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Syracuse Chancellor Agrees to Student Demands After Racist Incidents

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  • For the past two weeks, several racist incidents have occurred on Syracuse University’s campus, with slurs being written in campus buildings and some students even claiming to have had slurs directly hurled at them.
  • This week, the white supremacist manifesto of the suspect in the Christchurch shooting was airdropped to students, though authorities deemed the threat a hoax.
  • Student activists engaged in protests and sit-ins to call attention to a list of demands they had recommended for the school to respond to these acts. 
  • After several days, and calls for his resignation, Syracuse’s Chancellor signed onto 16 of the 19 demands, and added edits to the remaining three.

Racist Incidents on Campus

Following two weeks of racist incidents on its campus, Syracuse University’s Chancellor has agreed to the requests of student protestors. 

Student activists engaged in protests and sit-ins on the campus, which has seen more than a dozen acts of racism. Starting on Nov. 7 and continuing for the next eleven days, racial slurs were written in campus buildings and shouted at students. 

In one incident, a swastika was found by a student apartment. In a separate incident, fraternity social activities were suspended after students in one group were found to have been yelling the N-word at a black woman on campus. 

On Monday, a white supremacist manifesto was airdropped to students. Notably, it was the same 74-page manifesto written by the suspect in the shooting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which left 51 people dead. While investigations led officials to believe it was a hoax, it still left students afraid to walk alone, go to class, and be on Syracuse’s campus.

Not Again SU, a movement led by black students at Syracuse in the wake of the racist incidents, staged a seven-day sit-in at a campus landmark. 

They also created a list of 19 demands, which included expelling students involved with the hate crimes and related incidents, enrolling faculty and staff in diversity training, hiring more counselors that better reflect the identities of the student body, setting aside $1 million to create a curriculum that educates the campus on diversity, and implementing a 48-hour response system to racially motivated incidents. They also requested that any students participating in sit-ins not be punished and to receive monthly updates on the status of their demands. 

Chancellor Agrees to Demands

Chancellor Kent Syverud did not initially agree to the terms, prompting students to call for his resignation. During a Wednesday night forum at a campus church, a student asked if he would agree to their list. 

According to the campus paper, the Daily Orange, he responded by saying, “If the question is ‘Can I produce agreement to every word at this instant?’ The answer is I cannot.”

Students then stood up and chanted “sign or resign.” They walked out and proceeded to Syverud’s home where they continued to protest. He signed onto 16 of the 19 conditions the following morning, giving slight modifications to the other three. 

In a statement, he said he made this choice to “support the thoughtful, forward-thinking and constructive solutions offered by many of our students.”

“Implementing these recommendations is the right thing to do. They will make our community stronger,” he added.

Support for Movement

The student activists were not the only ones encouraging Syverud to take action. Before he agreed to sign on, many were expressing support for the protesters. Syracuse’s high profile basketball team tweeted in support of the movement.

Presidential candidate and Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) also tweeted her support for #NotAgainSU.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo released a statement on Monday calling the incidents “disturbing, not only to the Syracuse University community, but to the greater community of New York.” 

He added that Syverud did not handle the matter “in a way that instills confidence.” 

Not Again SU shared Syverud’s signature on their Instagram. They were met with messages of congratulations in the comments; however, it is unclear if they have agreed to his changes.

See what others are saying: (The Daily Orange) (NBC News) (Syracuse.com)

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Bodycam Footage Shows Officer Arresting Six-Year-Old At School

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  • Attorneys for the family of a 6-year-old girl released bodycam footage of an Orlando school resource officer arresting the young child.
  • The video shows the girl getting handcuffed with zip ties and sobbing as she pleads with the officers to let her go.
  • The officer made national headlines in September when he arrested that child as well as another 6-year-old in a separate incident that same day.
  • He was fired a week later because he failed to get the necessary permission from his department to arrest children under the age of 12.

Newly-Released Footage

Bodycam footage of a 6-year-old girl being arrested by a former Orlando police officer was recently released to the public by the attorney of the child’s family. 

The incident took place in September 2019 and led to the termination of the officer, Dennis Turner, a week later. The newly-released video shows Kaia Rolle reading a book with a school employee when two officers enter the room. 

“Okay, she’s going to have to come with us now,” Dennis Turner can be heard saying. 

“What are those for?” the little girl asked when she saw the zip ties. 

“It’s for you,” Turner responded, as the other officer put them around Rolle’s wrists. She immediately started crying and pleading for help, even begging the men for “a second chance.” 

Rolle’s sobbing continued as the officers led her outside toward the police car. 

“I don’t want to go to the police car,” she said through tears. 

“You don’t want to?” the officer who handcuffed her said. “You have to.”

After Rolle is put into the back of the vehicle to be taken to the Juvenile Assessment Center, the footage shows Turner back in the school. An employee asked him if the restraints on the child were necessary.

“Yes,” Turner replied. “And if she was bigger she would’ve been wearing regular handcuffs.”

The officer then added that the youngest person he’s ever arrested was seven-years-old. He continued with details and said that he’s arrested 6,000 people over the course of his career.

“She’s six?” Turner said when one of the school staff members told him Rolle’s age. “Now she has broken the record.”

Background

The police report states that the officers were responding to a complaint that Rolle had “battered three staff members by kicking and punching them” at her charter school, Lucious and Emma Nixon Academy. 

