Friday News Bites: #Ferguson Updates, #ALSIceBucketChallenge + More

Goodness, it’s been quite the week for social justice, to understate it. Just when we thought the protesters vs. police  in Ferguson, Missouri, had finally calmed somewhat, law enforcement overreacted again. This and more, after the jump:

Shortly after I wrote my Friday News Bites column last week detailing the protests in Ferguson, Highway Patrol stepped in to monitor the crowd, and the SWAT teams were gone for a time.

I admit that things have happened so quickly, and I cannot provide a complete timeline of everything has happened in the past week. However, The Washington Post has a breakdown of the 155 people arrested since the protests began, many of which were because of “refusal to disperse.”

This video feels appropriate to share right now:

The Nation also has a report on nine protesters arrested, including 90-year-old Holocaust survivor Hedy Epstein.

Reddit has a rather informative live feed for all new information coming in via traditional news sources and Twitter.

Here are some other Ferguson-related links I’ve noticed this week:

On Tuesday near Ferguson, St. Louis police shot and killed a 23-year-old black man who had a knife and was “acting erratically.” Though the officers involved have been suspended pending an investigation, this did little to diffuse the tension coming just 11 days after Michael Brown’s death.

According the preliminary autopsy, Michael Brown was shot six times, including twice in the head. Attorney General Eric Holder says that the U.S. Justice Department will also conduct their own autopsy, due to “the extraordinary circumstances involved in this case and at the request of the Brown family.”

Amnesty International also joined the protesters, and they have several reports of people’s First Amendment rights being violated by police.

By the way:

Iraq war veteran Rafael Noboa y Rivera reports that the police in Ferguson are outfitted with better equipment than he had in combat:

It’s that kind of training and discipline that’s been markedly absent from everything we saw this week in Ferguson. We saw police officers pointing weapons at civilians, firing their “less than lethal” ammunition in wild abandon, and posing ostentatiously on armored vehicles. I contrast those images with the photos I took of myself in Iraq; helmet off, smiling towards the camera, my weapon within easy reach but never in the frame. I count on one hand the number of times I raised my weapon in order to use it, and my ears still ring with the tongue-lashing my first sergeant delivered to a lieutenant whose weapon went off accidentally.

That’s how seriously we take this stuff in the military. It certainly doesn’t look like the police in Ferguson took it that seriously. And that matters, because it made a bad situation utterly disastrous.

Janee Woods at The Root has a good post on how white people can be an ally to black people, in general and while talking about Ferguson. Also at The Root: “How to Deal With Friends’ Racist Reactions to Ferguson.”

And now…

That Omnipresent ALS Ice Bucket Challenge:

While I feel like people’s hearts are generally in the right place, I’m of mixed feelings when it comes to the Ice Bucket Challenge, since I’ve seen what seems like a gerbillion videos that don’t even have information about the disease or the ways one can donate attached. The overly optimistic hippie side of me wishes that people could be moved to donate without a stunt, but I know that’s naïve of me.

Anyway, on Tuesday, the ALS Association received $8.6 million in donations in just the one day, with celebrities making videos all across the interwubbery.

Over the course of several days, people participating in the challenge raised more than $13 million, but it’s worth making the broader point that while this is all well and good, medical research funding has been cut by billions. If you haven’t already, REGISTER TO VOTE.

Because you very well could have a Congressman like my own Steve Daines (R-MT) who participated in the Ice Bucket Challenge, but was one of the assholes representatives who slashed funding for the National Institutes of Health.

In Other News:

Lost in the shuffle of all this domestic business is the ongoing conflict in Iraq. Islamic militants killed American photojournalist James Foley, who disappeared while reporting from Syria in 2012, and briefly, a video showing his beheading circulated online. The group claims that they will keep killing war correspondents until the airstrikes stop in Iraq, but the U.S. plans to continue their fight against them.

James Foley was no stranger to war-torn and otherwise dangerous reporting. Here’s his 2011 account of his time in Libya, shared by The Boston Globe again after reports of his death.

Congress has been banned from editing Wikipedia after someone with a congressional IP address started editing Laverne Cox’s page (among other pages), changing the word “transgender” to “a man pretending to be a woman.” Does anyone actually do any work in our Congress?

Several actors, directors and producers have sent an open letter to the BBC calling for greater diversity and more quality programming featuring people of color, or as the letter phrases it, Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people.

Meanwhile, Top Gear‘s Jeremy Clarkson is still busy being racist and doesn’t see the problem with it. A few years ago, when Clarkson made disparaging comments about Mexicans, I checked out from watching the show entirely.

Texas Governor Rick Perry is being indicted for misusing his political office, and the grand jurors involved in the case want to make clear that their decision was not made on political grounds.

In Better News:

Well, okay, maybe not better if they chomp through, but here’s an interesting article about the materials Google uses to keep sharks from eating their undersea cables.

In the South Bronx, teacher Stephen Ritz demonstrates how having an in-classroom garden can boost attendance and give under-served students applicable skills beyond the school.

Actress and writer Mara Wilson wrote a lovely tribute to Robin Williams, with whom she worked on Mrs. Doubtfire.

Finally, in case you haven’t heard elsewhere, FXX is airing every Simpsons episode in order from now until Labor Day. I think my favorite episode is “Lisa Becomes a Vegetarian.”

Until next time, friends!

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Sara Habein

Sara Habein is the author of Infinite Disposable, a collection of microfiction, and her work has appeared on The Rumpus, Pajiba and Word Riot, among others. Her book reviews and other commentary appear at Glorified Love Letters, and she is the co-manager of Electric City Creative.

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