Things That Matter

Lalo Alcaraz Has Painted Emma Gonzalez, The Face Of The Gun Control Debate, And Here’s How People Are Reacting

One of the most impactful moments since the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, is that of Emma Gonzalez calling BS on politicians and gun laws. The 18-year-old senior at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School is leading the fight against school violence. The teenager has become the face of a new movement of young people demanding change on gun laws.

Emma Gonzalez became a viral sensation after her impassioned speech at a Feb. 17 rally following the Florida school shooting.

People across the world heard her words that were directed at the National Rifle Association (NRA) and President Donald Trump. One of those people captivated by Emma’s passion and determination to create a safe environment for children was illustrator Lalo Alcaraz.

Lalo Alcaraz was so moved by Gonzalez and her speech that he created an illustration of her.

CREDIT: Lalo Alcaraz

“I was awed by her speech, and by all of the courage and responsibility these young people have taken on,” Alcaraz said. “I had been thinking about it for a day or so after I watched her, and then someone on Facebook nudged me and said ‘WE NEED AN EMMA CARTOON FROM YOU.'”

As soon as the image went live, people have been sharing Alcaraz’ illustration of Gonzalez everywhere.

CREDIT: Twitter/@katwardphoto

Alcaraz admits that it took more than one attempt to capture the emotion he saw in Gonzalez that day.

“I drew a realistic version of her, and I tossed it,” Alcaraz said. “I then did a quick caricature that I hoped would capture her anger and determination, her loss of innocence — that all these kids had just gone through as well and I think it worked.”

People are sharing photos of themselves with Gonzalez’ drawing all over social media.

Alcaraz has posted his own photos of fans using his art in protests recently.

“The response has been overwhelming to say the least,” Alcaraz tells mitú. “People need a rallying image, I hope this one helps the movement.”

Even Gonzalez herself tweeted the image and loves it.

Alcaraz said he is very relieved and honored to know Gonzalez approved of his illustration.

As of now, the image of Gonzalez can be printed for free but Alcaraz adds that he is currently redesigning the image for a t-shirt printing after fans demanded them. He said the new image will have the Never Again hashtag, and will be available for purchase on his online Art Shop.

He also added that all proceeds from sales of this t-shirt will go towards the Never Again movement or a gun control activist group.

Alcaraz hopes the t-shirts will be ready to go by the time Gonzalez and countless more take to the streets for the March of Our Lives demonstration taking place on March 24 in Washington D.C. and across the nation.

READ: This Teenager Was Shot 5 Times During The Florida School Shooting While Protecting A Room Full Of People

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Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

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Florida Republicans Just Introduced Four Anti-LGBTQ Bills On The Last Day Possible And People Are Asking Why Now?

Ben Wassenhatch / Flickr

Seven Republican lawmakers in Florida filed four anti-LGBTQ bills hours before the deadline for the upcoming legislative session this week. The bills undo many of the protections that exist for LGBTQ Florida residents. The four bills would repeal county and municipal ordinances for LGBTQ workers, legalize gay conversion therapy, and ban transgender healthcare for children, according to NBC News. 

The homophobic and transphobic legislation was introduced by representatives Anthony Sabatini, Bob Rommel, Michael Grant, and Byron Donalds, along with Senators Joe Gruters and Keith Perry. Florida Rep. Shevrin Jones, who is a member of the LGBTQ community, and other advocates are now fighting against the bills’ passing. 

Advocates respond to the bill calling it “discrimination and hate.”

“Clearly they’ve decided that discrimination and hate are central to their election-year platform despite our state’s incredible diversity,” Jones said in a statement. “Just as I’ve done since I was elected in 2012, I will continue to fight any legislation that marginalizes or threatens any Floridian’s shot at a secure, safe, and bright quality of life.”

Jones also accused Florida Republicans of, “wasting tax dollars attacking Florida’s most vulnerable communities rather than prioritizing the issues that impact everyday people’s lives.” 

Equality Florida released a statement highlighting many of the consequences such a bill would have. 

“This is the most overtly anti-LGBTQ agenda from the Florida Legislature in recent memory,” Jon Harris Maurer, the group’s public policy director, said. “It runs the gamut from openly hostile legislation that would arrest and imprison doctors for providing medically necessary care, to legislation that would carelessly erase critical local LGBTQ protections.”

Senator Gruters defends the bill, claiming it “includes protections.”

“The bill certainly does not authorize an employer to discriminate against employees who are members of protected classes, whether protected by federal or state law or local ordinance,” Gruters told NBC News via email.  “While I do not believe the bill has any impact on local anti-discrimination ordinances, in an abundance of caution, I included language in the bill’s preamble to make clear that the preemption would not affect local anti-discrimination laws, and any court would interpret the preemption consistent with that preamble.” 

While Gruters claims it would include protections, Joe Saunders, senior political director at Equality Florida, claims that these so-called protections are merely a part of the bill’s preamble and would carry no weight should the bills become law. 

“We appreciate that Sen. Gruters put that in,” Saunders said. “It’s not policy; it’s not considered part of the bill.”

Democratic senator Lori Berman suggested the bill was nothing more than a political stunt to garner votes from homophobic and transphobic constituents. 

“I’m disappointed to see some of my colleagues proposing this regressive and discriminatory anti-LGBT agenda,” Berman wrote on Twitter. “What benefit to the public does this legislation actually serve, apart from tossing red meat to a political base in an election season?” 

Trans children are particularly vulnerable to the policies. 

