Freddie Gray died on April 19 after a so-called, "rough ride" in the back of a police van. This past week protests around Baltimore turned progressively more violent as people demand answers and justice. The past two years has seen a slew of high profile cases of black men being assaulted and killed by white police officers. While it would be disingenuous to imply all of these cases are the same, it is difficult to argue that despite the great strides our country has taken since the civil rights movement, there are still major race issues in our country.
This past weekend people marching in support of Freddie Gray tried to shut down the city. In fact during the Red Sox vs. Orioles game on Saturday night, a message was displayed telling fans to stay in the park at the end of the game as it was deemed by the mayor to be unsafe on the streets near the field.
It is long past due that we, as a nation, decide what type of America we wish to be. While these new "race-wars" continue to rage, we have elected officials battling over whether or not climate change is real (it is... get over it), we have one political party consumed with denying gays the right to marry and another too busy pointing the fingers across the aisle rather than recognizing their own errors and shortcomings.
While people die on our streets, our elected officials cannot get out of their own way to make actual change.
What would you do to effect real change?
On Wednesday, in Federal Court in Boston, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was found guilty of 30 different charges stemming from his involvement in the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombings; the most several of which include the use of a weapon of mass destruction and causing the deaths of Krystle Marie Campbell (29), Lu Lingzi (23), Martin William Richard (8), and Officer Sean A. Collier (27).
The verdict comes as no surprise as the defense team admitted their client was guilty and there was overwhelming evidence (including video footage) of the Tsarnaev brothers planting the bombs. Throughout the trial the defense mostly argued that Dzhokhar was cooereced into participating by his older brother Tamerlan.
Though Massachusetts does not have the death penalty, this case was tried in Federal Court, and Federal Law supersedes State law in Capital cases.... meaning the jury can sentence him to death.
The death penalty is one of the most controversial topics in contemporary American culture. There are loud voices from the public calling for Tsarnaev's death while others are simply morally opposed to the death penalty in all circumstances. We should know by next week if this 21 year old terrorist will spend the next 50+ years in prison or if he will be executed.
Yesterday students at Pilgrim experienced what I truly believe to be the most important day of the school year. Seeing the Unified team play allows students to understand that though we are not all given the same advantages in life, we all have a social and moral responsibility at inclusion; and the lessons learned by observing and cheering on these athletes is more valuable than anything you would learn in History, Math, Science, or English. And it's a lesson that not everyone has learned.
Wichita East High School in Kansas recently told a student athlete named Michael Kelley that he would no longer be able to wear his Varsity Letter jacket. Michael has down syndrome, and according to the school, had not earned the Varsity Letter. The school reports that some teachers and parents had complained that Michael should not be allowed to wear the letter because he only participated in Club Sports.
In response to this a North Providence High School student named Christian Sermos is collecting Varsity Letters from around the State in order to send them to Michael.
It is important to understand that even in the midst of ugliness, something beautiful and good can result if we work hard towards doing what is right.