- A black man says he was racially profiled by police and security officers while being treated at an Illinois hospital for double pneumonia.
- Shaquille Dukes says he asked doctors if he could go on a walk, then went outside with his boyfriend and brother while still attached to his IV drip.
- A guard then accused him of stealing medical equipment and called for police, who arrested the three men for disorderly conduct.
- The Freeport Police Department has defended its officers, but also appointed an independent investigator to look into the case.
Shaquille Dukes Speaks Out
A black hospital patient says he was racially profiled by police and security officers who accused him of trying to steal medical equipment from an Illinois hospital while on a walk with an IV drip still attached to his body.
Shaquille Dukes, 24, wrote about the incident on Facebook in a post dated June 17. In it, he said that while on vacation in Freeport, he became sick and was treated at a hospital for double pneumonia. On June 9, his second day at Freeport Health Network Memorial Hospital, he began feeling better and asked doctors if he could go for a walk, according to CNN.
He was accompanied by his boyfriend and brother, while still wearing his hospital gown and pushing a steroid and antibiotic IV drip, when a security guard approached. “After receiving orders to walk around, I was stopped by an overzealous, racist, security officer, who claimed that I ‘was trying to leave the hospital to sell the IV equipment on eBay,'” Dukes wrote in the post.
Dukes says his boyfriend began recording the incident and the security guard eventually called the police. In an interview with CNN, Dukes said the guard told the police, “I have three black males attempting to steal medical equipment from the hospital.”
A police sergeant that Dukes identified as Jeff Zalaznik arrived and allegedly told Dukes he was being arrested for “attempted theft” of the equipment that was still attached to his arm. All three men were charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct. Two of them were also charged with resisting arrest, according to a Freeport Police Department press release.
After Dukes and his brother were arrested, he says that “Under the direction of Sgt Zalaznik, officers stood by and watched while my IV was removed on the sidewalk, and it was NOT by a doctor.”
When he told police he was being treated for pneumonia and asthma, Dukes said an officer told him, “I don’t care why you’re here, you’re going to jail.”
Dukes wrote that his inhaler was also confiscated and he was transported to the police department. “While in transit I began to have a seizure, and subsequently am[sic] asthma attack, I pleaded with officers for almost 4 minutes to retrieve my inhaler from the transporting officer, and finally, when I became unresponsive, it miraculously appeared.”
He told CNN that he was kept in the back of the police vehicle until paramedics arrived and then was transported back to the hospital in handcuffs.
On June 18, the Freeport Police Department issued a statement about the encounter. In it, they said they were called to the area by a Freeport Health Network (FHN) security employee who requested assistance.
They go on to dispute Dukes’ statement about having his IV removed by someone who has not a doctor, saying: “This statement is misleading, as the IV was removed at the request of the subject by FHN medical personnel (not security or police).”
In that same post, the department asked the public, “to reserve judgment while a complete review of the incident is performed.”
The incident then picked up widespread attention after ABC News aired a segment about what happened. The news report included an interview with Chief Todd Barkalow of the Freeport Police Department who said: “Our investigation revealed that at no time did any doctor or nurse give that patient or any patient permission to leave the hospital while still hooked to an IV machine.”
“It was determined that he was likely not trying to steal any of the property. But the charges were supported for disorderly conduct with their actions toward the security guard,” Barkalow continued.
Freeport police also released body camera footage of the incident, which Barkalow says shows that his officers “handled it in the best way they could … given the situation that they had in front of them.”
However, Dukes told ABC News that he tried to tell the officers that hospital staff members were aware that he was outside. “I said, ‘I explained to you that Dr. Murphy and Jennifer were aware that I came outside — if you would call and verify with them.’”
He said officers responded with: “Well I don’t care what they told you. As far as I’m concerned, this is hospital equipment and you’re attempting to steal it.”
The department told CNN that Dukes filed a complaint with the city, “alleging unfair and biased conduct by responding officers.”
The department also said it has obtained an outside, third-party investigator to “gather the facts, interview all parties involved, and determine whether officers conducted themselves in adherence to department policies and guidelines.”
That investigation will be lead by Mitch Davis, the chief of police in Hazel Crest, Illinois, who serves on the Illinois Association of Chiefs of Police and the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives.
Florida Cracks Down on “Vaccine Tourism”
- Florida is now requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get vaccinated against COVID-19.
- The state has been hit with “vaccine tourism” as many people, predominantly wealthy individuals, fly to the state from other parts of the U.S. and abroad just to get the shot.
- So far, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses administered in Florida went to out-of-staters, though it is unclear if all those people were tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.
Florida Requires Proof of Residency
Florida is cracking down on “vaccine tourism” and requiring that people show proof of either full-time or part-time residency in the state in order to get a COVID-19 shot.
Previously the state was allowing anyone 65 and older, including non-residents, to get the vaccine. This resulted in people flying to the Sunshine State from across the U.S. and abroad just for the purpose of receiving it.
According to state data, nearly 41,000 of the 1.3 million doses Florida has administered have gone to out-of-staters. It is unclear if all these out-of-staters are tourists or if this figure includes some part-time residents.
Now, people must show a form of identification like a driver’s license or mortgage payment to receive it. Exceptions will be made for healthcare workers.
Vaccine Supply Continues to Be Limited
Wealthy people in particular were quick to schedule travel plans to Florida for this reason. According to the Wall Street Journal, there was an influx of Canadians booking private jets to Florida. Some were looking to book flights there and back on the same day, leaving just enough time for them to get vaccinated against the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, people in Florida and across the country are waiting in long lines and struggling to book appointments on glitching websites to get their shots. Vaccine supply continues to be incredibly limited and not everyone in high-risk groups have received them.
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said this rule is not made to impact snowbirds, people who live in Florida during the winter to escape cold weather up north.
