurs in societies that are looking for answers beyond what science seems to offer,” Martin said. “I think that people aren’t always happy with what science tells them.”
Martin, co-curator of the exhibit, says that because of different correlations of dates, there is some dispute over when the Mayan Long Count calendar actually will end this time. He said you might want to wait until Dec. 25 to be in the clear.
The Mayans were masters at ...
© 2012 MCT
endar occurred 5,125 years ago and was regarded as a significant event. “They really thought of it as the turning over of dates, as the rebirth, the reawakening — the time to really reflect and start anew and just refresh,” Quinn said. “They really believed in that in the same way that we do with our New Year’s resolutions, but this was a bigger one for them. A much larger time frame. A very big party.”
In September 2011, Archeology Magazine published an article exploring various doomsday theories, from black holes to magnetic fields. Even the National Aeronautics and Space Administration is getting into the act, with its “Ask an Astrobiologist” feature including a question-and-answer column on “Nibiru and Doomsday 2012.” (Nibiru is a planet that the ancient Sumerians forecast would hit and destroy Earth.) E.C. Krupp of the Griffith Observatory in Los Angeles wrote an article for Sky and Telescope magazine going through various theories, “The Great 2012 Doomsday Scare.” “In various spiritual and religious beliefs we find evidence of the end. It comes back as a kind of classic theme in the culture that we’re imagining it’s about to end,” says author Ben Winters, whose new mystery, “The Last Policeman,” is based on the premise of Earth’s destruction from an asteroid.
Good for tourism One positive benefit of the possible end of days, however, could be a boom for tourism in Honduras and other areas where Mayan civilization thrived. “The hotels are selling out; the restaurants are going to be booked,” Quinn said. “It’s a great opportunity for them to bring in tourists altogether because the people who are interested in this idea of apocalyptic thinking, whether they believe the world going to end or not, they understand that the event is going to be here. They want to be there at that time.” Locals in those areas seem bemused by it all, Quinn said. While preparing for the exhibit, she said, the descendants of the Mayans asked her, “Why do you Americans think the world’s going to end? And what is it with you people? How can you possibly trace it back to us?”
‘A kind of escapism’ The doomsday theories provide “a reason to not be engaged in the world as it is,” he said. “To be thinking about some imagined future, some brutal future. It’s a kind of a fantasy, it’s a kind of escapism.” Quinn said, however, that when the museum polled visitors to the Maya 2012 exhibit, most people were unaware of the details behind the Mayan Long cal-
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IN THEATERS EVERYWHERE CHRISTMAS DAY CHECK LOCAL LISTINGS FOR THEATERS AND SHOWTIMES
STARTS FRIDAY, DECEMBER 21
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MOBILE USERS: For Showtimes – Text FORTY with your ZIP CODE to 43KIX (43549)! No charge from 43KIX, Msg&data rates may apply. Text HELP for info.
december 21 – DECEMBER 27, 2012
Talking with kids about
SCHOOL VIOLENCE School violence, little heard of until the 1999 shootings at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo., in which 12 students and a teacher were killed, is in the headlines again. Now the nation is dealing with mass shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. As terrible and frightening as incidents like these are, they are rare. Although it may not seem that way, the rate of crime involving physical harm has been declining at U.S. schools since the early 1990s. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), fewer than 1 percent of all homicides among school-age children happen on school grounds or on the way to and from school. The vast majority of students will never experience violence at school or in college. Still, it’s natural for kids and teens — no matter where they go to school — to worry about whether this type of incident may someday affect them. How can you help them deal with these fears? The experts at KidsHealth.org offer advice on talking with kids about these tragedies, and what they watch or hear about them, to help put frightening information into a more balanced context.
REACHING OUT TO YOUR KIDS It’s important for kids to feel like they can share their feelings and know that their fears and anxieties are understandable. Rather than wait for your child to approach you, consider starting the conversation. You can ask what your child understands about these incidents and how they make him or her feel. Share your own feelings too — during a tragedy, kids may look to adults for their reactions. It helps kids to know that they are not alone in their anxieties. Knowing that their parents have similar feelings will help kids legitimize their own. At the same time, kids often need parents to help them feel safe. It may help to discuss in concrete terms what you have done and what the school is doing to help protect its students.
