Archive | December, 2012

State Officials Warn About Scams


HARTFORD — State officials are warning residents to be aware of scammers who are exploiting the Sandy Hook Elementary School tragedy for thier own purposes.

The Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection Commissioner William M. Rubenstein and Attorney General George Jepsen recently issued a release cautioning residents about scammers who may already be seeking donations.

“This is a time of mourning for the people of Newtown and for our entire state,” said Attorney General Jepsen. “Unfortunately, it’s also a time when bad actors may seek to exploit those coping with this tragedy. We are very thankful for all of the offers to help and urge those looking for ways to help to take some simple precautions to ensure that their donations will find their way to those in need.”

The State offers the following suggestions for donating on behalf of victims:

  • Donate to well-known, established charities; it is the best way to ensure that your donation is used appropriately. Find a charity with a proven track record that is making help available to the families and community of Newtown.
  • When giving to any organization, specify the purpose of your donation (e.g “for the victims of the Newtown shooting”), and do so in writing whenever possible.
  • Be extra cautious when responding to e-mail and telephone solicitations on behalf of supposed victims. These methods of solicitation are more likely to be part of a scam.
  • Delete unsolicited e-mails and don’t open attachments, even if they claim to contain video or photographs. The attachments may be viruses designed to steal personal financial information from your computer.
  • Watch carefully for copycat organizations. Criminals are likely to set up bogus sites to steal the identities and donations of generous, unsuspecting individuals. When giving online, be sure to find the charity’s legitimate website. You can access accurate links to the sites of each bona fide charity at Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org).
  • Social media sites can also perpetuate scams. Do not blindly give via these vehicles. As with any charity, investigate the groups behind such pleas to ensure that they come from a legitimate organization. 
  • Both the need for donations and the opportunity for giving will be present for some time.  Therefore, do not feel pressured into making contributions; reputable charities do not use coercive tactics.  If you feel pressured at all, you are most likely being scammed.
  • Do not give your personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions.
  • Avoid cash donations if possible.  Pay by debit or credit card, or write a check directly to the charity.
  • Do not make checks payable to individuals.

Officials said that concern and support for the families affected by this tragedy will be enormous, and so will be the potential for fraud. So it is best to take precautions.

“Donors should apply a critical eye and take precautions before providing any money in response to emails, websites, door-to-door collections, mailings or telephone calls in the name of helping those devastated by the tragic Newtown shootings,” Rubenstein said.” We want donors to be certain their support is going to the appropriate place.”

The Department of Consumer Protection maintains information on charities that are registered with the state and the minimum percentage guaranteed to go to that charity.  The Department’s website, https://www.elicense.ct.gov, provides charity registration information and displays any active solicitation campaign notices for a registered charity or their paid solicitor.

Additional information is also available at Charity Navigator, http://www.charitynavigator.org; the Federal Trade Commission: http://www.ftc.gov/bcp/edu/microsites/charityfraud; and the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance at http://www.bbb.org/us/charity.

Officials are asking residents to report suspicious solicitations to your local police and to the Department of Consumer Protection at 1-800-842-2649.

 

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Newtown School Shooting Exposes Power, Privilege and Politics of Gun Violence


By Ann-Marie Adams, Ph.D.

More than a week after 20-year-old Adam Lanza massacred 20 first-graders and six women at Sandy Hook Elementary School, plunging a seemingly bucolic New England town into unspeakable grief, Connecticut still mourns. For some, their pain is tinged with weariness because innocent children in affluent Newtown died and exposed an inconvenient truth: race and class matter.

Indeed, power and privilege are enmeshed with the aftermath of this tragic event on Dec. 14, as evidenced in public discourse. Most discussions lack context, or focus on mental illness, gun rights and media violence. Moreover, blame has been shifted from the perpetrator and onto societal fault lines: easy access to guns, little access to mental health, and overexposure to violence.

the-hartford-guardian-Opinion

The latest and most deadly school massacre in America, the Newtown mass shooting presents an opportune moment to address these issues, including gun control laws. But unfortunately too much of the discussion has been focused on “assault weapons” with lethal firepower. For example, U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) proposed a ban on “high capacity magazines” with more than 10 rounds.

Sadly, many have unwittingly implied that people in urban areas are not violently assaulted by handguns. In fact, some have normalized tragedy in urban communities.

