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Pittsburgh Church Runs Out of Money During Gun Buyback

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  • Within the first hour of their gun buyback program on Monday, a church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania ran out of money.
  • The church raised $5,100 to pay individuals up to $100 per firearm. An estimated 146 guns were handed in.  
  • The buyback took place two months after the community was rocked by a fatal double shooting that occurred right outside the church’s doors.
  • The event was held on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, in honor of Dr. King’s legacy of non-violence.

Successful Buyback

A gun buyback hosted by a church in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on Monday received such a large response from the community that they ran out of money within the first hour.

The Church of the Holy Cross ran the program in honor of Martin Luther King Jr., whose life and accomplishments were recognized in the form of a national holiday on Monday. 

“In the first 45 minutes, we actually ran out of money,” Sylvia Wilson, the church’s senior warden, told CNN. “Some people were just bringing the guns in and they didn’t want the money. They just wanted to get the guns out of their homes.”

The church told CNN that $5,100 was raised by parishioners and other affiliate churches to buy back any firearms that people brought in. Individuals who participated received $50 or $100, depending on the type of gun. When the money ran out, the church posted a sign on their door.

“The Gun Buyback response has been overwhelming,” the sign read. “Thank you. We have run out of cash for this buyback. Sorry to turn so many away.”

“You can still turn in guns though,” the sign said at the bottom.

Wilson told CNN that even after the money had run out, people were coming to the church to turn in their guns. Other community members donated an additional $1,000 toward the buyback.

At least 146 guns were handed in overall, according to Rich Creehan, director of external relations for the Episcopal Diocese of Pittsburgh who spoke to CNN. Wilson said that the church was only expecting about 100. 

Striving for Non-Violence

The buyback program came just a few months after a double fatal shooting occurred right outside the Church of the Holy Cross. 

“In early November, on this very corner where this church sits, there was a double homicide involving relatives who attended this church and participated in our summer program,” Dr. Leon Haley with the Church of the Holy Cross said at a press conference last week.

“And so having this gun buyback at this church, which sits in a community disproportionately affected by gun violence, is a statement of the moral and humanitarian values we espouse,” he added.

This incident, tied with the desire to honor Dr. King’s legacy of non-violence, is what prompted the church to hold the gun buyback. 

On the same day, a very different event took place several hundred miles away. In Richmond, Virginia, thousands congregated for a rally and Lobby Day to fight for their gun rights. 

“We didn’t realize that in Virginia they would be marching today,” Wilson told CNN, referencing the Richmond demonstration. “We see that as dishonoring his legacy because they’re marching on this holiday representing him. It’s the total opposite of what we’re trying to do today.”

The organizers of the Richmond gun rights demonstration emphasized that their assembly was intended to be peaceful. Although Gov. Ralph Northam preemptively declared a state of emergency in the Capitol grounds of Richmond in fear of violence, the rally took place without a hitch.   

See what others are saying: (CNN) (NBC) (CBS)

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Video of Man Punching Woman’s Reclined Airplane Seat Sparks Debate

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  • When a woman on an American Airlines flight reclined her seat, the man behind her responded by repeatedly punching the back of it. 
  • After a flight attendant was called to help, she allegedly sided with the man and offered him a free cocktail. 
  • The woman, Wendi Williams, took to social media to share her side of the story and express her frustration. The video she posted of the incident has since gone viral. 
  • Some have admonished Williams for reclining her seat in such tight quarters, while others have publicly condemned the man for his behavior.

Tensions Rise in the Sky

An airplane passenger went public with her story of a man punching the back of her seat when she reclined it during a flight, and the Internet has had a lot to say on the matter. 

Wendi Williams took an American Airlines plane from New Orleans to Charlotte, North Carolina on Jan. 31 — a flight that lasts around two hours. The man behind her couldn’t recline his own seat, as he was sitting in the last row of the plane. Williams said he asked her to put her seat up because he was eating, which she says she did. Then when he was finished she reclined it again. That’s when the trouble started — the man responded by hitting the back of William’s seat.

Williams began recording the punches and even called a flight attendant for help, but the employee allegedly brushed her off. Instead of reprimanding the man in the last row, Williams claimed the flight attendant offered him a cocktail and told Williams to delete the footage. 

“She rolled her eyes at me and said, ‘What?’” Williams tweeted. “She then told him it was tight back there and gave him rum!”

Williams has been posting about the incident to her Twitter page over the last week, calling the man’s actions an “assault.” She said that prior to the start of her video, in behavior not caught on camera, the man’s aggression was worse.

American Airlines responded to Williams directly on Twitter, asking her to direct message them with her contact information. Williams replied that she had reached out to them multiple times. Several hours later, she reported on Twitter that she had talked to an American Air representative but felt as if an adequate apology wasn’t given for their flight attendant’s actions. Williams threatened to “press charges” in the wake of her dissatisfaction.

