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Published: Wednesday, October 11, 2017 @ 1:53 PM
— The silent protest during the playing of the national anthem that started with former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick has spread not only around the National Football League, but, lately, to high schools, middle schools and even elementary schools around the country.
Kaepernick began the protest – first sitting, then kneeling as the national anthem was being played – during pre-season play last year, saying he was doing it because he is bothered by police treatment of blacks in America.
While Kaepernick’s actions went unnoticed for the first few games, his protests eventually gained press coverage, and he was joined by other professional athletes in similar protests around the country.
The protests are now being mimicked by a younger audience, as public school officials in districts around the United States are seeing protests by students.
One recent protest was carried out by a six-year-old, and reports of protests and suspensions have grown in the past few weeks.
Earlier this month in Texas, a high school student was suspended for refusing to stand during the Pledge of Allegiance. The Windfern High School (Houston) student, India Landry, was told she had to stand for the pledge, and when she did not, she was told by the school’s principal that she was suspended.
Landry has filed suit against the school.
A Florida first-grader decided to take a knee during the Pledge of Allegiance in his classroom last month and was reprimanded in front of other students in the class, according to his mother.
The increase in incidents has led some to ask what right students have when it comes to displays of patriotism at school. Can students at a public school refuse to stand for the national anthem or sit through the pledge?
The Supreme Court ruled back in 1943 that students don’t have to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. Still the law. https://t.co/4YBGFzLMRi— ACLU (@ACLU) October 10, 2017
Yes, they can.
In 1943, the U.S. Supreme Court held in West Virginia State Board of Education v. Barnette, that forcing a student to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, then punishing them if they did not, violated First Amendment rights to free speech and the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The ruling came in a case brought by students who were Jehovah’s Witnesses. They argued that pledging allegiance to the United States would violate the tenets of their faith.
The Justices ruled that it did not matter if a person refused to recite the pledge because of religious beliefs or some other standard because no U.S. official could compel a person to “confess .. their faith” about anything.
Writing the majority opinion for the court, Justice Robert H. Jackson said, “If there is any fixed star in our constitutional constellation, it is that no official, high or petty, can prescribe what shall be orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to confess by word or act their faith therein. If there are any circumstances which permit an exception, they do not now occur to us.”
So, if public schools cannot ban students from sitting or kneeling during the anthem or pledge, can they discipline them if they do protest?
No, they cannot, according to Frank LoMonte, the former executive director of the Student Press Law Center.
It does not matter if a student is part of a sports team or some other school group when he or she decides to protest, LoMonte told the website Education Week. Public institutions cannot withhold privileges when employees exercise free speech rights and that right extends to students.
"You can't condition a privilege on forsaking your constitutional right any more than you can condition a right or a benefit," LoMonte explained.
While some school districts have continued to tell students they must stand for the pledge or the anthem, others have made it clear they cannot ban such protests, nor will they punish students who do choose to protest by kneeling.
Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 9:23 PM
RALEIGH, N.C. — A North Carolina woman is mourning the loss of two of her dogs after they consumed toxic mushrooms and died.
Janna Joyner came home Sunday to find Drago, her 3-year-old Saint Bernard, and Adoni, an 8-year-old Labrador retriever, dead in her yard, according to WRAL.
Joyner, who works at a dog rescue group, had four other dogs who were also acting strangely.
She told WRAL her dogs were like her babies.
Joyner took the dogs to the veterinarian who found traces of Amatoxin, which is found in poisonous mushrooms, which can cause liver failure, according to WRAL.
Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 7:57 PM
— Killer Mike has been outspoken about several social issues, including equality, racism and police brutality. Now he’s speaking up about gun ownership.
In a recent NRATV interview, the Atlanta rapper defended the Second Amendment and challenged anti-gun protesters amid March for Our Lives, the nationwide demonstrations for stricter gun laws.
“You’re not woke! You can’t continue to be the lackey,” he told NRATV host Colion Noir. “You’re a lackey of the progressive movement, because you’ve never disagreed with the people who tell you what to do.”
He also criticized National Walkout Day, where thousands of students across the country walked out of their classrooms as a protest against gun violence following the Parkland High shooting in Florida.
“I told my kids on the school walkout: ‘I love you. If you walk out that school, walk out my house,’” the artist said. “We are a gun-owning family. We are a family where my sister farms. We are a family where we'll fish, we'll hunt. But we are not a family that jumps on every single thing an ally of ours does because some stuff we just don't agree with.”
He also discussed what he teaches his children about gun control.
“I'm very pro-Second Amendment, this is why,” he said. “And before you say, ‘What about the children,’ my daughter goes to Savannah State University. There was also a shooting on that campus. Talked to my wife and daughter after that, the decision was we're gonna go to Savannah, she's gonna get a gun and train more.”
Take a look at the clip below.
Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 6:47 PM
NEW YORK — A Chinese food delivery man fought off a gun-wielding attacker who tried to rob him on Monday in an apartment building’s stairway landing, according to police.
Police are still searching for the suspects who placed a fake $31.85 order from Peking Kitchen to lure the deliverer to the building, according to the New York Daily News.
“I was about to go downstairs and he pointed the gun at me, and he said, ‘Give us the money. I’m going to shoot you,’” deliveryman Saikou Tambajang, 56, told the Daily News. “He pointed the gun at my head. I threw a forearm into him so he wouldn’t shoot me.”
Tambajang, who makes deliveries to send money home to his family in Gambia, fought off the attackers, who fled without food or money.