At a town hall meeting at the CPTV Studios on Thursday, Hartford Mayor Pedro Segarra realized that much and called for an expanded definition of “assault weapons” to include handguns that have killed innocent children and adults in Hartford, Bridgeport and New Haven for decades. Between 1998 and 2012 in Hartford alone, there has been 700 lives lost to gun violence. And 200 homicides remain unsolved.

Moreover, many residents across the state have been traumatized by gun violence. For instance, in 2001 a bullet disfigured seven-year old Takira Gaston’s face, which needed several rounds of reconstructive surgery. In 2008,  a bullet scraped seven-year-old Tyrek Marquez’s head, and he is now partially paralyzed.  In 2010, bullets shattered the rear view mirror of a car and sliced the finger of a two-year-old boy. And after a weekend of gun violence in June left two dead and many injured, Hartford residents held another round of vigils.

Evidently, handguns create daily carnage in cities across the nation. U.S. Rep. Bobby Rush, (D-Illinois) lost his son to gun violence in 1999. For decades, he has introduced bills to stem the flow of guns into cities. In January when Congress convenes, he will renew his push with H.R. 6680. In a phone interview on Thursday, Rush said the “Blair Bill” would, among other things, mandate serial numbers on all handguns. He added that most homicides are left unsolved because it is difficult to trace handguns.

Rush represents the first district in Chicago, now the homicide capital of the world. In June, 240 people in Chicago were killed mostly in shootings, according to a New York Times article. And a significant number of the 30,000 Americans who died by gun violence each year are African Americans and Latinos. Not all are criminals. And almost everyone is somebody’s brother, sister, father or child—just like in Newtown.

To the dean of the Illinois caucus, the Newtown tragedy is the latest “wake up call” to address guns and gun violence.

“We’re saddened by what happened in Newtown. But I also know that in Hartford, New Haven, Houston and Los Angeles, blacks and Hispanics are being shot daily,” Rush said. “It was a foregone conclusion that these crimes would not visit wealthy suburban towns. Now, we know that’s not true. Bullets don’t have GPS. And they don’t discriminate.”

As we watch many around the world memorialize 26 people, who died in Lanza’s rampage before he took his own life and the life of his mother, we recognize a familiar truth: some lives are worth more than others. And race and class matter in how the story unfolds in the media and how some politicians address this longstanding issue.

Executive Director of Mothers United Against Violence in Hartford Henrietta Beckman sympathizes with the residents of Newtown. But she is convinced these victims “will get more resources to cope with their loss.”

Additionally, it seems to Beckman and others that Connecticut’s shooting spree might be the seminal moment to regulate access to guns and perhaps improve mental health policies. More Americans are now  “inspired” to do something about gun violence.  And President Barack Obama recently announced an inter-agency panel and appointed Vice President Joseph Biden to address gun violence in our society.

While Congress and state legislators move toward some kind of action, people of color must also seize this opportunity to ensure that their lives matter just as much as those lives in Newtown. Indeed, they must work to improve civil society. Precious lives depend on it.

Photo Credit: wired.com

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Newtown School Shooting Prompts Renewed Call to Address Violence in Hartford, Other Cities


Updated Saturday, December 22, 2012 1:18 p.m.

By Adam Stulhman, Staff Writer

Long before the Newtown school massacre, Hartford has seen much of its own suffering from gun violence. Between 1998 and 2012, there were 700 lives lost to gun violence. And 200 homicides are left unsolved, according to the Hartford Police Department.

Some residents and officials said they hope that the Newtown tragedy prompts state and city officials to search deeper for answers and find innovative solutions for all communities in Connecticut.

City officials on Friday said one such solution is the Hartford Police Department’s Shooting Task Force, which started earlier this year. The goal of the STF is to “track down and follow 100 of the most dangerous criminals to reduce the risk of gun violence by taking away their guns and rental cars,”said Hartford Police Spokesperson Nancy Mulroy.

With a strong focus on reducing gun violence, the STF is also “focusing on roughly 700 newly released ex convicts.” officials said.

Police Chief Inspector James Rovella said he is working with Hartford Community Service officers, imploring them to work with the families of ex-convicts and victims, getting to learn more about them.

“Knock on their door,” said Rovella. “Build a relationship with their mother, their father, or their baby’s mother, whoever is in the household.”

