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.

AOC Has A D.O.G And It’s Making Its Rounds About Capitol Hill

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AOC Has A D.O.G And It’s Making Its Rounds About Capitol Hill

Just when we thought Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) couldn’t shake up the D.C. scene more than she already has, it turns out the congresswoman has a new trick up her sleeve.

Earlier this year in January, news surfaced that the congresswoman had adopted a French bulldog by the name of Deco. In a post to her Instagram page, the progressive Democrat welcomed the pup into the world with a post writing “Hey boo boo! Hi, welcome to our family.”

Now it turns out, AOC’s new pup is meant for the community, so you might have a chance to hang with him if you’re in his side of the hood

View image on Twitter

Responding to a question on Twitter about whether she intended to bring the dog to work, AOC said Deco is meant to be a dog about town.

“The goal is to train him to be a community pup,” she shared in a post that featured him taking a nap in her lap. “Ideally we want to work to the point where he can enjoy town halls, be an Amtrak pup, come to the office, etc. But first, naps.”

According to People.com, AOC’s new Frenchie had been nameless for a few weeks and the congresswoman eagerly collected name suggestions from her followers on twitter.

“He doesn’t have a name yet!,” Ocasio wrote in an Instagram in January. “We are thinking something Star Trek-related or Bronx/Queens/NYC/social good related.”

Ultimately Ocasio-Cortez did pick a name from suggested from her community.

“As we took [the dog] for a walk…a neighbor suggested we name him after an artist,” AOC explained in an Instagram story. Ultimately the congresswoman and her boyfriend Riley decided to not go for an artist’s name but one inspired by the early 20th-century art deco movement. “We loved the idea, and decided to name him after one of Riley & I’s favorite design styles: Art Deco — which also is inspired by themes of optimism & social and technological progress, and is a fixture in iconic NYC architecture,” she later explained said.

Turns out, AOC’s new French is rocketing to stardom just like his mother.

Earlier this week, Representative Ayanna Pressley (D–Mass.) shared a photo of herself hanging out with Deco for the very first time and used it as a chance to hype up AOC.

“Making the Capitol better one puppy snuggle at a time: @AOC & Deco,” Pressley tweeted in a post

Rep. Veronica Escobar Delivers Spanish State Of The Union Response Touching On Healthcare And Gun Reform

Things That Matter

Rep. Veronica Escobar Delivers Spanish State Of The Union Response Touching On Healthcare And Gun Reform

PBS News Hour / YouTube

President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union address on Feb. 4. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi tore up her copy of the speech and conservative radio personalist Rush Limbaugh being awarded the Presidential Medal of Honor. There were also several responses to the SOTU, including Representative Veronica Escobar, who delivered her rebuttal in Spanish.

President Donald Trump delivered his State of the Union on Tuesday night.

Fact-checkers have combed through the speech and determined the lies and misleading information peppered throughout. The speech, according to NowThis, contained one lie every 2.5 minutes. The SOTU made the news for multiple reasons, but most notably, people have been talking about Nancy Pelosi tearing up a copy of President Trump’s speech.

Democrats have taken their time responding to Trump on social media.

Senator Chuck Schumer took to the Senate floor on Feb. 5 to address one inaccuracy he found in President Trump’s SOTU. The New York senator called out Trump on his claims of the growing economy is his own. While the Trump administration has seen economic growth, charts and trends show the positive nature of the economy to be residual effects of Obama’s policies that wrangled in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

One response to President Trump’s SOTU was from Rep. Veronica Escobar.

Rep. Escobar, who represented Texas’s 16th congressional district, delivered a SOTU response in Spanish to include more people in the conversation. There are 32 million Latinos who are eligible to vote in the upcoming presidential election. A large number of Latino voters are concentrated in California, New Mexico, and Texas.

Rep. Escobar used the beginning of her speech to address the need for accessible and affordable healthcare.

Credit: @vgescobar / Twitter

Rep. Escobar delivered her SOTU response from the El Centro de Salud Familiar La Fe, a clinic that serves her community in El Paso. The representative used the setting to address the attack on health clinics by the Trump administration. Rep. Escobar highlighted the Republicans claiming that they are fighting to protect Americans’ healthcare but their actions say otherwise. In the House of Representatives, 183 Republicans voted to block legislation that protected coverage from healthcare providers for pre-existing conditions.

Even people who do not support the Affordable Care Act have found some common ground with the representative.

Credit: @jcrowder55 / Twitter

“Democrats are fighting back. In the first year of our House Majority, Democrats passed sweeping legislation to dramatically reduce the price of prescription drugs, shore up protections for people with pre-existing conditions and crack down on shoddy short-term health insurance plans – what we call ‘junk plans,’” Escobar said in her response.

“In contrast to the Republicans, we know that health care is a right for all, not a privilege for the few.”

The representative also spoke about the tragic El Paso shooting that rocked the Latino community.

Credit: @JessEscoATX / Twitter

Rep. Escobar used the moment to address the contentious debate on gun control raging between the two parties.

“On August 3rd of last year, El Paso suffered from the deadliest targeted attack against Latinos in American history,” Rep. Escobar said during her speech. “A domestic terrorist confessed to driving over 10 hours to target Mexicans and immigrants. Just before he began his killing spree, he posted his views online and used hateful language like the very words used by President Trump to describe immigrants and Latinos.”

“That day, the killer took 22 innocent lives, injured dozens, and broke all of our hearts.”

“Incidents of gun violence take place in our schools, places of worship and neighborhoods every single day.”

“Democrats understand that this is a matter of life and death. As one of our first actions, our Majority passed legislation that would strengthen background checks and save lives, which is supported by an overwhelming majority of the public.”

Latinos were appreciative to hear a response to the SOTU address in their native language.

Credit: @sffcorgi / Twitter

A study by Latino Decisions found that the use of Spanish-language ads increases voter turnout. In markets with Spanish-language ads, the number of Latinos who turned out to vote increased from 49.8 percent to 60.2 percent. The study also showed that 68 percent of people relied on Spanish-language news or ads on a daily and weekly basis.

READ: Who Is Rep. Veronica Escobar? The Congresswoman Representing El Paso, Texas And Fighting For Her Community