Research Project 2

Reed A. Kingsmen

Community Power

Second Project


            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.


Laura Morris: Research Project 2 (Section 2)- Victim Advocacy Training at RCASA

Laura Morris

Community Power Research Project 2


Throughout the Fall 2015 semester I have been interning at the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA). At the internship, I complete various tasks such as reading grant applications, helping collect data to create surveys, and training to be a crisis responder and victim advocate for those survivors of sexual assault. This training consists of online modules, on-site hospital training, and lectures from RCASA staff on topics relevant to advocacy. Thus far, I have completed the majority of this training including the online portion, two lectures, and the on-site hospital visit. As I was reflecting on the training I have completed in an online journal for my internship class, I realized the great service I was doing for the greater Fredericksburg community by attending these trainings. Not only am I furthering my own education to help reduce the social stigma around sexual assault, but I am learning how to empower others and help them deal with the wrongful things that have been done to them.

RCASA provides the sole source of hospital accompaniment to the Mary Washington and Spotsylvania Regional Hospitals to assist victims of sexual assault not related to domestic violence. The most recent part of my training involved visiting the hospital and learning about the evidence collection and examination process so that I can be prepared to assist in hospital accompaniment as a crisis responder or advocate. During this training I learned about victim rights, forensic exams, evidence collection, court processes and much more. A forensic nurse from the hospital gave a tour of the emergency room and showed all of the equipment in the sexual assault examination rooms used to collect evidence or give an examination. Absorbing all of this information was overwhelming to say the least, but the most shocking part of this training was seeing reports of cases of sexual assault that have come through the hospital in the last year. Seeing the exceedingly high numbers, well over 500, pushed me to consider how overwhelming it must be for those 500-plus men and women to take in this information. These individuals must attempt to make sense of legalities while also trying to make sense of the horrible event they have just experienced.

Sexual assaults are typically executed by someone close to or known by the victim in an attempt to execute any and all sense of power over them. During a sexual assault a victim’s body often goes into a state of shock where survival is the only goal, the only option. Because of this natural response the victim has no power to try and overcome their attacker, nor do they have power to try and stop the assault by crying out for help for they are often physically unable to speak or move. In fact, such forceful execution of power over another individual strips any and all power away from the victim. It is not until after the assault, when the victim is often emotionally and/or physically damaged, that a survivor can attempt to regain some of that power by visiting a hospital, asking others for help, seeking therapy, pressing charges, or simply reminding themselves that the attack was not their fault. The recovery period is where hospital accompaniment or advocacy comes in to play. The job of the advocate is to help ground the survivor and to remind them that they are in control and have the power to press charges, to take care of themselves, and to recover. Without victim advocacy, survivors would often be left to seek help on their own and because of the social stigma towards sexual assault survivors, many would most likely choose not to speak out and admit their hurt.

Not only do advocates help with personal feelings of power, but they also help with power on a community or legal level. Victim-blaming has become a huge issue in today’s society. This term refers to blaming a victim for something that has happened to them and making them feel as if they did not do enough to prevent the situation. Statements like this do nothing more than convince the affected parties that they are to blame. This is especially relevant to sexual assault survivors who are often told they should have dressed more conservatively, known they were in a dangerous situation, or fought back against the perpetrator. Statements such as these further strip the power from survivors by convincing them that they are at fault and would be naive to report, press charges, or speak out about wrongdoings against them. During hospital accompaniment, advocates remind survivors of their rights and talk them through the typical process of reporting or pressing charges. They are also there to ensure that survivors are treated with respect by all persons involved such as police and hospital nurses and that no victim-blaming takes place. Without advocates there are many individuals who would not know how to move further, what their options are, or how to ignore the hurtful judgements of society.

Without individuals who are willing to stand up against social norms, such as victim blaming of sexual assault survivors, there will never be power or justice for those who have been wronged. Each report filed has the potential to lead to another perpetrator of sexual assault being punished for wrongfully taking advantage of another human being and stripping them of their power. With more reports and less perpetrators comes a safer community for all. However, if advocates are not trained and sent out to better the community the likelihood of survivors being notified of their rights and responsibilities becomes exceedingly less. My taking part in this training helps to ensure that there is at least one more person working to do everything in her power to ensure that survivors of sexual assault have their personal power restored and have the potential to remove perpetrators from the area and empower the entire community as a whole.

Reaction Paper 3

Reed A. Kingsmen

Community Power

Dr. Martin

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.