A Compstat Report from the HPD shows that from Dec. 1, 2011 to Dec. 1, 2012, there has been a 12.5 percent decrease in shootings, from 128 to 112.

Andrew Woods, Executive Director of Communities that Care, says that the problem isn’t just about preventing gun violence, but giving youth more opportunities.

“Kids that are given opportunities are much less likely to resort to violence,” Woods said.

Also, there is also the cumulative effect of violence in the state’s capital city: the mental health of its residents, and how they cope with decades of neglect, some experts say.

Henrietta Beckman, Executive Director of Mothers United Against Violence, feels that mental health has been an issue largely ignored in Hartford, and feels that Hartford has a stigma and perception that plays into the quality of treatment.

“Hartford,” said Beckman, “has dealt with mental health for a long time, and we have been left untreated, not given enough counseling. Being an inner city, there is a difference in the quality of support that Hartford gets versus other populations, like more affluent neighborhoods.”

While Beckman feels terrible for the victims of the Newtown tragedy-and she knows personally how they feel-she wishes that Hartford could receive the same kind of support that Newtown is and will be receiving.

Woods agreed to a point with Beckman that Newtown is going to be getting a lot of resources, but overall he feels that “white people have more resources than people of color.”

“We need an increase in funding and capacity,” Woods said. “We struggle with follow up because of a lack of funds, and it is very frustrating and discouraging.”

Woods also says that Hartford youth that have been victims of violence aren’t getting the help they need, but they have been able to develop survival mechanisms, and believes that if there is a will to move forward, bureaucracies will be able to help effectively.

“Our children have found a way of coping in this environment,” Woods said. “If the will exists, then bureaucracies know how to move.” 

Rev. Henry Brown, who also works with MUAV, got involved with gun violence after he lost someone close to him, seven-year old Takira Gaston. Gaston was shot in the face on July 4, 2001.

Brown spoke about suggestions the community could make to  stop gun violence:

“We are never going to stop the sale of guns, and we need more mental health resources to commit to our children,” Brown said. “We must be more aware of the problem, taking a look into the movies, music, and video games we sell to children and young adults.”

Brown also supported Woods’ belief, saying that there needs to be increased access to mental health care.

“Mental Health is a number one player in gun violence because children at an early age get oppressed by broken homes, and suffering communities,” Brown said. “Kids suffer through an educational system and other community settings that are not as strong as they are in other parts of the state.”

Some community activists are organizing a forum about unresolved homicides: Seeking Closure and Justice. It is slated for Jan. 29, 2013 and will be at the Phillips Metropolitan C.M.E. Church Community Room, 2550 Main St., Hartford, at 5 p.m.

 

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State Capitol Pauses to Remember Victims of Newtown Shooting


By Keith M. Phaneuf

HARTFORD — Hundreds of state Capitol employees filled the lobby, lined staircases and aisles, and even stood in a rainy alcove shivering in the rain to observe Friday morning’s moment of silence for the 26 victims of last week’s shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown

Sgt. John Sylvester of the Capitol Police Honor Guard tolled the building’s replica of the Liberty Bell, once for each of the 20 children and six educators killed in the tragedy. Consumer Counsel Elin Katz read aloud the names and ages of each child, and the names and occupations of each educator whose life was taken.

Sgt. John Sylvester of the Capitol Police Honor Guard rings the state's replica of the Liberty Bell in memory of those slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Sgt. John Sylvester of the Capitol Police Honor Guard rings the state’s replica of the Liberty Bell in memory of those slain at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown.

Callan DeBerry of Hartford, a soloist and congregation member at the North Side Church of Christ, sang “Amazing Grace” at the Capitol service.

“I go anywhere, sing anywhere, especially for a good cause like this,” DeBerry said.

Mark Ojakian, the governor’s chief of staff, said state departments and agencies observed the moment of silence in their own offices, but others visited the Capitol the join the effort there.

“To be honest, there were a lot more people there than I thought there would be,” Ojakian said. “The outpouring of support for this moment of silence has been tremendous, tremendous.”

Secretary of the State Denise W. Merrill and many from her office attended the service in the Capitol lobby. Merrill said “people wanted to be here, to be in the same place with everybody else for this.”