Published: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 3:34 PM
Updated: Saturday, March 24, 2018 @ 3:34 PM
WASHINGTON — Stephanie Cooper, 18, of Yellow Springs still remembers the first school shooting she ever heard about.
It was at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn. Twenty–six people died. Twenty of them were first–graders.
It was 2012. She was in middle school.
“To me it seems like it started happening more frequently after that,” Cooper said.
On Saturday, she and hundreds of thousands of fellow students descended on Washington, D.C. in hopes of reversing that trend, as a march organized by the students of Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Florida, packed D.C. streets with protesters of all ages — but dominated by the young.
“If you listen real close you can hear the people in power shaking,” said David Hogg, a student at Marjory Stoneman High School in Parkland, Fla., who took video as he and his fellow students hid from the gunman who opened fire on the school last month, killing 17. “Inaction is no longer safe.”
“Fight for your lives,” said fellow student Emma Gonzalez, who stood silent for much of her time on the stage to depict the just over six minutes the shooter killed 17 in her high school. “Before it’s someone else’s job.”
The march was organized by Hogg and other students from Marjory Stoneman High School. But speakers — all young — represented students from Chicago, Washington, D.C. and Los Angeles. The oldest speaker was 19; the youngest, 11. Only the entertainment — which included Ariana Grande, Jennifer Hudson and Lin–Manuel Miranda — were older.
Preliminary estimates put the crowd at about 500,000 people, making it the largest gathering to descend on Washington, D.C., since the January 2017 women’s march, which drew roughly the same number.
While that march was billed as the women’s march, however, speakers at that march also talked about gay rights, Muslim rights and featured an amalgamation of causes. Saturday’s protest, however, was clearly and acutely focused on one issue: Stopping the mass shootings that have occurred around the nation, and ousting lawmakers who were unwilling to help stop those shootings by passing gun control legislation. But the protesters themselves didn’t look like a well-heeled special interest group; instead, it appeared as if a massive high school tour bus had suddenly dropped off thousands of passengers on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
“I am here to represent the African–American girls whose stories don’t make the front page of every national newspaper, whose stories don’t lead on the evening news,” said Naomi Wadler, 11, of Alexandria, Va., who organized a walk–out and die–in on February 14 at her elementary school. “I represent African-American women who are victims of gun violence who are simply statistics instead of vibrant, beautiful girls who are full of potential.”
Wall–to–wall people crushed against one another inside police barricades, while outside, the streets were thick with young students, the elderly and parents pushing strollers. Similar rallies occurred in Columbus, Boston, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New York and Parkland, Florida, as well as in other cities. Crowds also gathered in London, England; Frankfurt, Germany; and Sydney, Australia.
Among those in the crowd were Zach Dudzik, 19, an Ohio State freshman from Lakewood, Ohio, who decided to go after hearing the Parkland students characterized as “crisis actors.” He said he was outraged that people would not believe that students impacted by the issue could organize. “We deserve to have a voice and an impact on issues,” he said.
He said it feels like the shootings occur every week. “It’s really easy to be desensitized to it,” he said. “The fact that it happens so much shouldn’t make it less. It makes it worse.”
He traveled with Abi Norman, 19, an OSU sophomore also from Lakewood. She is studying to be a music teacher.
“I don’t want a gun,” she said. “I don’t want my coworkers to have guns.”
She said she has always felt safe at school, but the burden of the spate of mass shootings has taken a toll all the same.
“Every time I got to a movie theater, I’m checking every face. I’m always trying to be aware,” she said. “I don’t think that’s the way it should be.”
Megan Rose, 18, a senior at Centerville High School, said she participated in a walkout a couple of weeks ago.
“I was like, well what else can I do as a student?” she said. “And I thought why not come to Washington, D.C.”
Counter-protesters were present but rare. Two men standing in the middle of Pennsylvania Avenue held signs. “When seconds count, police are minutes away,” one said. “I carry on campus,” the other sign read. “Teachers should too.”
“I respect you, but I think you’re wrong,” said a man as he walked by.
Among those navigating the crowd was Kris Knight of Gahanna, who brought his son Owen.
“It felt like it was the right time to get involved,” Knight said.
He brought his nine–year–old son so “he could see what young people were capable of doing when they really believed in something.”
“It was something he wanted to do,” he said. “It was something he felt strongly about.”
Elaine Zamonski of Kettering brought her daughters Mira, 8, Katherine, 11, Veronica, 14 and Veronica’s friend Alice, 14.
“I brought them because I wanted them to see that people’s voices have power,” she said. “In a conservative district like Kettering, they sometimes feel lonely in their views and rallies are inspiring.”
Before coming to the March for our Lives in Washington, D.C., on Saturday, Barbara Carr of Buffalo, N.Y., sat down with a pink apron and painstakingly wrote out the names of every person who had died in a school shooting since the Columbine shootings in 1999.
A Sharpie pressed to the fabric, she wrote down more than 300 names. She wore those names on her back. She had to do her research, she said, in order to feel that she deserved to be there.
“It was hard,” she said, her eyes welling up as throngs of people crushed around her on Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, D.C. “It was hard.”
Cooper, meanwhile, said she and her mother have had conversations. If there’s a mass shooting, her mother warns her, play dead if she can’t run.
“She gets really worried every time one happens,” she said, of the school shootings that have become a routine occurrence in her childhood.
On Saturday, she hoped those worries would translate to action.
“I just hope they realize that we’re the ones who are going to be voting them in the next couple of years,” she said of lawmakers. “So if they want to stay in power, they have to do what we ask them to do.”