Political

When one of the political writers for the Eagle Eye, Christian Holton, originally shared his story “All Lives Matter” with me, I was eager to read it. The Black Lives Matter movement was one I had seen on the news and felt passionately about. When I had finished reading Christian’s piece, I requested that to balance out the bias I write a conflicting viewpoint. That being said, I structured my piece directly off of Christian’s, and even used the same statistics to prove my point. The story received a lot of attention from angry students and parents. I consider it to be one of my best editorials written for the Eagle Eye.

The online version of the story can be found by clicking here or on the photo above.

The text of the story is below.

Who was Adamou Diallo? Before Black Lives Matter formed into what it is today, Diallo, an immigrant to the United States from New Guinea, was shot dead at 23 years old in 1999. His death was caused by 41 bullet wounds inflicted by four officers who mistook his identity. All officers faced no charges.

Who was Sean Bell? In 2006, the night before his wedding, Bell was shot by five officers. He was 23 years old. Only three of the five officers went to trial, but all were acquitted of charges.

Who was DeAunta Terrel Farrow? At 12 years old, he was shot by police while holding a toy gun. Claiming he didn’t know the weapon was fake, the officer faced no indictment.

Despite these events, the years of 1999 and 2011 marked a time in which 2,151 white people were killed by police officers. In spite of the outrage seen through the media, only 1,130 black people faced the same death.

The previous statement would make it seem as though there isn’t a race problem in the United States, or there may even be a case against white people. Looking deeper, it’s notable the 63 percent of the male population is white while only 12 percent is black. Considering the first statistic with a relative mindset, a black male is three-and-a-half times more likely to be shot by a cop.

Among black men from ages 15 to 34 homicide is the leading cause of death, contributing to nearly 50 percent of deaths between 15 and 29 and 30 percent from 30 to 34. Ranked following health issues is legal intervention. One percent of deaths in the black population of young men can be accounted to law enforcement.

Among the white male population, homicide rates have never risen above 8.5 percent. Legal intervention ranks only as the tenth leading cause of death at below .4 percent among individuals ages 20 to 24.

Putting the obvious issue in the legal system aside, the biggest problem would seem to be civilian violent crime. Of all the black people killed by homicide, 90 percent fall at the hands of another black individual. It can’t be oversighted, though, that nearly 85 percent of white homicides are committed by white people.

Many people know black people in the United States are ten times more likely to be arrested than white people are. Within those charges, black people face felony charges three-and-a-half times more than white people. The argument that black people simply commit more crimes, particularly violent ones, than white people could potentially hold up, just not ethically.

Ethnic minorities, such as black people, make up the majority of urban communities, all of which are much more heavily policed than suburban or rural areas. This idea immediately creates a susceptibility for black people to be arrested. For example, although white people and black people are said to use marijuana at fairly similar rates, black people are over four times more likely to face prison time for doing so.

When speaking of increasing police brutality across race lines, it’s also hard to take only killings into account. It is hard to find accurate statistics of killings by police. Local law enforcement practices are not obliged to report killings in the line of duty. Federal reports may leave out any killings involving federal officers. If an officer shoots someone outside of his patrol area, the death doesn’t have to be counted. The Federal Bureau of Investigation also reported virtually no killings in a few of the U.S.’s most populous states: New York, Florida and Illinois.

The lack of statistical reports doesn’t discourage the newfound equality movements. Black Lives Matter is one of the most powerful movements of the past few years and has now picked up some speed and a large crowd since the increase of media attention towards cop killings of young black people.

When one black individual kills another, the perpetrator goes to jail for life. In some circumstances, a white officer can kill a black civilian with a dozen or so witnesses and face no more punishment than paid leave.

The terms “black lives matter” and “all lives matter” are not seperate, mutually exclusive things. The only reason for the specification of black lives is because society has shown itdoesn’t agree.

This isn’t a new thing. In the 1950s and ‘60s, the civil rights movement took off with marches of all sorts, peaceful, violent, large and small, with similar aims — full legal and societal equality. In the ‘70s, individuals of lower socioeconomic status and their sympathizers took to the streets to support equality in education. In the ‘80s, protesters were killed during race riots in Miami. In the ‘90s, quite a bit of Los Angeles lit up after the Rodney King beating. In the early 2000s, protestors marched, fought and sat against injustice in the legal system.