The child’s grandmother, Meralyn Kirkland, told WKMG in September that Rolle suffers from a sleep disorder, sleep apnea, and had acted out as a result of not enough rest the previous night.  

Rolle was not the only child Turner arrested that day last September. In a separate incident, he also arrested another 6-year-old from the same school.

Dennis Turner had been working as the school’s resource officer. He retired from the Orlando Police Department in 2018 and was assigned to the Officer Reserve Program, which is made up of retired officers, according to the Orlando Sentinel.  

It is department policy that officers must get approval from a superior before arresting anyone under the age of 12. Turner did not get that approval before he proceeded with the arrest of both the children. 

The officer’s arrest of the six-year-olds made national headlines and sparked outrage from many across the country. An investigation into the incidents was opened and Turner was terminated from his job. The department told WKMG that the other officer, who is seen putting the zip ties on Rolle, was not aware that protocol was not followed. State Attorney Aramis Ayala said at a news conference in September that she would not be pursuing the charges against either child.

“I refuse to knowingly play any role in the school-to-prison pipeline at any age,” Ayala said. “These very young children are to be protected, nurtured and disciplined in a manner that does not rely on the criminal justice system to do it.” 

See what others are saying: (WKMG) (NBC) (WESH)

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The School-To-Prison Pipeline Debate: SROs & Why Student Arrests Are Increasing…

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The existence of the school-to-prison pipeline has been debated for decades. The term is pretty self-explanatory, but it describes how children are funneled from schools to prisons through multiple school discipline and safety initiatives like zero-tolerance policies and school resource officers. The issue isn’t black and white because while there appears to be evidence, like the decrease in juvenile arrest rates, that suggest it isn’t a problem, there’s more to the story.

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Tik Tok “Skull Breaker” Challenge Leading to Severe Injuries

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  • Tik Tok has seen a new viral challenge that involves a person getting tricked into jumping into the air while two others kick their legs out from under them, causing them to fall onto the ground.
  • Multiple young people have suffered injuries as a result of the challenge, and it has been reported that one Brazilian teenager died.  
  • Concerned parents are striving to raise awareness of the dangers of the trend, and one student even started a non-profit organization to combat pranking and bullying after falling victim to the challenge herself.

Dangerous Online Trend

A new trend is making its rounds on the popular app Tik Tok— one that has led to serious injuries and received backlash from concerned parents.   

The “skull breaker” challenge involves three people standing in a line, shoulder to shoulder, under the pretense that all of them will jump into the air at the same time. But instead, only the middle person jumps while the two people flanking them kick their legs out from under them, causing them to slam into the ground. In most cases it appears that the middle person is tricked into the challenge, unaware that they will be knocked over.

The danger of the “skull breaker” challenge can be found in its name, as it quite literally has the potential to crack people’s heads open. Doctors are warning that it can result in broken bones, concussions, and brain bleeding, among other injuries. 

Tik Tok has expressed their disapproval of the challenge. The app told ABC News that the safety of their users is a top priority and they “do not allow content that encourages or replicates dangerous challenges that might lead to injury.”

Awareness Growing 

This new online fad is the latest dangerous trend among young people, akin to the Tide Pod challenge and the viral Tik Tok “outlet challenge” that prompted warnings from fire officials. A Brazilian teenager reportedly died from the “skull breaker” challenge, and more youth around the world have been seriously hurt.  

The recent virtual trend raised eyebrows in Daytona Beach, Florida in January, when two students convinced an unsuspecting third female student to perform the challenge for Tik Tok content. 

According to the Daytona Beach News Journal, the video has since been deleted. The News Journal reported that the victim’s parents were originally going to let the school handle it but ultimately decided to press charges. The Daytona Beach Police Department told TODAY that two students are facing misdemeanor charges of battery and cyberbullying as a result of the prank.    

On Feb. 8, an Arizona woman posted images of her injured son to Facebook, reporting a head injury as well as stitches and cuts to his face that stemmed from the skull breaker challenge.

“My son was asked to do a jumping contest with his 2 ‘friends,’ when he jumped up, the 2 boys kicked him, as hard as they could, so his legs flew out in front of him,” Valerie Hodson wrote. “He landed hard flat on his back and head, as he struggled to get up he lost consciousness, he fell forward landing on his face.”

“I really contemplated posting this, but I feel there needs to be awareness of this malicious cruel viral prank,” Hodson said.

Facebook: Valerie Hodson

Hodson’s son is not the only child to be hospitalized due to the skull breaker challenge. Teri Smith, a woman located in Alabama, also took to Facebook to discuss her son’s broken bones after falling victim to the prank.

“Prayers needed… Parker was unknowingly tiktok pranked which caused him to fall,” Smith wrote. 

Facebook: Teri Wimmer Smith

Similar pushes for awareness have been seen as impacts of the challenge have been felt by others around the country. In Portland, Oregon, 14-year-old Olivia Ross said she hit her head hard on the ground after she was tricked into the challenge by two seniors at her high school. 

“They just told me we were going to jump for a video. Of course I was excited since they were upperclassmen and they were asking me to be in their video,” Ross told KOIN 6. “But I didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Ross and her mother, Lindsay Zobrist, decided the best course of action was to spread awareness of these types of viral pranks because they expect that many kids don’t know how dangerous they can be. They created a non-profit organization called Teaching Kindness Matters and are working to get school districts to include “pranking” in their definition of bullying. 

See what others are saying: (TODAY) (Forbes) (ABC13)

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