In a statement, American Airlines said it was looking into what happened.

“The safety and comfort of our customers and team members is our top priority,” the airline said.  

Williams also said that the man’s punches have caused her physical pain, and revealed that she has pre-existing back issues. She wrote that since the plane ordeal, she has “lost time at work, had to visit a doctor, got x-rays, and have [had] horrible headaches for a week.”

Online Reactions

The debacle caught widespread attention and the video of part of the incident went viral, bringing in many mixed reactions.

After it was revealed that Williams was sitting in coach, some thought she shouldn’t have reclined her seat with such little room.

“Wendi….it seems you started this in the first place by reclining your seat too far…” one person wrote. “Just don’t recline. And the middle seat gets both armrests. Basic etiquette.”

While some did admonish the man for punching Williams, they still thought she was in wrong as well for reclining her seat.

“I’m calling a double technical,” one Twitter user wrote. “Don’t recline. Especially into the poor sap in the last row of the plane which doesn’t recline AND is adjacent to the lav. But, also… don’t punch someone’s seat, dude.”

Others defended the woman, arguing that she has a right to recline her seat, especially because it was designed with that feature. There was also widespread criticism of the man for taking the approach that he did.

And some Twitter users even pointed to the gender dynamic, arguing the situation was extra problematic because it was a man punching the seat of a woman and a power imbalance.

See what others are saying: (NBC) (Fox News) (KRQE Media)

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Chicago High Schoolers Stage Sit-In After Teacher Allegedly Tells Student ‘Go Back to Your Country’

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  • When a Latina student at Senn High School in Chicago refused to stand during the national anthem, her teacher allegedly said, “go back to your country.”
  • Students complained to the principal but felt there wasn’t enough being done, so they staged a sit-in on Wednesday to protest the lack of action and call for the removal of the teacher.
  • Chicago Public Schools said they are investigating the teacher’s alleged comments and support students who are peacefully raising concerns.
  • The teacher was removed from the school pending the investigation.

Claims of Racism 

Chicago high school students held a sit-in on Wednesday after a teacher allegedly told a Latina student “go back to your country” when she refused to stand for the national anthem last month. 

When Senn High School held a Hispanic heritage assembly on Jan. 30, 17-year-old Yésica Salazar and several other senior students remained seated for the national anthem. It was an act of silent protest against police brutality, U.S. immigration policies, and anti-immigrant rhetoric. 

According to the students, two teachers approached them and asked one if she was eligible for free or reduced lunch. When she responded that she was, the teacher told her that she should stand because people had died for this country. The student left the auditorium.

The teacher then turned to Salazar, asking her if her legs were broken. She told him no and started to explain her reasons for sitting.

“Before I could finish my sentence, he responds back with the famous line: ‘Go back to your country.'” Salazar told NBC News

Salazar, who is a U.S. citizen, was hurt by the remark.

“I felt very offended because my parents have fought hard to be a part of this country,” Salazar told The Chicago Sun-Times.

Sit-In Protest

The group of seniors complained about the incident to their principal, Mary Beck, but felt like the school’s response had been too slow. They held Wednesday’s sit-in, along with other students, to protest the lack of action and call for the removal of the teacher. 

In several videos that have circulated on social media, students can be heard chanting, “we want justice, we want peace.”

Another video shows Beck addressing the students.

“I notified CPS. I notified everybody within three hours of receiving the report. It is all in writing, it is all time-stamped,” she said. “I did my job. I continue to follow through based on the guidelines and policies that we have in place.

She is then interrupted as students start yelling, “So why is he still here?” referring to the teacher. Beck also receives some boos from the crowd.

This was not the only drama that unfolded during the sit-in. Chicago police reported that a 15-year-old student was arrested during the demonstration. She and another student began fighting, police said, and when a 55-year-old staff member tried to break it up, she pushed him to the ground. 

Chicago Public Schools said they have launched an investigation into the teacher’s alleged national anthem comments, and spokesperson James Gherardi said they support students who are peacefully voiced their concern. 

“CPS is committed to fostering learning environments that embrace and support all students, and the alleged actions of the teacher in question run counter to our beliefs and priorities as a school district,” Gherardi said.

According to Block Club Chicago, the teacher was removed from the school pending the investigation.

See what others are saying: (Newsweek) (Time) (Chicago Sun-Times

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Should Freedom of Religion Protect Humanitarians Giving Food & Water to Migrants At The Border?

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The U.S. federal government said that Humanitarians from the religious immigration reform group No More Deaths broke the law when they trespassed on a wildlife reserve to leave water for migrants crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. Eventually, nearly all charges were reversed due to the religious freedom restoration act. The law says that even in circumstances where a law doesn’t mention religion, it can still violate peoples’ religious liberties, which was the case for No More Deaths. Check out this week’s video to learn more about who ruled in favor of the humanitarians and why their religious liberties were being violated according to one judge’s ruling.  

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