Things That Matter

Anthony Borges Protected 20 Classmates During The Parkland Shooting And Just Got Released From The Hospital

More than 50 days since Anthony Borges was shot five times by Nikolas Cruz at his school in Parkland, Florida, the teen is finally home. The 15-year-old Venezuelan-American gave his first interview on the “Today” show, but only spoke a few words.

When asked how he felt, Borges softy said: “I feel good.”

The interview took place at Borges’ new home. The “Today” show reports that his family had to move out of their apartment because it wasn’t accessible to Anthony’s wheelchair. The family is now living in a one-story home.

“Today” interviewer, Kerry Sanders asked Borges if he felt lucky to be alive. Borges just responded by nodding yes. He also said that he truly thought he was going to die.

His family showed the hundreds of letters that Borges has received from complete strangers, many of which he has yet to read. His mother got emotional reading one of the letters that described Borges as a “fighter, winner, champion.”

Carlitos Rodriguez, one of Borges’ friends, was also interviewed on the “Today” show saying: “It shouldn’t have happened on Feb. 14. It shouldn’t have happened ever, not in my school or any other school.”

Borges visited his school for the first time since he was wounded.

Principal at Marjory Stoneman Douglas, Ty Thompson tweeted: “Great to see Anthony back on campus: a true inspiration.”

His classmate, Emma González also tweeted: “We are so thankful and happy to know Anthony is safe and back at it at the eagle’s nest.”

Borges’ family is still going forward with their lawsuit against the county public schools.

“The failure of Broward County Public Schools, and of the Principal and School Resource Officer to adequately protect students, and in particular our client, from life-threatening harm were unreasonable, callous and negligent,” Alex Arreaza wrote in a notice of intent to sue.


READ: Anthony Borges Is Back In the ICU, A Day After His Family Said They Will Sue School and Police

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Some People Claim This Sandy Hook PSA Has Gone “Too Far” In Illustrating the Impact of School Shootings

Things That Matter

Some People Claim This Sandy Hook PSA Has Gone “Too Far” In Illustrating the Impact of School Shootings

We’ve come to the point in American history where deaths due to gun violence have become what many would call a crisis. According to data collected by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, in 2017, guns were responsible for more deaths than car accidents were. So it comes to no surprise when certain activists take it upon themselves to bring attention to what many label an epidemic. On Wednesday, the Sandy Hook Promise Foundation, a non-profit organization founded with the goal of “protecting children from gun violence with programs that work”, did just that. The NPO released a short video, titled “Back-To-School-Essentials” that made waves through the internet.

The video begins exactly the way so many back-to-school commercials start: discussing the coolest new gadgets to buy for your kids this Fall.

Sandy Hook Promise / Youtube.com

A smiling boy pulls a backpack out of a locker, bragging that his mom got him the “perfect bag for back to school”. A young girl shows off the colorful binders that are “just what she needs to help her stay organized” for the school year. But things take an odd turn with the third student. As the student describes his headphones as “just what [he] needs for studying”, we can see that not all is quite right in the background. As the boy listens to his music, oblivious, we see students running in the behind him, appearing to be panicked.

As the commercial wears on, it becomes even eerier when students are speaking carefree to the camera while scenes of carnage unfold around them. The commercial wears on with each scenario becoming eerier: a girl uses her sweater to bar a door shut, keeping an active shooter out of the gymnasium. A different student uses her new socks as a tourniquet to keep a bleeding student alive. The video ends on a chilling note: a young girl hides in a bathroom stall, tears running down her face. The camera closes up on her as we hear an active shooter enter the bathroom. “I love you, Mom,” she types into her phone.

The video ends with a simple title-card over a black screen: “School shooting is preventable when you know the signs.”

Sandy Hook Promise / Youtube.com

The PSA then directs the viewer to find out more about the organization at sandyhookpromise.org. According to Sandy Hook Promise’s About page, the “above-the-politics” organization is made up of “several family members whose loved ones were killed at Sandy Hook Elementary School on December 14, 2012”. Their mission is to “honor all victims of gun violence by turning our tragedy into a moment of transformation”. Their main action-items are to target mental health programs to individuals who are “at-risk” at engaging in gun violence and by advocating for policy changes in order to prevent school shootings. 

As of now, the video has racked up over 1 million views on YouTube in under 24 hours.

The virality of the PSA is likely due to its execution: we’re all used to seeing vacuous back-to-school commercials whose sole intentions are to sell us something. “Back-To-School Essentials” lulls us into a sense of comfort with its upbeat music before jerking us into the current violent reality of school-aged students’ lives. According to the Gun Violence Archive, which tracks every mass shooting in the country, the US has had 283 mass shootings since September 1st of 2019. 

The video isn’t without controversy–some Twitter users are disturbed by how close to home the video’s scenarios are.

In fact, many viewers are finding the PSA hard to watch. On Twitter, users are complaining of tearing up after watching the video. Some even claim to “feeling sick” by the video’s contents. 

In response, some Twitter users are glad of the reality-check the PSA is providing:

It’s evident that making their audience uncomfortable from watching the video was one of the organization’s goals. That way, it makes it harder to ignore the reality of school shootings and their impact on children’s lives.

