Things That Matter

The 15-Year-Old Girl Jailed In Michigan For Not Doing Her Homework Is Set To Be Released

Update July 31, 2020: Grace, the teenager jailed in Michigan for not doing her online homework is being released. The arrest of the 15-year-old stunned the nation after she was sent to jail during a pandemic, risking her life and health.

News broke on Twitter that Grace, the Michigan teenager who was jailed for not doing her homework, has been released.

According to a tweet bu journalist Jodi Cohen, who broke the story when Grace went to jail, a judge ordered the immediate release of the girl. The order came from the Michigan Court of Appeals after Judge Mary Ellen Brennan and Prosecutor Jessica Cooper refused to release the girl. It is an election year and activists are calling on voters to remember their actions and vote accordingly.

In Michigan, judges were told to limit the number of people in prisons in jails to prevent Covid-19 infections from exploding in prison settings. This is what angered classmates and community members when the teenager was arrested and refused release under the protocols.

Original: As the Coronavirus pandemic set in across the country, schools from Maine to Hawaii began cancelling in-person classes. Although this was seen as a critical step in combatting the spread of the virus, it also caused student participation to plummet.

Some students — in particular, those from low-income families — lacked adequate access to computers and Wi-Fi to complete their online coursework. Children with disabilities, who often require more in-person support, also struggled to adjust to the abrupt transition to remote learning. But participation issues were widespread: In early April, according to the New York Times, teachers in districts across the country were reporting that fewer than half of their students were routinely participating in virtual learning.

Yet despite how common school-participation issues have been amid the pandemic, not all cases have been treated equally.

The Michigan student was incarcerated for not completing her online coursework when her school switched to remote learning.

According to a report from ProPublica, Grace, who is 15 and has ADHD, said she felt unmotivated and overwhelmed when online learning began after schools closed due to coronavirus. Without much live instruction or structure, she was easily distracted and had difficulty keeping herself on track, something that many students can relate to these days.

Since May, the teen has been held in custody at the Children’s Village juvenile detention center outside Detroit, after a Michigan judge said she violated her probation order by not doing her schoolwork.

In a court hearing in May, a judge ruled that she found Grace “guilty on failure to submit to any schoolwork and getting up for school” and called Grace a “threat to (the) community,” citing previous charges the teen incurred. “She hasn’t fulfilled the expectation with regard to school performance,” Brennan said as she sentenced Grace. “I told her she was on thin ice and I told her that I was going to hold her to the letter, to the order, of the probation.”

Grace’s mother, identified only as Carissa, later said she told the case worker about Grace’s issues with virtual learning but that Grace had been working hard to stay on top of her work under less than ideal circumstances. When remote learning began, she no longer had the support system, her mother said.

Grace had been on probation for a theft and assault but hadn’t violated any terms of her probation.

Credit: juanonimo/ Getty Images

Grace was previously placed on probation following a fight with her mother and petty theft on school property. However, the judge later decided to incarcerate the teen, not for any additional behavioral issues, but because of an alleged failure to do her school work.

Grace’s case worker, Rachel Giroux, filed a violation of probation against her for not doing her schoolwork. Giroux told the prosecutor she planned to ask the judge to detain Grace because she “clearly doesn’t want to abide by the rules in the community,” according to the case notes.

Giroux filed the violation of probation before confirming with Grace’s teacher whether or not she was meeting her academic requirements. Grace’s teacher, Katherine Tarpeh, responded in an email to Giroux that the teenager was “not out of alignment with most of my other students.”

At a recent court hearing, the judge failed to let Grace out of detention despite having made immense progress.

This week at an additional hearing, the Judge overseeing Grace’s case denied her emergency request for early release.

“She is a threat of harm under our current circumstances without the mental health treatment she needs, and interventions so she can get a handle on herself,” said Judge Mary Ellen Brennan. According to Michigan Radio, she told Grace, “There is not a question in my mind, if I were to grant the request to release you home today, I would be making a mistake, and I would be doing you a disservice.”

Since Grace’s story made national headlines, nearly 93,000 have signed a Change.org petition “Stop the School to Prison Pipeline – Free Grace from Incarceration.” Unfortunately Brennan explicitly stated in court on Monday, “I will not be swayed by partisan interests, public clamor, or fear of public criticism. And I am going to uphold my oath.”

It’s now been over a month since Grace’s mother has been able to see her. The 15-year-old is not scheduled to be released any time soon, despite Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s call for juvenile detention to be suspended in response to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Grace’s next court date isn’t until September, meaning she’ll likely spend another two months away from her family.

“It just doesn’t make any sense,” Grace’s mother tells ProPublica. “Every day I go to bed thinking, and wake up thinking, ‘How is this a better situation for her?’”

Reactions across the Internet have been quick to condemn the failures once again of a justice system that treats Black Americans differently.

As ProPublica points out, Grace’s case is just one example of the many ways Black students are disproportionately targeted and incarcerated by the juvenile “justice” system.

“It is clear that kids of color are disproportionately involved and impacted by the system across the board,” Jason Smith, who works for the nonprofit Michigan Center for Youth Justice, told the outlet. “They are more likely to be arrested, less likely to be offered any kind of diversion, more likely to be removed out of the home and placed in some sort of confinement situation.”

People like Kim Kardashian are now calling attention to Grace’s incarceration and calling for reform. 

