Reed A. Kingsmen
So this semester has been jam packed with different events for me but the one I chose for the “Improve your Community” option was working on the D.U.C.C board here at the university. The acronym stands for “Diversity and Unity Coordinating Committee” basically we are a group of six students from completely different backgrounds that work together to make the UMW community better. This isn’t a new concept in fact every year the school elects someone who represents an extreme interest in social issues and works actively to improve the school. In my opinion until this year the position was more symbolic more rather than practical. The school wanted one student to somehow solve all the problems within the student body on their own and to my knowledge this strategy has never actually worked out. This year we (by that I mean the students) decided a group of us were all going to run for this position and whomever got chosen would get to be the Chair while the rest of us would serve as members of the board.
This call for action came from how horrendous last year was for everyone on campus. The main issue that came up in all of our conversations was the fact that we as students had no way to directly talk to the Board of Visitors, which is where all the major decisions were made. The student body basically had to tear the school apart just to have the BOV hear them out, which shows a big issue with power distribution. We also wanted to address many issues that occurred last year that were never resolved that still left the school divided.
So what we actually do! The D.U.C.C tries to attend or remain in contact with all the student led social issues groups on campus, that way we get a holistic look at how the community is doing when issues arise. When we do find an issue or something that could be improved on we hold a meeting and talk about the best way to go about it. Every single member of the Board is president or on the executive board of at least two other organizations here at UMW; so sometimes we decide that the best way is on a grassroots level and only involving the student body. Other times when an issue is too big for individual organizations we pool all our resources together and work under the banner of D.U.C.C, which allows us to organize bigger events within shorter timespans or have greater clout to get the administration to notice and force them to make statements on these issues. And if after long deliberation we see that an issue can only be resolved institutionally we bring it directly to the B.O.V during their meetings.
We’ve collaborated with at least ten different organizations and attended countless meetings with the school just to make sure the lines of communication are kept clear and efficient, and this is just the first semester. Next semester we hope to expand into the greater Fredericksburg area dealing with issues like Islamophobia, Queer outreach programs, supporting local restaurants from different cultures.
Reed A. Kingsmen
Reaction Paper 3
November 22, 2015
Why Baltimore Rioted
In class we have been discussing riots extensively; trying to understand how they work, what happens afterwards, and why they happened in the first place. Based off of all the different examples in class we’ve seen so far I will attempt at explaining why Baltimore reacted the way it did after Freddie Grays death. A city that dealt with one major riot in 1968, due to the assassination of Martin Luther King that costed over $77.5 million in damages alone still had enough unresolved tension to cause another one of epic proportions.
One would think that after experiencing a race related riot in such recent history the people of power within Baltimore would still have it relatively fresh in their minds about the dangers of leaving issues unchecked for too long, and the city of Baltimore definitely has had some issues that have been ignored. Since 2011, “the city has paid over $5.7 million over lawsuits” regarding police brutality. With more than one hundred people suing the city for the exact same reason may raise an eyebrow leading one to believe that it may be people trying taking advantage of the system, but every single case was in favor of the one who pressed charges due to overwhelming proof that the police used excessive force. The African American residents of Baltimore are all too familiar with how the police force takes law into their own hands and drawing the line wherever they see fit, but something not so well understood is how does this keep happening. It’s a never ending cycle of police officers being found guilty, the city paying for the damages, and then nothing in the form of lasting change actually happening. Seeing these police officers not having to obey the same laws as everyone else has poisoned the relationship between Black residents and city officials. The devil being buried in the details, most city settlements have “a clause that prohibits injured residents from making any public statements” about what occurred. So not only have these incidents occurred but the city is using tax dollars to silence the victims.
Freddie Gray was arrested for possessing an illegal switchblade, which was A) found out to not be illegal and B) was found unlawful in a search and frisk. While being transported in police custody Gray fell into a coma after sustaining injuries and died in custody. Gray went through what is locally know as a “Rough Ride” where the police make unnecessary stops suddenly while the captive person is in the back so they are thrown around. This form of excessive violence serves to dehumanize already oppressed citizens, but this time it served as the boiling point. After investigations it was found that Gray’s death was a homicide at the hands of the police. There was peaceful protest throughout but in many ways it was a hostile environment with tension so high that only a few agitators were need in order to tip the scales into the people striking out against the police who had done them so many injustices already.
And then almost like a record stuck on a loop the violence broke out and could only be squelched by the National Guard appearing with overwhelming force, outgunning them in almost every way possible.
From Watts to Baltimore: A Love Story
This section of class has been dedicated to understanding the concept of “Riots” particularly riots along the east and west coast in the United States. The Riots we’ve examined so far have all occurred in predominantly black areas; which makes sense considering that riots occur when people have nothing less to lose and the system continues to put pressure these groups way past their boiling point. For this reaction paper I wanted to focus more on the Watts Riots of 1965 in comparison to the Baltimore Riots of 2015, just because they were both very similar in the way the media depicted them and their reasons for beginning.