Now, in the 2010s, history is repeating itself because the aim of the original has yet to be obtained. Black Lives Matter wasn’t big until recently. As a movement, it was not and is not instituted to insinuate white lives, Hispanic lives, Native American lives or cop lives don’t matter. The backing of the movement is that although all lives do matter, all aren’t treated as though they do.

Published: Eagle Eye. Volume 15, Issue 1. Pages 10 & 11. October 2015.

 

Feature

The online version of the story can be found by clicking here or on the photo above.

The text of the story is below.

Despite Joe Wren’s unwavering love for football, the 10-year-old will never be able to play: Born without abdominal muscles and kidneys that don’t work well, he can’t participate in any competitive sports.

But the Mountain Vista football team made his dream come true for a night when it invited him to suit up for a recent football game.

“He has a way of getting into people’s hearts,” said his mother, Sherie Wren. “Down on that sideline, he really feels like he’s part of the gang. Of course, he’s little because of his kidney failure from birth — these guys just make him feel like he’s 6 feet tall.”

Joe, who lives in south Jefferson County, was born with Eagle-Barrett Syndrome, also known as Prune Belly Syndrome, a rare disorder characterized by the partial or complete absence of stomach muscles that can lead to chronic kidney failure. When he was four, he received a kidney transplant. But his body has been rejecting the new kidney for the past few years. He is undergoing treatment to help his body fight the rejection.

“Right now, he’s looking good, but like with a lot of kids with kidney failure, he can look totally fine and everything can change on a dime,” his mother said. “He likes to keep up appearances and keep up with his peers, but it takes an extra toll on him. We’re here tonight, but you never know when we’re going to end up in the hospital.”

In mid-October, the seniors on Vista’s varsity team visited Children’s Hospital to set up arts and crafts as part of their community service for the year. There, they met Joe, who persuaded the players to throw a football with him.

"Joe, and a lot of the kids at Children’s Hospital, can’t do what we do every day,” linebacker Coby Petau said. “They can’t strap on a helmet. They can’t play on a field. It kind of changes my perspective knowing I get to do something that not everyone can do every day.”

Before the seniors left that night, Joe was playing quarterback, yelling at players who missed a catch and sending them to the bench on the makeshift field in the hospital lobby. By the end of the visit, the team decided to make him an honorary player and captain for the Golden Eagles during the Oct. 30 game against Highlands Ranch High School.

“It can be very humbling and very moving for the players to understand how fortunate they are,” varsity head coach Ric Cash said. “This team is about more than just playing football – it’s about the experience and the life lessons.”

At the game, Joe led the Eagles out of the tunnel and onto the field. Whenever the team fell behind, Joe talked them up in the huddle.

“Next time that you play up there, when it’s your turn, knock those guys down, try to,” he told the defensive line, “try to be bulldogs.”

“OK,” lineman Andy Cano said. “We’ll be some bulldogs out there.”

“Yes, sir,” Petau said.

The road to wellness for Joe requires repeated trips to the hospital for the anti-rejection therapy he needs to help his body accept the transplant. So far, his kidney is responding positively, Sherie Wren said. His final treatment was scheduled for this week.

“He has taught us to never give up,” she said. “Before he was born, the doctors said he had a slim chance of living and, if he did, he would have a low quality of life. When people meet him, they’re like ‘You’re kidding, right?’ Now, we have a mini-superstar on our hands.”

Find video of Joe Wren and Mountain Vista football players here.

Katie Pickrell is a senior at Mountain Vista High School and editor of Mountain Vista Media.

Published: Highlands Ranch Herald. Page 5. November 2015.

 

In the 83rd minute of the game against Ireland, Mallory Pugh made history — again — when she headed in a goal during her debut on the U.S. women’s national soccer team: She became the sixth-youngest player in history to score a goal for the USA, the youngest to do so over the past 16 years and only the 19th of any age to score in a debut game.

“It was amazing,” said Pugh, 17, a senior at Mountain Vista High School. “When I first went in the game, I was super nervous — and most people can relate to that. But if you just go in and start playing, everything goes away. That’s kind of what happened to me.”

The Jan. 23 game played in San Diego ended with a 5-0 win for the U.S.

The top recruit in the nation for her class, Pugh — a forward for Vista and Real Colorado — was named to the U.S. Women’s National Team in December.

