Things That Matter

Students Of Syracuse University Are Left Angered As Their Campus Is Rocked By Anonymous Acts Of Racism

It’s no secret that we’re living in a time that’s marked by the fear of domestic terrorism. Not only did hate crimes reach a 16 year high in 2018 according to the FBI, but according to the Gun Violence Archive, as of November 17th, there have been 369 mass shootings in the U.S. These two factors combined make the threat of mass violence a daily reality in the U.S. And that threat is the most acute for young adults going to school in the U.S.

And it’s no wonder that students on both college campuses and in high schools live in fear of an act of domestic terror being perpetrated against them. In a generation where 96% of American schools practice “active shooter” lockdown drills, young generations have been conditioned into being constantly on-guard for possible violence. And with the uptick in hate crimes, it’s understandable that students of color feel that they might be the target of a random act of domestic terrorism. Recently, the fear of mass violence has permeated the campus of Syracuse University.

Syracuse University has been making national headlines after a series of anonymous racist incidents rocked the central New York campus.

The panic at Syracuse began to build in early November, when, according to Vice, students woke up to “the n-word scrawled across the walls of both bathrooms on two floors of the residence hall”. Additionally, students of color had their name tags ripped away from their dorm room doors and torn apart. 

Things escalated further when a white supremacist manifesto infamous for its part in the Christchurch mosque shootings was uploaded to Syracuse’s page on the popular social media platform, GreekRank. And the fear reached a fever pitch when the Christchurch mosque shootings manifesto was allegedly anonymously air-dropped to a number of phones in the University library (the latter which has since been branded a “hoax” by the University chancellor). 

According to accounts, students are afraid to leave their dorms, go to class, and for students of color, draw attention to themselves in any way. Many are fleeing the campus altogether, opting to go home early as the semester winds to a close. Their professors, for the most part, have been understanding of their students’ fear. Professor of Writing Studies, Rhetoric, and Composition, Dr. Rebecca Moore Howard took to Twitter to address her students. “I have just canceled my classes tomorrow,” she said. “Too many students  messaging me that they’re scared to go to class….No class I teach is so important that my students—esp black, brown—should risk their safety”.

Students and faculty are angry at the administration for what they believe is a lackluster response to what they perceive as direct threats to minorities and marginalized groups on campus. 

Quickly, a movement that called itself #NotAgainSU formed, organizing a sit-in to protest what they believed was a lackluster response to the blatant racism happening on the university’s campus. The organization drew up a list of demands that included️ the expulsion of anyone involved in racist incidents and the hiring of more counselors the identify with marginalized groups.

But students and faculty are still disappointed at the action (or lack thereof) that the administration has taken. “There is a tension where it seems the administration is fearful of being sued by frats or affecting the University’s reputation,” said assistant political science professor Dr. Jenn M. Jackson to New York Magazine. “Meanwhile Black, Latinx, Asian, Jewish, and international/immigrant students are afraid to leave their rooms.” 

As inspiring as the student activism is, it didn’t stop the racially-motivated petty crimes from continuing to happen across campus. According the University’s Department of Public Safety, there were already 14 hate crimes reported during the length of the sit-in, one of them being a large swastika drawn in the snow. Another was an incident of derogatory graffiti aimed at Asians.

Although some progress has been made with Chancellor Kent Syverud recently admitting that there “are things that have not been handled well enough during this series of recent events,” many believe their words aren’t enough.

Students claim they won’t be happy until radical action is taken by the school’s administration.

Students of color are visibly fed up with living in fear.

Students are calling for the University’s chancellor to agree to their demands or resign.

Joe Biden, who went to Syracuse as an undergrad student, even chimed in on the conversation.

This observer makes it pretty clear what she thinks of people who won’t take a stand against hate:

https://twitter.com/MsEntropy/status/1197460596226174978?s=20 It’s moments like these that remind us that there is still so much work to do in the fight for racial, cultural, and religious equality.   

The Man Who Shot And Killed Trayvon Martin Is Now Suing His Family For $100 Million

Things That Matter

The Man Who Shot And Killed Trayvon Martin Is Now Suing His Family For $100 Million

Seminole Country Sheriff Department

George Zimmerman, who shot and killed Trayvon Martin, an unarmed teenager in the gated community of Sanford, Florida, has launched a $100 million lawsuit against Martin’s family, their lawyer and the prosecutors for defamation and “malicious prosecution,” according to the Guardian

In 2012, Zimmerman shot Martin by his own admission. Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” laws, which allow murder in the case of self-defense, meant that there was no initial charge against Zimmerman because police had no way of disputing his claim. However, when audio of Zimmerman’s call to the police revealed he followed Martin despite police orders not to, a public outcry sparked a trial. Prosecutors and authorities argued that the shooting was unjustified in court. 

The lawsuit filed by a rightwing conservative legal activist group known as Judicial Watch claims Zimmerman has PTSD and depression from the trial. 

Zimmerman, who has had multiple run-ins with the law since being acquitted of second-degree murder charges, filed a 36-page lawsuit claims the three parties ruined his reputation. He also claims he lives in fear of public death threats. Zimmerman’s attorney Lary Klayman says prosecutors relied on a “fake witness” who pretended to be Martin’s girlfriend but was really the half-sister of his allegedly real girlfriend. 