WHAT SCHOOLS ARE DOING Many schools are taking extra precautions to keep students safe. Some schools have focused on keeping weapons out by conducting random locker and bag checks, limiting entry and exit points at the
Parents can help children deal with their fears in the wake of the tragedy in Connecticut
in a way that fits the emotional level of your child. The key is to be truthful, but not go into more detail than your child is interested in or can handle. Although it’s true that some things can’t be controlled, parents should still give kids the space to share their fears. Encourage them to talk openly about what scares them. Older kids are less likely to accept an explanation at face value. Their budding skepticism about the news and how it’s produced and sold might mask anxieties they have about the stories covered. If an older child is bothered about a story, help him or her cope with these fears. An adult’s willingness to listen will send a powerful message.
Additional TIPS FOR PARENTS
Cloe Poisson/Hartford Courant/MCT
A state police SWAT team member runs to a police car as Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., is evacuated after a mass shooting Dec. 14. school, and keeping the entryways under teacher supervision. Other schools use metal detectors, such as those used in airport security. Lessons on conflict resolution have also been added to many schools’ courses to help prevent troubled students from resorting to violence. Peer counseling and active peer programs have also helped students become more aware of the signs that a fellow student may be becoming more troubled or violent. Another thing that helps make schools safer is greater awareness of problems such as bullying and discrimination. Many schools now have programs to fight these problems, and teachers and administrators know more about protecting students from violence.
HOW KIDS PERCEIVE NEWS Of course, you are not your child’s only source of information about school shootings or other tragic events that receive media attention. Kids are likely to repeatedly encounter news stories or graphic images on television, radio or the Internet, and such reports can teach them to view the world as a confusing,
threatening or unfriendly place. Unlike movies or entertainment programs, news is real. But depending on your child’s age or maturity level, he or she may not yet understand the distinctions between fact and fantasy. By the time kids reach 7 or 8, however, what they watch on TV can seem all too real. For some children, the vividness of a sensational news story can be internalized and transformed into something that might happen to them. A child watching a news story about a school shooting might worry, “Could I be next? Could that happen to me?” TV has the effect of shrinking the world and bringing it into your own living room. By concentrating on violent stories, TV news can also promote a “mean-world” syndrome, which can give kids a misrepresentation of what the world and society are actually like.
TALKING ABOUT THE NEWS To calm fears about the news, parents should be prepared to deliver what psychologists call “calm, unequivocal, but limited information.” This means delivering the truth, but
Keeping an eye on what TV news kids watch can go a long way toward monitoring the content of what they hear and see about events like school shootings. Here are some additional tips: • Recognize that news doesn’t have to be driven by disturbing pictures. Public television programs, newspapers or newsmagazines specifically designed for kids can be less sensational — and less upsetting — ways for them to get information. • Discuss current events with your child on a regular basis. It’s important to help kids think through stories they hear about. Ask questions: What do you think about these events? How do you think these things happen? Such questions can encourage conversation about nonnews topics as well. • Put news stories in proper context. Showing that certain events are isolated or explaining how one event relates to another helps kids make better sense of what they hear. • Watch the news with your child to filter stories together. • Anticipate when guidance will be necessary and avoid shows that aren’t appropriate for your child’s age or level of development. • If you’re uncomfortable with the content of the news or it’s inappropriate for your child’s age, turn it off. For more health information for parents, kids and teens, visit kidshealth.org. KidsHealth is from the health experts of Nemours, a nonprofit devoted to children’s health. Illustration by Paul Trap/MCT
DECEMBER 21 - DECEMBER 27, 2012
FINEST & ENTERTAINMENT