But this is only the latest in her string of accomplishments:

Pugh finished her U-17 career with 15 international goals in 12 appearances including the game-winner against Japan in her final U-17 matchup in February 2014. She was then called up to the U-20 team, making her the youngest on the roster. In her first camp with the U-20s, she scored two goals and added an assist in two games against China.

She captained the team to the CONCACAF championship victory, clinching a 2016 U-20 Women’s World Cup berth. During the tournament, Pugh won the Golden Boot for scoring the most goals.

Bleacher Report, which follows international sports and teams, calls Pugh the “future of the U.S. national team.”

Despite speculation she would bypass college to turn pro and play for the Portland Thorns, she has decided to take advantage of a full-ride scholarship to play at the University of California, Los Angeles.

“Looking forward, hopefully, I’ll keep playing on the national team and play for UCLA,” Pugh said, adding that the school aspect of playing in college and the atmosphere of UCLA influenced her decision.

“I know the support system around me is really good so I always lean on them if I need help,” Pugh said. “I just try to not think about the pressure.”

Published: Highlands Ranch Herald. Page 5. November 2015.

Further reporting on Pugh can be found in the News Gathering and Yearbook Writing sections of this portfolio. 

 

Editorial

The text of the story is below.

My freshman year, when the state of Colorado officially legalized marijuana, I remember a lot of students around my affluent city of Highlands Ranch flipping out. To their dismay, the law truly didn’t apply to them. It only applied to 21-year-old citizens of the state who wanted to get their smoke on and weed still wouldn’t be distributed in our county per our municipality’s laws.

That being said, they were pleasantly surprised when weed still became more accessible. Getting a handle of Jack and getting a couple grams of marijuana became just about the same thing in 2014.

A lot of high school pot heads moan on and on about how marijuana has no addictive elements and no negative health side effects. On the other hand, the opposition argues that weed is a gateway drug to harder substances like cocaine or heroin.

Acknowledging that pot can be both addictive and bad for the health of minors, whoever’s smoking it now was probably going to smoke it regardless of its legal status.

It can’t be assumed pot use is what leads a slim minority of our nation to indulge on illicit drugs. Saying that marijuana use is directly connected to heroin use is like saying that an increase in spending on technology in the early 2000s led to a rise in suicide rates. Though both things are true, they’re not connected in any specific way.

It also can’t be undermined that alcohol is still just as bad if not worse, particularly as the “gateway drug” many marijuana prohibitionists claim weed to be.

Alcohol is commonly the first drug used by individuals who report polydrug use later in life, not marijuana, although with the new, legal status of the drug, it’s possible this could change.

The United States has yet to lead a movement to criminalize the production, sale and use of alcohol in recent history, despite its similar effects and its accessibility to adolescents. Along the same lines, more kids still consume alcohol in opposition to marijuana.

Colorado has drastically reduced its marijuana charges from over 30,000 to below 3,000 since the legalization of the once-illicit drug. Many police officers, prior to Amendment 64’s passing, would use marijuana as a gateway into the lives of otherwise law-abiding citizens. The law, in that sense, has protected people who don’t mean any harm to civilization, but just really wanted some weed.

Dealing marijuana is still very illegal, as is growing it in wholesale quantities. Everything that is sold is regulated at a 10 percent sales tax plus a 15 percent excise tax.

The increase in green has undeniably led to a boost in the economy. In the drug’s first year of legalization, Colorado reeled in $44 million, $18 million of which went to funding public education. Last year, at an increase of 63.7 percent, the economy drug in nearly $76 million.

Marijuana taxes in Colorado actually accumulated more money than alcohol.

The funding toward education has been directed to building new schools, buying new roofs and upgrading security. All of these things have been much needed in a state that’s closed low-income schools and faced threats of mass shootings, such as one that surfaced last December at my own high school.

The previous numbers don’t include the economic benefits our state has seen from an increase in tourism. Colorado is now one of the healthiest economies in the United States with an unemployment rate hitting an all time low and people running into the job opportunities like it’s the 21st Century gold rush.

The increase in our population is undeniable, and it’s obvious every time I get in the car to go anywhere in the late afternoon or night as the highway’s jam packed with cars sporting various license plates from New Mexico to Texas.

I’m just hoping and praying that states around the country look at the revenue throughout Colorado from the legalization of marijuana and the drug gets legalized everywhere. That way the traffic on I-25 can get a little bit better, the mountains can get a little less busy and all of our nation’s schools can be a little more effective.

Published: The Kirkwood Call. Page 15. February 2016.