First I wanted to give some background about why the riots occurred in Watts. Due to the need for workers during the wartime effort there was an influx of black migration in the area to fill these positions. Wanting to leave behind the oppressive and violent areas in the south, the black population sought out new opportunity and what they found was more of the same. Los Angeles had extremely restrictive housing options for its African American residents enforced by invisible boundaries and a vigilant police force ready and willing to keep the two separate. In the documentary “Crips and Bloods made in America” they had residents of the Watts area talk about the blatant discrimination they faced when dealing with Police Force, whether it be stop and frisks without any warning or heavy handed tactics for incarcerations.
On August 11, 1965 a black resident was pulled over for “reckless driving” within walking distance of his home. The police officer declared him unfit to drive and told him his car would be impounded. All of this occurred in a public area so more and more residents appeared to watch this incident; but this was a boiling point and they were tired of seeing the police take advantage of them. A fight broke out citizens vs the police and then it turned into a full on riot consuming multiple neighborhoods and causing millions in property damages. This riot could only be squelched by the intervention of the National Guard and more lethal means.
The fact that a singular police interaction could be the tipping point for an entire riot, is one of the reasons why the Baltimore riots came to mind. These riots occurred after the death of Freddie Gray due to the fact he occurred significant injuries after being incarcerated by the local police, the actual tipping point happened once the police department released false information about how he sustained his injuries and why he did not receive treatment in a timely manner. At first there was peaceful protest but it then became violent after the arrest of some of the protesters, the peak of the violence is where these two riots start to look very similar. When about one hundred students were denied access to their only means of traveling home safely by the police in fear they would join the rioters, they responded by attacking the police throwing bricks and glass bottles all while the police retaliated against the students through the exact same means. Police cars were destroyed, businesses torched, as well as many members of the police force sustaining injuries. These riots also were only put out with the presence of the National Guard once they arrived.
The media portrayed both of these events as senseless violence brought on by an overreaction to the police trying to do their job. When in fact it was the citizens standing up against corrupt police practices but because It involved a younger demographic and more aggressive means, the message was lost and they were labeled as thugs or looters. This was the case in both situations in which the peaceful protesters were seen as more intelligent and civilized in comparison to the rioters who were tired of being abused by a system who showed no interest in their struggles. The way the media talked about these events they made it seem as if the reason for these riots was a weakness in the system to prevent things like this from happening which is why the mayor of Baltimore was given so much criticism by both sides because she was openly against the riots taking place but others believed it was her soft politics that caused it in the first place. But in actuality both the protest and the riots combined were geared towards a goal, to address issues within the system and raise awareness to their suffering. The protest was more organized with traditional leadership and strategy but the riots were not as individualistic as one would be lead to believe. With the combined efforts of both tactics it lead to much more press coverage of the event as well as added pressure on the police force to right their wrongs.
Works Citied and Consulted
- J. Hennigan (May 3, 2015). “As Baltimore curfew ends, celebratory crowds peacefully gather”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
- Abu-Lughod, Janet L. Race, Space, and Riots in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
October 26, 2015
Reaction Paper 1
For this reaction paper I decided to focus on “N.I.M.B.Y” movements in particular the Windmill Programs within the United States and the counter resistance towards them. I chose this topic mainly because of how irrational the arguments against it have been. This project if proposed on a national level would pass without issue due to the benefits far outweighing and negative attributes but due to local N.I.M.B.Y movements these efforts have been in halted in a standstill due to no one wanting it in their area.
The acronym “N.I.M.B.Y” stands for “Not in my back yard” these movements stem from local organizations working together to push things out or prevent certain projects from being set up within their communities. President Obama’s proposed new energy policy called for new nuclear power plants as well as more offshore oil drilling near the coast. But the least controversial proposal was for an increase in Wind Power, which uses a renewable energy and it is safer to harness as well. There is a proposed plan going on in Cape Cod that suggest with the creation of an 130- turbine farm near the Nantucket Sound they could offset 75% of the gas and coal usage needed to power the area. This proposal was over a decade old due to the resistance it was met with at the local level.
N.I.M.B.Y organizations within Cape Cod rallied together to attack this project from every possible angle they could think of but with no success. They claimed it would be an environmental disaster ruining habitats of dozens of local flora and fauna, but that was quickly dismissed by the Massachusetts Audubon Society which debunked those accusations and showed they had no actual proof. The local organizations then turned to economic complaints stating how it would affect commercial fisheries and tourism, but even the U.S. Minerals Management Service sided with the Cape Wind project; Stating that the effects on the oceanography were so minutiae that it was once again a moot point brought up by groups trying to derail the project.
The underlying reason for this overwhelming opposition to this plan doesn’t actually come from concerns about the economy or the environment surrounding this construction site, it ultimately boils down to the fact that the locals believe that these large windmill farms will ruin the view. In no way will this project completely block off the natural sites of Cape Cod nor will it create an overcast permanently putting residence in the shade like some other major building projects. It is simply “The right project in the wrong place”, and by that they mean this is an area where many rich and powerful people reside for example members of the Kennedy family own property there and worry of its value decreasing because of it.
Because of the fact that it has so many powerful enemies the project has been delayed for nearly a decade and they are starting to lose traction. The Cape Cod project in particular is starting to look at moving it farther offshore in deeper waters to squelch the opposition they’ve been facing but this plan would cost even more simply to satisfy a select few (powerful) individuals desires to keep their view out their window.
- Keller, Jared. “Can Wind Power Survive NIMBY.” The Atlantic. 10 Apr. 2010. Web.