Malloy and the General Assembly also memorialized those killed in the Dec. 14 shooting earlier this week when lawmakers gathered Wednesday in special session to adopt a budget deficit mitigation bill.

 

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State Appoints Interim Leader for Tech Schools


HARTFORD — The Connecticut Technical High School System has a new superintendent: Dr. Nivea Torres.

Recommended jointly by the Technical High School System’s Governing Board and Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and unanimously approved by the Connecticut State Board of Education, Torres will serve as interim superintendent beginning Jan.1, 2013.

Since August 2010, Torres has served as the technical system’s Assistant Superintendent for Curriculum and Instruction.

Before that, she was principal of the Windham Center School, served as Bilingual Coordinator and Curriculum Specialist for Windham Public Schools, and was a Language Arts and English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher within the district.  Torres has also served as Adjunct Professor of Curriculum at the University of Connecticut’s Neag School of Education.  And she holds a Bachelor of Arts in Foreign Service and International Politics, a master’s degree in English as a Second Language, and a Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction.

Connecticut’s technical high school system currently operates 16 degree-granting technical high schools, one technical education center, and two aviation maintenance programs located throughout the state.

The system serves about 11,200 full-time high school and adult day students, with comprehensive education and training in 36 occupational areas and 2,000 apprenticeship students.

 

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Reclaiming Black Men’s Mental Health


Editor’s note: In light of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting that left 20 children dead, The Hartford Guardian is reposting this column, which examines how mental illness plays out in the African American and Latino communities.

By 

HARTFORD — The death of Michael Jackson made me think a lot about the problem of mental illness in the black community.

On the one hand, Jackson’s talents were indescribable. He mesmerized (including me) crowds across the globe with his singing and dancing for decades – I nearly broke my ankle trying to do that damn moonwalk back in the 80s.

Jackson made it all look so easy. Without a doubt, he is one of the greatest entertainers to have ever lived.

But, it had been nearly twenty years since Jackson had a bona fide hit record. His stardom and the public’s obsession with his life, however, did not fade away.

HARTFORD GUARDIAN FB COVERSadly though, Jackson stayed in the media for all the wrong reasons: the bizarre effects of numerous cosmetic surgeries, the child molestation charges, the designer surgical masks, the strange looking clothing, the brink of bankruptcy despite making hundreds of millions of dollars over the years, and dangling his infant son over a railing at an hotel, just to name a few.

Jackson was not simply a little odd; he was pretty damn strange, clearly someone who showed signs of a type of mental illness. Sadly, his talent was so prodigious many people downplayed the seriousness of his psychological problems. Anyone not a mega-superstar like Jackson would have been encouraged by family and friends to get help.

Looking back, it was really sad to watch his mental condition deteriorate over the years. One does not need a Ph.D. in psychology to see that Jackson was deeply traumatized as a child by years of emotional (and perhaps physical abuse) and the psychological effects of being conditioned to reject blackness in a racists, capitalists, society. His obsession with cosmetic surgery suggested a pathological hatred of blackness and a deep desire for recognition and acceptance by whites socially and professionally (he also married two white women and adopted three white children).

Michael Jackson’s death should encourage us all to think more seriously about how mental illness affects the black community, especially black men.

Clare Xanthos of the Morehouse School of Medicine argues that black males from the time that they are young experience major challenges to their psychological well-being. “In addition to dealing with the physical, mental and emotional issues typically experienced during adolescence, adolescent African-American males are confronted with unique social and environmental stressors; they must frequently cope with racism and its associated stressors, including family stressors, educational stressors, and urban stressors,” writes Xanthos.

In the black community, mental illness, especially depression, is rarely ever talked about; it is shrouded in secrecy. As a result, millions of black men either suffer in silence or end up getting help only in extreme circumstances – i.e., in emergency rooms, homeless shelters, and prisons.

John Head, in his landmark book, Standing In the Shadows: Understanding and Overcoming Depression in Black Men, argues that beginning at an early age, black males are expected to embrace an idea of masculinity – a cool pose – that requires that they be silent about their feelings, suppress their emotions, shoulder their burdens alone, and refuse to show weakness.

The mental health of black men is also being damaged by racial oppression. Institutionalized racism affects mental health in at least three significant ways. First, it leads to lower social standing, limits access to key societal resources, and worsens one’s living conditions. Second, physiological and psychological responses to social and environmental stressors lead to adverse developments in psychological well-being. Finally, the embrace of negative stereotypes can cause negative self-evaluations that have harmful effects on mental health.