“Transgender youth are some of the most at risk in our community,” Gina Duncan, Equality Florida’s director of transgender equality, told NBC News. “It is outrageous that conservative legislators would threaten their health and safety. Medical professionals, not politicians, should decide what medical care is in the best interest of a patient. Forcing a doctor to deny best practice medical care and deny support to transgender youth can be life-threatening.”

Making it illegal for doctors to provide necessary care to trans children certainly goes against the Hippocratic oath, but if you think something so dystopian can’t happen just look at how Republicans have slowly chipped away at abortion rights – another form of necessary care that can be life-saving. 

Just yesterday South Dakora Republican lawmakers introduced a bill that would also ban doctors from performing gender-affirming surgeries or treatments on children. Similar bills have been filed in Texas, Georgia, and Kentucky. 

According to the Associated Press, “The Endocrine Society, which is the leading professional organization for doctors who specialize in hormones, does not recommend gender-transition medical treatment before puberty for children who do not identify with their biological gender. For youths experiencing puberty and older adolescents, the Endocrine Society recommends that a team composed of expert medical professionals and mental health professionals manages treatment.”

Opponents of these anti-trans bills believe the laws interfere with the doctor-patient relationship and contradict the widely accepted practices of the medical community. 

“Sadly, the medical care of transgender youth has been sensationalized and politicized,” Jack Turban, a researcher at Harvard Medical School, told NBC News. “Gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents is endorsed by major medical organizations, including the Endocrine Society, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry. It should go without saying, but providing standard medical care should not be a felony.”

Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot Has Overseen A Huge Drop In The City’s Violent Crime Right And This Is Why

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Chicago’s Mayor Lori Lightfoot Has Overseen A Huge Drop In The City’s Violent Crime Right And This Is Why

Pixabay

Chicago, Illinois, is one of the mayor American cities that faces big challenges when it comes to fighting violent crime. Historically, the city has been renowned for the role that organized crime has had on politics and also because deep social inequality often leads to marginalization. Even though the city experiences high levels of criminality that need to be tackled, there are some promising signs as 2020 begins. And the newly elected mayor Lori Lightfoot might have a lot to do with it, and has some thoughts on why the city has experienced a double-digit fall on violent crime indexes. 

Lori Lightfoot, a queer Black woman, has had a great inaugural year in office.

Credit: Chicago Tonight / WTTW

Lightfoot is part of an important shift in local governments that has seen the number of female incumbents increase more than ever before. As NFINCE reported in its end of year recap of good things that happened in 2019, “with the April election of Lori Lightfoot in Chicago, a record number of black women (eight) served as mayors in the 100 largest cities in the United States.”

Lightfoot has been strong from day one, making masterful political moves such as firing a senior police officer that many had not dared to touch. As the Chicago Sun Times reports: “… she fired the retiring police superintendent she had celebrated one month earlier after accusing Eddie Johnson “lying” to her and to the public about the circumstances surrounding an embarrassing drinking-and-driving incident in mid-October. From a practical standpoint, Lightfoot’s decision simply means Johnson is gone a month earlier than the Dec. 31 retirement date he announced in October. But, from a political standpoint, it’s a sea change”. So yes, while in power she has made sure that the establishment knows that she has the upper hand. 

While cities like Baltimore experienced a spike in crime during 2019, Chicago’s went down by up to 10%!

As the non for profit The Crime Report points out: “Crime in Chicago is down. Though it hasn’t returned to 2014 levels, compared to late November of last year, reported crimes are down by 10 percent. That decrease is driven partly by significant declines in property crime. Violent crime has fallen by 11 percent”. This is great news for the Windy City, which has often been singled out by Republicans as evidence of Democrat failure in government. Let’s not forget that mamy Obama aides and Obama himself learnt to do politics in the tough Chicago scene and the city is a somewhat safe Democratic bastion.

In a televised interview, Lightfoot outlined what she thinks are the reasons behind this positive drop in violent crimes.

Credit: CNN / YouTube

The Chicago Mayor told CNN that one of the reasons for the drop is the alignment of the different government departments in the city to guarantee public safety. But above all, she stated, was the work with what she called “community partners” while being “on the ground”. This is a very similar approach that the Obama-school of Chicago politics advocates for. She also credits the support that the city government has been giving to victims of crime. Lightfoot also singled out the use of complex technology that alerts police when there is a shooting so they can act faster. Technology is being deployed in the most violent areas of the city. There is a constant flow of information that can be sent to the field to track cars, victims and shooters. 

But there is still a lot to do and the situation in Chicago remains less than ideal, so come structural changes are being put in motion.

Credit: WBEZ

As The Crime Report sums up: “Chicago is on track to record fewer than 500 homicides this year, a 35 percent decrease from 2016. Even if Chicago returned to its 2014 murder rate, that would still be three times higher than the national rate”. There are other challenges faced by the Chicago police, such as the low number of solved homicides in the city. 

One of the most significant changes to law enforcement structures enacted in 2019 was a considerable increase in the number of detectives in the city. As the Associated Press reports, the Chicago Police Department “is beefing up its detective ranks and spreading them around the city in the hope that it can catch up to departments in other major cities that solve a far higher percentage of homicide and other violent crime cases”. Authorities are optimistic about this change, as the AP further reports: “Police officials said will get detectives to crime scenes more quickly and give them a better chance of finding witnesses to interview” and “the move will foster public trust in communities, particularly those with high crime rates , and will allow residents to regularly see the same detectives”.

Violent crimes are down, yes, but other offenses that affect communities are up, as reported by The Wall Street Journal: “A rise in carjacking across Chicago has spooked residents even as police celebrate a drop in violent crimes such as shootings and homicides”. So there is still a lot of work to do.