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Natasha Jones is a business entrepreneur with businesses based in Florida and Georgia. She has been in the modeling industry for 18 months and was featured in a runway show alongside R&B singer Fantasia, for Outre Duvessa Hair. Natasha has taken part in print work, runways, catwalks, magazines and commercials and will be attending school in the spring for fashion design. Natasha can be contacted at facebook.com/TashTashTheBeast or Tashtashjones@gmail.com. CREDIT: Natasha
J. Cabarrus is a six-year veteran to the modeling industry based in Atlanta, Ga. He has been featured as an extra for “Big Mommas, Like Father, Like Son,” a runway show for Kontrol Magazine, and the “Naked Black Justice” campaign by photographer James C. Lewis. His hobbies include traveling, working out and reading with dreams of becoming an international face of fashion. You can reach J. at JerryCabarrus@gmail.com or facebook.com/jcabarrusnow. CREDIT: Nathan Pearcy
Domino’s sues governor over health care law ASSOCIATED PRESS
DETROIT — The founder of Domino’s Pizza is suing the federal government over mandatory contraception coverage in the health care law. Tom Monaghan, a devout Roman Catholic, says contraception isn’t health care but a “gravely immoral” practice. He filed a lawsuit on Dec. 14 in federal court. It also lists as a plaintiff Domino’s Farms, a Michigan office park complex that Monaghan owns. Monaghan offers health insurance that excludes contraception and abortion for employees. The new federal law requires employers to offer insurance including contraception coverage or risk fines. Monaghan says the law violates his rights, and is asking a judge to strike down the mandate. There are similar lawsuits pending nationwide. A message left for Monaghan’s attorney, Richard Thompson, was not immediately returned. The government says the contraception mandate benefits women.
Racism raises ugly head during tragedy FROM WIRE REPORTS
Racists had no problem exposing themselves to the world Sunday night during President Obama‘s appearance in Newtown, Conn., to pay tribute to the victims of the Sandy Hook elementary school shootings, Profanity-laced tweets included racial epithets against the president when NBC interrupted the Sunday night game between the San Francisco 49ers and New England Patriots. One of the racially charged tweets came from a University of North Alabama (UNA) football player who is no longer on the team, according to officials. Bradley Patterson tweeted, “Take that n****r off the TV, we want to watch some football.” After Patterson’s tweet, Mark Linder, the school’s Athletic Director, sent out his own saying, “Thx 2 everyone who brought to our attention. @UNAAthletics does not condone. He is no longer a member of the team.”
Jamie Foxx and Kerry Washington are shown during a scene in “Django Unchained,’’ which debuts this month.
Foxx on school shooting: Movie violence plays role ASSOCIATED PRESS
Hollywood has responded to the rampage at a Connecticut elementary school by pulling back on its offerings, and one star says the entertainment industry should take some responsibility for such violence. Jamie Foxx, one of the industry’s biggest stars, said a day after the Sandy Hook shootings while promoting Quentin Tarantino’s upcoming ultra-violent spaghetti Western-style film about slavery, “Django Unchained.’’ Foxx said actors can’t ignore the fact that movie violence can influence people. “We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have a sort of influence,” Foxx said in an interview. “It does.”
In true Tarantino form, buckets of blood explode from characters as they are shot or shredded to pieces by rabid dogs in “Django Unchained.” Tarantino, whose credits include “Pulp Fiction” and the “Kill Bill” volumes, said he was tired of defending his films each time the U.S. is shocked by gun violence. He said “tragedies happen” and blame should fall on those guilty of the crimes.
Violent shows postponed Foxx’s co-star Kerry Washington said she believes the film’s explicit brutality serves an important purpose in educating audiences about the atrocities of slavery. “I do think that it’s important when we have the opportunity to talk about violence and not just kind of have it as enter-
tainment, but connect it to the wrongs, the injustices, the social ills,” she said. In response to the Newtown shootings, premieres for Tom Cruise’s new action movie, “Jack Reacher,” in Pittsburgh and the family comedy “Parental Guidance” in Los Angeles were postponed. Also, Fox pulled new episodes of “Family Guy” and “American Dad” that were to air Sunday to avoid potentially sensitive content. The originally scheduled episode of “Family Guy” had Peter telling his own version of the nativity story. The “American Dad” episode told the story of a demon that punished naughty children at Christmas. Both series substituted reruns. Fox’s “The Cleveland Show” also was swapped for another rerun of that series out of the same concern.