Unfortunately, few public commentators or friends and family members participating in the chat fest about Michael Jackson’s life (and death) are talking candidly about his mental health.

I truly believe that had his psychological well-being been addressed a long time ago, the world might not have lost this incredibly talented man.

Further, I also think that black men who experience, for example, bouts of depression, would have benefited immensely from seeing someone like Jackson publically acknowledge that they too need help.

This column was first published on racialdiscoursect.com. Dr. Sekou is an associate professor at the University of Hartford. He teaches politics and government.

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Related Link:

Washington Post : On Being a Black Man

 

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Sending Love and Support to Newtown


Dear Editor:

letterstohartfordguardianAs a clinical psychologist for over 20 years, I have often been called upon to train other behavioral health professionals. I have developed and delivered training for the Department of Defense related to PTSD and Post-Traumatic Growth, as well as training related to trauma recovery in the state of Connecticut. After watching news reports and speaking with colleagues who are presently in Newtown, perhaps, it is best that I am not in the role of a professional providing services. For the first time in my career, I wonder if I would really be able to “keep it together.”

Would I beable to be the consummate professional who puts her own feelings aside? My fearis that I would break down and reveal the pain that I internalize in orderto persevere and be strong in the face of adversity.

This is one of those rare times in my career that I’d rather be a mother whose heart and soul aches with the despair that only a mother can attempt to identify with.

Any loss is unbearable, but I can’t even begin to imagine the loss of a child. There are no words to help lessen such aloss; no words to console the family; no words to help understand the loss; and no words to explain why this senseless massacre.

As I sat that same day listeningto my 20-year-old son talk about writing down his goals in life, and consoled my 25-year-old daughter about job-related stress, I reminisced about their early elementary school years – innocents going off to their classroomseach day. I suddenly experienced the intrusive thought of when my daughter wasseriously injured as a young child and remembered asking God to take meinstead of her, and if He needed to take her, to please take me too.

I couldn’t imagine life without her and clearly didn’t want to live without her. I had immediately called my own mother to help me deal with my thoughts. Later that day, when my mother was sitting in my living room after abruptly leaving work in New York and taking the train to Connecticut, she told me that she prayed the same prayer I had been repeating throughout the day. My daughter not only survived the accident, but had a full recovery. I often wonder how I would have survived if she had not.

My prayers for resiliency are with every Newtown,Connecticut parent who lost a child or loved one. Dealing with the anguish and residual anger can be overwhelming, but is an integral part of the healing process. Although I have personally experienced trauma in my life, it comes nowhere close to that which you experience today, nor can I fully appreciate the depth of your despair. Professionally,I know how to counsel trauma victims, but nothing compares to what you have experienced in losing a young child to unexplainable violence. There are really no steadfast clinical rules to offer in times such as this. There is only compassion, understanding, and love. Iwant to hug you instead of just counsel you. I want to cry with you. I want to tell you that I don’t understand instead of pretending that I have answers and solutions for your grief. I want you to know that you are loved and that your child is loved. Only God’s love, grace and mercy will help us all to heal.

Dr. Darlene Powell Garlington

Sayville, New York

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The Newtown Tragedy – Is School Security the Answer?


By Anna Challet

Editor’s Note: The Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, Connecticut has renewed national conversations about school safety and gun control. New America Media spoke with investigative journalist Annette Fuentes, the author of Lockdown High: When the Schoolhouse Becomes the Jailhouse (Verso, 2011), about security in schools and how to prevent another tragedy. 

NAM: There’s a growing perception that schools are unsafe – will policing schools solve the problem? Will we see more armed security guards and surveillance systems in schools as a result of Newtown?

Annette Fuentes: It’s interesting that in Newtown the reporting indicates that the school already had a large number of safeguards in place, such as security cameras, a buzzer system at the front door, and a serious array of locks to keep intruders out. What trumped all of that was the high-powered weaponry that Adam Lanza reportedly had and used to burst into the school. So if someone has overwhelming firepower, some of it military grade, nothing a school has will be able to prevent them from doing damage and hurting people. So policing and armed guards, even the idea that the NRA has floated of arming teachers and the principal, really won’t prevent tragedies, and really will increase the number of casualties. More policing and more security hardware are certainly not the answer.