This woman explained how the video hit a little too close to home:

It seems we’ve come to the point in our culture where we feel we need to buy phones for our children in the event that they experience a school shooting. 

This Twitter user applauded the Sandy Hook Promise Organization’s bravery in committing to their message:

Sometimes the only way to get your point across is to explain, in the starkest terms possible, how dire the situation is. This video managed to convey that in a powerful way.

This Latina was effected by the PSA on a visceral level:

Reactions like this prove that public service announcements, when done right, can achieve exactly what they set out to achieve.

Simply from the Twitter reaction, it’s clear that this video has touched a lot of people.

To learn more about Sandy Hook Promise and its mission to prevent gun violence, visit www.sandyhookpromise.org.

Bricks Of Cocaine Have Been Washing Up On Florida Beaches And Some Are Valued At More Than $25,000

Things That Matter

Bricks Of Cocaine Have Been Washing Up On Florida Beaches And Some Are Valued At More Than $25,000

Melbourne Police Department / Facebook

Florida is gonna Florida. Florida, as usual, is doing the most. Hurricane Dorian has unearthed more than a dozen bricks of cocaine by causing them to wash up on beaches. Hurricane Dorian isn’t a joke nor should it be trivialized. It’s the cause of damage and displacement for thousands of people. 

Beginning as a Category 5 hurricane and eventually downgrading to a Category 2, Dorian has wreaked havoc in the Bahamas, Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida as it continues its move northeast. At least 20 have been killed in the Bahamas, which has been hit particularly hard. The prime minister, Hubert Minnis said Dorian “has left generational devastation across Abaco and Grand Bahama” after it destroyed harbors, shops, offices, hospitals, and airport landing strips. 

So let’s be clear, we’re not undermining the very real disaster whose devastation won’t even be quantifiable for years to come — we’re making fun of Florida. Florida, a state whose crimes are so bizarre and confusing it has a dedicated Twitter account. A state whose men are so bizarre and confusing there is a dedicated “Florida Man” meme. There is a Bored Panda listicle entitled “60 Times Florida Man Did Something So Crazy We Had To Read The Headings Twice.” 

Florida isn’t a regular place, you see, it is a place where the oceans are filled with cocaine. 

15 bricks of cocaine washed ashore. 

A duffel bag containing 15 bricks of cocaine weighing a kilo each turned up on the shore of Cocoa Beach in Florida.

Just 20 miles south, another brick of cocaine was discovered at Paradise Beach and Park in Melbourne, Florida. 

“It happened before the storm, it was on Friday, Aug. 30, it was just a beachgoer that saw a red travel duffel bag that looked suspicious,” Sergeant Manny Hernandez of Cocoa Beach Police Department told Fox Business. 

“So they contacted the Cocoa Beach Police Department and when officers responded, they took the bag and brought it back to station. We then contacted the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP).”

This particular brick also weighed a kilo and had the letters “D-I-A-M-A-N-T” written on the package. The NY Post estimatesthe 15 bricks to be worth at least $300,000. However Fox Business reports that the two seizures may total around $810,000 and estimate that each brick is between $20,000 and $30,000.

This happens in Florida all the time, of course.

Bricks of cocaine and marijuana, known as square groupers, have been known to surface in Florida waters. Brevard’s coast has had unintended spills from cargo ships and vessels where coffee cans and other items have been dumped into the ocean. According to Florida Today, it is the rough surf and proximity of the Gulf Stream that causes either “trash or treasure” to wash up frequently. 

“There is a possibility that more will come onshore,” Hernandez said. “Especially now with these conditions. It could be coming from anywhere. We’re telling people to be cautious and not to grab or handle it because if there is an opening, it can go into your pores and you can overdose.”

Why is there so much cocaine in Florida, though?

In 2017,the Sun-Sentinel reported cocaine is making a “roaring” comeback in Florida.  Reportedly, Colombian cocaine production hit a record high with traffickers proliferating the drug in South Florida. Around 90% of the cocaine in the United States can be traced back to Colombia, which has tripled its production in recent years. 

Florida’s Customs and Borders confiscated 4,200 pounds of cocaine in 2016, compared to 1,730 pounds in 2015. Because there is a lag between drug production and distribuion it can take years to see the effects. Flash forward to 2019 where bricks of cocaine are free-flowing on the shores of Cocoa Beach. 

“We’ve never seen cocaine production at these numbers, which tells you there is more cocaine being produced now than at the height of the Medellin and Cali cartels,” Justin Miller, intelligence chief for the DEA’s Miami field division, told the Sun-Sentinel. “That’s significant.”

The increase in production is largely due to the Colombian government ceasing to aerial spray herbicides over coca fields used to make cocaine. The previous method was effective in thwarting cocaine production, but it harmed legitimate crops. Thus, the program ended. 

Don’t do cocaine, kids.

Don’t do cocaine, kids. That’s fairly good advice, I think! It’s nice to know that in the most trying times, Florida will always be Florida. Much like the spinning top was Leonardo Dicaprio’s constant in Inception. Florida is mine because I know it will never change.