DECEMBER 21 – DECEMBER 27, 2012
Sniffle Snatcher, Sweet Apple Pumpkin Pie, Flu Fighter, Cranbanana Blast, Sweet Potato Pick-Me-Up From family Features
t can be challenging to eat right during the holidays, especially when the entire season seems filled with hearty meals, rich dishes and sweet treats. While it’s okay to moderately splurge before kick-starting the New Year with a healthy diet, it’s important to build momentum prior to January 1 by making smart dietary decisions over the holidays to ensure a healthy immune system during the winter months and increased energy for burning off those extra calories.
How Much Is a Cup?
To help you gauge how much produce you’re eating, here’s a quick look at what equals a cup:
1 small apple 1 large banana 1 medium grapefruit 1 large orange 1 medium potato
2 large or 3 medium plums
2 large stalks celery
12 baby carrots
1 small wedge watermelon
8 large strawberries
1 medium pear
Drink to your health A simple way to enjoy a healthy holiday season and New Year is to start each day with a nutrient-rich beverage packed with essential ingredients that produce increased energy levels, decreased cravings for seasonal junk foods, and greater overall wellness. Whether it’s a nourishing morning pick-me-up or a mid-day energy and immunity boost, these nutritious and delicious recipes from NutriBullet will help ensure a healthy holiday season and put you on the right track to wellness in the New Year. The NutriBullet emulsifies healthy foods such as fruits, vegetables and grains into their most easily digestible state. Learn more at www.nutribullet.com.
How many times have you read a list of nutrients on a food label, but not really known how each works to benefit your body? Following are some nutrient quick tips so you’re better informed during your next trip to the market. Calcium — Essential for healthy teeth and bones; also important for muscle, nerve and some gland functions. Iron — Necessary for healthy blood and normal cell functioning. Magnesium — Needed for healthy bones; also involved in more than 300 enzymes. Potassium — Helps maintain healthy blood pressure. Vitamin A — Helps keep eyes and skin healthy; also helps protect against infections. Vitamin C — Helps heal cuts and wounds; helps keep teeth and gums healthy, and helps iron absorption. Folate (folic acid) — Helps the body form red blood cells. Fiber — Helps reduce blood cholesterol and may lower risk of heart disease.
Sniffle Snatcher A tasty combination of vitamin C-rich ingredients, cayenne to reduce congestion, and rosemary to reduce inflammation and soothe a sore throat. 1 cup kale 1 carrot 1 pear (cored and seeds removed) 1/2 cup cubed pineapple Dash of cayenne pepper Dash of fresh rosemary Add water to the max line of the large cup, and blast.
Sweet Apple Pumpkin Pie An antioxidant-rich, protein-packed healthy dessert option so you can enjoy the flavors of the season guilt-free. 1/4 cup organic silken tofu or organic Greek-style yogurt 1/2 cup canned pumpkin or cooked fresh pumpkin 1/2 apple (cut, cored, and seeds removed) 1 tablespoon raw almond butter Pinch of cinnamon Pinch of ground cloves 1–2 teaspoons pure maple syrup 1 cup almond milk Add ingredients to large cup, and blast.
Flu Fighter Vitamin C, antioxidants, and anti-bacterial ginger help keep the immune system at its peak during the winter months. 1/2 cup spinach 1/2 cup Swiss chard 1/4 cup parsley 1 kiwi (peeled) 1/2 lime (peeled) 1 banana (peeled) 1/2 bell pepper (seeds and stem removed) 1 inch fresh ginger root (peeled) Add water to the max line of the large cup, and blast.
Cranbanana Blast Filled with hearthealthy nutrients and anti-viral properties, cranberries blend well with bananas and dates for a tart-sweet treat. 1 cup spinach 1 ripe banana (peeled) 1/2 cup fresh or frozen cranberries 2 dates Add water or almond milk to the max line of the large cup, and blast.
Sweet Potato Pick-Me-Up Complex carbs from the sweet potato will provide sustained energy, and cinnamon keeps blood sugar balanced. 1/2 cooked sweet potato (skin on) 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract Pinch cinnamon Pinch nutmeg 1 cup ice cubes Add almond or coconut milk to the max line of the large cup, and blast.