I’d like to point out also that at Columbine High School, which I visited for the ninth anniversary of the shooting, the school community decided not to install metal detectors at the entrance to the school, or really beef up the security much more than what they had at the time of the 1999 shooting. And to this day, Columbine does not have metal detectors at its doors, nor do they have armed guards at the entrance.

NAM: What makes for a safe school?

AF: In the research that I did for my book, Lockdown High, I found that the ingredients for a safe school certainly vary depending on the location. But researchers in the field of academic achievement and school safety and discipline have found that the existence of security hardware like metal detectors, security cameras, policing, et cetera, actually can create the kind of climate that increases the likelihood of violence and disorder among students. In other words, if you treat kids as if they’re potential criminals, and create a learning environment that’s more prison-like, they’ll behave in a way that reflects that expectation.

To contrast, there’s a school that I profiled called the Urban Academy on New York’s East Side. It’s an alternative public school for students that did not like the traditional public school model. Many of the students were considered perhaps difficult to manage. The principal did away with metal detectors and some of the usual policing technology that had existed at the school prior to his arrival … He created an environment in the school of trust between teachers, students, parents, and others in the community … It’s a school that does have a security guard, but one who acts more as an advisor and guidance counselor than as a police officer. The Urban Academy model, that has no surveillance or security technology or armed policing, has reported no guns or weapons taken from students and no acts of violence, and has a very high percentage of kids graduating and going off to college.

Safety and security are conditions created by strong leadership that is in control of the school and teachers in control of their classrooms, who have received professional development, who understand the dynamics of working with kids, and who do not resort to some of the traditional strategies of discipline. It’s a completely different paradigm.

NAM: Why do you think people are targeting schools in mass shooting incidents like this? What do you think is the root of this?

AF: The Newtown case is not a Columbine-type or Virginia Tech-type. The gunman was not a student at the school. This was not an example of school violence as people like to discuss school violence. We still don’t know why Adam Lanza targeted this school. The reason that a school can be a target is the reason a workplace can be a target – there have been many workplace shootings … It’s important to separate the location from the overriding condition of gun violence, which can happen anywhere … The shooter was a young man with problems – we don’t know what more there is to it. We don’t yet know why he targeted this school. I’m concerned that people will start talking about school violence, and that certainly isn’t applicable in this case … I’m glad to see the public focusing on the issue of gun control. Newtown is different from any of the other mass shootings, and that includes the theater shooting in Aurora. Newtown has put gun control on the front burner in an unprecedented way, and that’s a good thing.

It’s more than ironic that we have just learned that California’s Teachers’ Retirement System had invested with the equity firm Cerberus Capital Management, which owns Bushmaster [a firearms maker]. In essence, the teachers’ retirement system owned part of Bushmaster … The shooting is forcing everyone to look at the business of guns and the dollars and cents behind the very powerful gun lobby, because ultimately it is all about the dollars. When people talk about school safety and school violence, it’s a way to avoid talking about the real issue, which is the availability of guns, especially semi-automatic guns, which are the real threat to students.

NAM: What do you think we should do going forward from Newtown?

AF: I’m heartened that the national conversation in the last few days has really focused on gun control. That is a major step forward from mass shootings in the past. Gun control really is the only way to prevent this kind of horror from happening again. At the same time, it would be a mistake to put energy and resources into making public schools into fortresses, squandering precious tax dollars and limited school budgets on the technology and policing resources that people think make schools and kids safer but that really don’t. The best way to make schools safe is to create trusting learning environments. Certainly an elementary school like Sandy Hook was purely a vulnerable target that could only be made impenetrable with a barbed wire fence or a concrete wall, but that is not the way to educate kids. You can’t educate kids inside a prison. Whatever we finally learn about Adam Lanza, no one could have been safe – he had these weapons of mass destruction at his disposal, in his own home, and that is the scariest part.

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Gov. Malloy Announces A Day of Mourning


HARTFORD — Gov. Dannel P. Malloy on Tuesday  signed a proclamation declaring December 21, 2012 a  “Day of Mourning” in the Connecticut and requested that residents statewide participate in a moment of silence at 9:30 a.m.

Malloy has also requested houses of worship and government buildings that have the capability, to ring bells 26 times during that moment in honor of each life that was taken at Sandy Hook Elementary School.