Works Consulted


Laura Morris (Reaction 3, section 2): Media Influence on Public Judgements

Laura Morris

Community Power

Reaction Paper 3


Any person who has access to the media, be it via Facebook, Twitter, television, or the radio, has heard about the recent uprisings and riots throughout the United States sparked by instances of police brutality. We’ve all heard the names of those killed, seen their faces, and listened to their stories as they have been blasted across social media for the world to see and interpret however they wish. As a general rule of thumb, we are cautioned to take care in believing everything we see on social media or the news. There is often a great deal of bias associated with stories which are presented to us and it takes a sharp and knowing audience to differentiate between what should be taken with a grain of salt and what should be taken at face value. For the most part, the general public does an adequate job of accessing facts and drawing inferences; however, in the case of police brutality the word of the media is often taken as gold. It has been my understanding that the media often portrays one perspective, that of the victim, when airing stories involving instances of violence by police officers. Any perspectives that are shared from the point of view of police are often devalued and portrayed as unsustainable. However, it is my argument that the general public should take in to account both sides of the story and refrain from lumping together all members of the nation-wide police forces as one unit with the same beliefs and values.

The first thing I will say is that I am by no means excusing the killing of innocent people, nor am I trying to argue that police officers should not be subject to general laws and consequences. In fact, the very individuals who are trained to enforce rules and regulations should probably be held accountable to even higher standards than the general public. However, I am arguing that solely listening to media portrayals of violence by police is not the best way to ensure you have heard all sides of the story.

We have heard numerous stories of young, black youth being killed by white law enforcement. From Freddie Gray to Michael Brown we hear the same story about how unarmed, black youth are mauled by police officers because of their race. While I do not discount that these young men and women were killed for little to no reason, I do wonder where I can find media coverage of white youth being killed by law enforcement for very similar and unnecessary reasons. My fear is that because the media does not broadcast stories of police brutality towards white individuals with the same emphasis as those involving black youth that the general public may assume that it does not take place. This is where knowing the facts and taking the media with a grain of salt become great skills. Where was the media coverage when 19-year-old Zachary Hammond was killed by police during a drug investigation this past July? Where was the media when Dillon Taylor, a 20-year-old white male, was shot and killed by a black police officer? Because our society has become so reliant on the media to display the facts, the lack of media coverage following these events served to suppress public knowledge. Many shootings involving white persons are either only touched on briefly or omitted completely by most national news sources. Without all of the facts and views from multiple sides of a story to make inferences, the general public must be self-sufficient and do their own research; however, as a member of today’s society, I have a hunch that it would be overoptimistic to assume that would actually happen.

I am fully aware that news stations and social media outlets are businesses and need to show stories which ‘sell’ and make for ‘good television’, and for this I do not fault them. I do, however, fault them for not giving the public the opportunity to make their own judgments. For example, when displaying instances of police brutality it is rare that the public get to hear sides of the story from those who are in support of the local police force or the opinions of those who are not utterly outraged by the violence. In addition, it is a rare occurrence that viewers get to hear from police officers who are upset by the actions of their fellow service members and wish to assure the public that not all members of a police force are the same. Should the public be exposed to the views of more law enforcement personnel it may be easier for them to draw their own conclusions about police officers as not only a general unit, but also as individual people. The reality of the matter is that police officers must enter the workforce each and every day with a clear mind in order to effectively serve, protect, and do their jobs; however, I would imagine this would be almost impossible to do should you have to start every day thinking that the majority of the general public has a genuine hatred and disrespect for police officers. I understand that it can be difficult to continue to trust law enforcement when you are also afraid that you may be hurt or killed by them. However, if the media does not give the public the opportunity to make that decision for themselves, given information from both law enforcement and victims, then we will continue to be trapped in a cycle of never ending mistrust and hatred from which we cannot escape.

“Nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood. Now is the time to understand more, so that we may fear less.”  ― Marie Curie

My ultimate hope is that we may all live in a society where we do not fear those who protect us. I also hope that those who protect us do not have to do so in fear of those they protect. If we all take the time to understand and make judgments based on facts we can move closer to a world of understanding and respect rather than fear. I encourage you take the media with a grain of salt. Listen carefully. And always remember that there are three sides to every story, yours, mine, and the truth.


Reaction Paper 2

Reed Kingsmen

Community Power

Dr. Martin

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

  2. J. Hennigan (May 3, 2015). “As Baltimore curfew ends, celebratory crowds peacefully gather”. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved May 7, 2015.
  3. Abu-Lughod, Janet L. Race, Space, and Riots in Chicago, New York, and Los Angeles. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.


Reed Kingsmen

Community Power

Professor Martin

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.


Work Cited

  1. Keller, Jared. “Can Wind Power Survive NIMBY.” The Atlantic. 10 Apr. 2010. Web.