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Latino Man Whose Wife Died In Atlanta Spa Was Handcuffed, ‘Treated Like A Suspect’

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Latino Man Whose Wife Died In Atlanta Spa Was Handcuffed, ‘Treated Like A Suspect’

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

As we continue to learn more about the attack on Atlanta’s Asian-American community that left eight dead, we also are learning about Mario González – a survivor of the attack who was treated like a suspect by the Cherokee Sheriff Department.

Despite having lost his wife in the gunfire, police refused to share that news with González as he was handcuffed for hours amid the chaotic scene that was unfolding in the Atlanta suburbs.

A survivor of the Atlanta spa attacks says he was treated like a suspect instead of a victim.

The Latino man and husband who survived the Atlanta spa shootings that killed his wife says cops treated him like a suspect instead of a grieving victim — keeping him handcuffed for hours without telling him his spouse was dead.

“They had me at the police station for all that time until they investigated who was responsible or what had happened,” Mario González said during an interview with the Spanish-language news site Mundo Hispanico. “In the end, they told me my wife had died.

“They knew I was her husband,” Gonzalez said. “Then they told me she was dead when I wanted to know before. I don’t know, maybe because I’m Mexican,” he said. “Because the truth is that they treated me very badly.”

Law enforcement hasn’t responded to the allegations but are already facing severe backlash.

Representatives for the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to messages seeking comment on Sunday, but the accusations leveled by Mr. González come after the agency had already faced scrutiny after a spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office described the gunman as having “a really bad day.”

The spokesman, Capt. Jay Baker, was no longer the office’s public representative on the case, and the sheriff, Frank Reynolds, apologized and defended Captain Baker as not intending to disrespect the victims or their families. “We regret any heartache Captain Baker’s words may have caused,” Sheriff Reynolds said.

González and his wife had been on a date night when the massacre took place.

The couple had arrived to Young’s Asian Massage for a fun date night, where they’d both enjoy a relaxing massage. They arrived shortly before the shooting started, Mr. González said in the video interview, and they were ushered into separate rooms for their massages.

Mr. González had met Ms. Yaun at a Waffle House restaurant, where he was a customer and she was a server. Ms. Yaun had been a single mother, raising a 13-year-old son. The couple married last year and had a daughter, who is now 8 months old. “What I need most right now is support,” Mr. González said in the interview.

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Racists Threatened To Call ICE On This Mexican Restaurant After They Kept Their Mask Rule

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Racists Threatened To Call ICE On This Mexican Restaurant After They Kept Their Mask Rule

Felix Aguilar / Getty Images

Several states across the country (mostly governed by Republican leaders) have decided to repeal their mask mandates despite their own health officials urging against such moves.

Yes, the vaccine roll out has improved under the Biden administration – with nearly 2 million people getting vaccinated each day – but that is still not enough for the United States to reach herd immunity over night.

Now, thanks to these irresponsible moves by Republican governors, Americans are left to fend for themselves against anti-makers. In fact, a Mexican restaurant in Texas that decided to keep its mask mandate for diners is now facing racist attacks with people threatening to call ICE on its workers.

Texas Mexican restaurant is facing a backlash for sticking to its mask rules.

Houston’s Picos Restaurant, a small family-owned Mexican restaurant, is facing racist threatening comments after deciding to prioritize public health amid an ongoing pandemic. Several people sent hateful messages through social media and called the restaurant, threatening to report staffers to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

“It was just horrific,” co-owner Monica Richards told the Washington Post. “People don’t understand unless you’re in our business what it felt like, how hard it was to go through everything we went through during covid. For people to be negative toward us for trying to remain safe, so that this doesn’t continue to happen, just makes zero sense to us.”

Picos decided to maintain their mask mandate as the governor lifted the state-wide one.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) rescind the statewide mask mandate despite the fact that a vast majority of his state’s residents remain vulnerable to COVID-19. The governor has ignored the advice of his own public health officials who say the state should wait on lifting these mandates until their is a greater incidence of vaccination in communities.

With Abbotts order, Texas will become the largest state in the nation to no longer require masks, which has not come easily for many businesses that are navigating enforcement mask rules to protect employees and customers while facing backlash.

Experts agree that masks are among the most effective way to curb the spread of COVID-19, but they’ve also become a partisan symbol. Masks have become so symbolic that one conservative group is set to hold a mask burning party the day the order is lifted, according to the Washington Post.

Picos hasn’t been the only restaurant facing such a backlash.

In fact, another Mexican restaurant in Houston, Cantina Bar, has been the victim of similar threatening messages, while several staff have been intimidated by screaming customers who refuse to wear masks even while it was required by a state order. Another Houston Mexican restaurant, Cantina Barba, received similar intimidating messages, and staff have been bullied by some screaming customers who refused to wear masks while it was required statewide, co-owner Steven O’Sullivan said.

“This has been ongoing through covid,” co-owner Steven O’Sullivan told the Post. “We’ve had threats of calling ICE. I had one guy just stand there and berate one of my bartenders and tell her ‘you’re an absolute idiot, you don’t know what you’re doing. If you think these masks are going to save your life, you’re stupid’ blah, blah, blah. Nobody wants to deal with that stuff.”

Another employee at a separate restaurant had to get stitches after he was hit in the head with a glass by a maskless customer he approached, Houston Police said. Hopefully, the governor will still encourage his constituents to do what’s right and continue to wear masks when asked to do.

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