“Let us all come together collectively to mourn the loss of far too many promising lives at Sandy Hook Elementary School,”  Malloy said.  “Though we will never know the full measure of sorrow experienced by these families, we can let them know that we stand with them during this difficult time.”

Malloy has also written a letter to every governor in the United States, asking each state to consider joining  Connecticut on Friday during this time of reflection and mourning.

“Mourning this tragedy has extended beyond Newtown, beyond the borders of Connecticut, and has spread across the nation and the world,” Malloy said.  “On behalf of the State of Connecticut, we appreciate the letters and calls of support that have been delivered to our state and to the family members during their hour of need.”

**Download: Governor Malloy’s proclamation declaring December 21, 2012 a “Day of Mourning”

**Download: Letter to U.S. governors asking states nationwide to participate (Note: Each letter was individually addressed to each recipient)

 

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Stellar Performances From Beres, Maxi, Shaggy and UB40 at Historic Reggae Concert


By Anthony Turner, Contributor

BROOKLYN, N.Y. — As the reggae thirsty crowd from the tri-satate area slowly filed out of the arena at 12:05 a.m. early Wednesday morning, their excitement for the concert’s solid lineup was palpable.

The newly minted Barclays Center in downtown Brooklyn was the venue for the Sounds of Reggae Concert on 12.12.12 with headliners Beres Hammond, Ali Campbell, Shaggy and Maxi Priest.  And what a smasher it was. Jay-Z and the incomparable Barbara Streisand are just a few of the marquee stars who have played sold out dates at the new facility that is now home for the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets.

Maxi, who got the concert started threw down a glittering performance for more than 10,000 screaming fans in a glam-filled coming-out reggae party. His energy ricocheted throughout the jam-packed venue as the legendary reggae crooner belted out classic hits like “How It Feel To Be Loved,” “Just A Bit Longer” “Wide Wide World,” “I Believe In Love” and “She Gives Me Love.” Maxi was later joined by NJ based dj Beniton who lite up the stage, partnering with him on crossover hits ‘House Call” and “Jamaica Nice.”

ISHAGGY - Ajamu photot was a homecoming party of sorts for international reggae star Shaggy, who at one time called Brooklyn home. Performing with his long time friends from the area Rayvon and Red Fox, the former US Marine demanded the entire arena get on their feet during his energetic set and fans obediently obliged, danced up a storm for the duration of his performance. Shaggy’s set was spiced with all his big hits and more including ‘Mr. Boombastic,’ ‘It Wasn’t Me,’ ‘Big Up,’ ‘Angel,’ ‘Church Heathen’ and the ballad Strength of A Woman that he dedicated to Jamaica’s Prime Minister Portia Simpson-Miller who celebrated her birthday last Wednesday.

Reggae singer Beres Hammond, who made a scheduled stop at NBC’s Late Night show with Jimmy Fallon and the Roots band prior to his performance, had the women in the palm of his hands from the moment he crooned his first note. The Grammy-nominated reggae hit maker could do no wrong as he reeled of hit songs from his catalogue including ‘Step Aside,’ ‘Putting Up Resistance,’ ‘Come Back Home,’ ‘Give Thanks,’ ‘Doctors Orders’ and ‘Rockaway.’ 90 minutes later when the sweat drench singer made his way off stage, the consensus was he was the “Boss” for the night.

BERES HAMMOND - Ajamu photoHaving Ali Campbell close a reggae concert in downtown Brooklyn could have been a dismal disaster. Campbell, being the consummate performer, pushed those concerns aside. While he did not enjoy the same crowd support that Beres or Shaggy enjoyed, he certainly made a good first impression and connected with fans as he belted out ‘Would I Lie To You,’ ‘Running Free’ and the curtain closer ‘Red Red Wine.’

Earlier, Ann-Marie Grant, Executive Director of the American Friends of the University of the West Indies (AFUWI) organization accepted a $10,000 donation from title sponsor BioLife for the University of the West Indies Scholarship fund.

Also present at the concert was the Hon. Herman LaMont, Consul General of Jamaica, New York who endorsed the event. Promoter George Crooks and his hardworking team at Jammins Entertainment must be congratulated for producing one of the biggest reggae concert for 2012 inside the tri-state area.

Photo Credit – Ajar

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