“They go to doctors here or whatever, that’s fine, DeSantis said, according to CNN. “What we don’t want is tourists, foreigners. We want to put seniors first, but we obviously want to put people that live here first in line.”
See what others are saying: (Wall Street Journal) (CNN) (Travel + Leisure)
Amanda Gorman Wows the Nation With “The Hill We Climb”
- Amanda Gorman, a 22-year-old poet, impressed the nation when she read “The Hill We Climb” at President Biden’s inauguration, making her the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history.
- Gorman’s said the Jan. 6 attack on the nation’s Capitol inspired her to focus on a message of hope, community, and healing in her poem.
- Big names like Oprah Winfrey, Anderson Cooper, Barack Obama, and Lin-Manuel Miranda have all praised her work.
Amanda Gorman Becomes Youngest Inaugural Poet
Inaugural poet Amanda Gorman wowed the nation on Wednesday as she spoke of healing, unity, hope, and what it means to be American while reading her poem, “The Hill We Climb.”
At 22-years-old Gorman is the youngest inaugural poet in the nation’s history. Born and raised in Los Angeles, she was the youth poet laureate of Los Angeles in 2014 at the age of 16. She then became the first national youth poet laureate in 2017.
Now, her books are topping Amazon’s Best Sellers list and they are not even scheduled to be released until the fall.
First Lady Dr. Jill Biden became a fan of Gorman after watching her give a reading at the Library of Congress. She then suggested that Gorman be a part of the ceremony.
“Let the globe, if nothing else, say this is true: That even as we grieved, we grew. That even as we hurt, we hoped That even as we tired, we tried,” Gorman recited during inauguration. “That we’ll forever be tied together, victorious. Not because we will never again know defeat but because we will never again sow division.”
Like President Biden, Gorman has struggled with a speech impediment and has been open about her experience overcoming it. She actually used poetry as a tool to correct it. First, she used it as a way of expressing herself without having to speak. Then she used it to bring her poems to life.
“Once I arrived at the point in my life in high school, where I said, ‘you know what? Writing my poems on the page isn’t enough for me,” she told CBS News. “I have to give them breath, and life, I have to perform them as I am.’ That was the moment that I was able to grow past my speech impediment.”
What Inspired “The Hill We Climb”
Gorman said the inaugural committee gave her freedom and flexibility when it came to choosing what to write about. She was well on her way before the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. Those events then influenced her writing.
“It energized me even more to believe that much more firmly in a message of hope, community and healing. I felt like that was the type of poem that I needed to write and it was the type of poem that the country and the world needed to hear,” she told CNN’s Anderson Cooper.
That message came across clearly and the insurrection was depicted in part of “The Hill We Climb.”
“It’s because being American is more than a pride we inherit. It’s the past we step into and how we repair it. We’ve seen a force that would shatter our nation rather than share it, would destroy our country if it meant delaying democracy and this effort very nearly succeeded,” she said. “But while democracy can be periodically delayed it can never be permanently defeated. In this truth, in this faith we trust. For while we have our eyes on the future history has its eyes on us.”
Nation Impressed by Gorman
“Wow…Wow, I just, wow you’re awesome,” Cooper said when closing his interview with her. “I am so transfixed.”
Lin-Manuel Miranda also cheered Gorman on. “The Hill We Climb” notably references a line of scripture that appears in a “Hamilton” song. Gorman also said she used to sing the song “Aaron Burr, Sir” to help her say her R sounds and correct her speech impediment.
“I have never been prouder to see another young woman rise!” Oprah Winfrey wrote. “Brava Brava Amanda Gorman! Maya Angelou is cheering—and so am I.”
Winfrey also gave Gorman a ring with a caged bird on it—a reference to the famous Angelou poem— which Gorman wore during the inauguration.
Actor Mark Ruffalo joined the onslaught of praise, saying that her words will lead the nation.
Former President Barack Obama echoed that idea as well, and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Gorman promised to run for president one day.
See what others are saying: (CBS News) (New York Times) (Los Angeles Times)
SAT Drops Subject Tests and Optional Essay Section
- The College Board will discontinue SAT subject tests effective immediately and will scrap the optional essay section in June.
- The organization cited the coronavirus pandemic as part of the reason for accelerating these changes.
- Regarding subject tests, the College Board said the other half of the decision rested on the fact that Advanced Placement tests are now more accessible to low-income students and students of color, making subject tests unnecessary.
- It also said it plans to launch a digital version of the SAT in the near future, despite failing to implement such a plan last year after a previous announcement.
College Board Ends Subject Tests and Optional Essay
College Board announced Tuesday that it will scrap the SAT’s optional essay section, as well as subject tests.
Officials at the organization cited the COVID-19 pandemic as part of the reason for these changes, saying is has “accelerated a process already underway at the College Board to simplify our work and reduce demands on students.”
The decision was also made in part because Advanced Placement tests, which College Board also administers, are now available to more low-income students and students of color. Thus, College Board has said this makes SAT subject tests unnecessary.
While subject tests will be phased out for international students, they have been discontinued effective immediately in the U.S.
Regarding the optional essay, College Board said high school students are now able to express their writing skills in a variety of ways, a factor which has made the essay section less necessary.
With several exceptions, it will be discontinued in June.
The Board Will Implement an Online SAT Test
In its announcement, College Board also said it plans to launch a revised version of the SAT that’s aimed at making it “more flexible” and “streamlined” for students to take the test online.
In April 2020, College Board announced it would be launching a digital SAT test in the fall if schools didn’t reopen. The College Board then backtracked on its plans for a digital test in June, before many schools even decided they would remain closed.
According to College Board, technological challenges led to the decision to postpone that plan.
For now, no other details about the current plan have been released, though more are expected to be revealed in April.