The witness in question, Rachel Jeantel was allegedly recruited by the state attorney Angela Corey when Martin’s real girlfriend refused to provide incriminating testimony.  Zimmerman and company believe Jeantel is a fraud largely because of a conspiracy theory propagated by a book and film that claim the Martin case was a hoax, according to the Washington Post

Both pieces of media allege that his case was built on witness fraud. The director of the film Joel Gilbert scheduled a screening of the film in celebration of the lawsuit announcement. 

Zimmerman is also suing for defamation of character.

Zimmerman’s lawsuit says that the civil rights attorney Benjamin Crump, who represented Martin’s parents, attempted to defame the murderer in his book Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People. 

“I have every confidence that this unfounded and reckless lawsuit will be revealed for what it is, another failed attempt to defend the indefensible and a shameless attempt to profit off the lives and grief of others,” Crump said in a statement.

“This plaintiff continues to display a callous disregard for everyone but himself. He would have us believe that he is the victim of a deep conspiracy despite the complete lack of any credible evidence to support his outlandish claims.”

Zimmerman has struggled with the law on multiple occasions since his acquittal.

In 2013,  Zimmerman was charged with felony aggravated assault after pointing a shotgun at his girlfriend allegedly. The case was dropped. In 2015, he was arrested on charges of domestic aggravated assault for throwing a wine bottle at his girlfriend, allegedly. The case was also dropped, according to the Washington Post. 

The same year, Zimmerman retweeted a photo of Martin’s deceased body with the caption “Z-man is a one-army, according to CBS News. The same year, Zimmerman was suspended from Twitter for posting semi-nude photos of his ex-girlfriend that revealed her personal information including her email and phone number. The caption accused her of sleeping with a “dirty Muslim.” 

In 2016, Zimmerman tried to auction the gun he used to kill Trayvon Martin to raise money to defend police officers from Black Lives Matter and Hillary Clinton, according to the Anchorage Daily News. Since Zimmerman murdered Martin in 2018, he was charged with stalking a private investigator who was working on a Jay-Z documentary about Martin. Zimmerman sent two and a half hours’ worth of voicemails to the private investigator. 

His legal troubles go back even before the shooting. In 2005, he was arrested for a domestic dispute resulting in a restraining order filed against him. In another incident that year, he was arrested for battery of an undercover officer who arrested Zimmerman’s underage friend. 

Crump did not seem to worry at all about Zimmerman’s lawsuit. It appears, he doesn’t have a leg to stand on in court.

“This tale defies all logic, and it’s time to close the door on these baseless imaginings,” Crump said. 

A Florida Politician Verbally Assaulted A Group Of Latinos But They Recorded The Incident

Things That Matter

A Florida Politician Verbally Assaulted A Group Of Latinos But They Recorded The Incident

@TrendsKey / Twitter

Late last month, a teenage Puerto Rican tennis player was accosted by local politician Martin Hyde at a tennis club in Sarasota, Florida. The tennis player captured the incident on video, which was later posted to social media by Puerto Rican attorney Alvin Couto de Jesus, who had originally gotten the video from the athlete’s uncle, Javier Irizarry.

In the video, Hyde is seated, speaking tersely with the athlete and his peers, before following them as they begin to leave the premises.

According to Irizarry, his 15-year-old nephew was invited to play in the Casely International Tennis Championship, which was hosted last week by Bath & Racquet Club at the Celsius Tennis Academy in Sarasota, Florida. The athlete was practicing for the tournament when, allegedly, Hyde approached him and his friends in an aggressive manner, instructing them to “cut grass” and “get out.” The video’s audio begins with Hyde telling one of the players to “keep [your] mouth shut.” The tennis player and his peers rebuke Hyde’s confrontation, calling him out for making racist comments and demanding that they leave.

“You’re telling me to cut grass because I’m Hispanic,” says one of the players. “That’s racism, man. How can you say something like that?”

The players continue to draw attention to Hyde’s racist comments before turning to leave the scene. Hyde gets up from his seat and follows them, crying, “Out! Out!” all the while.

Before leaving the Tennis Academy, the teens report the incident to Academy staff. Meanwhile, Hyde interrupts and tries to invalidate their story, accusing them of being disruptive and intoxicated.

“I don’t know what drugs they’re on,” he says, insisting that he is a “member of the club” and that he wants the teenagers to leave. The athletes repeat his comment about “cutting grass,” and while some of Hyde’s speech is muffled, his response to the teen is clear as day: “Yes,” he says. “So what?” When a staff member engages in an attempt to solve the conflict, Hyde encourages her to “throw them out,” eventually telling the teens to “shut up” before abruptly walking away.

Latino Rebels reported the story and shared the video on Friday. It has since circulated widely on social media, and as a result, Sarasota’s Bath & Racquet Club has banned Hyde from its premises.

“We have kids from all over the world, Central America, Latin America, who play here and compete to get scholarships for college,” Cary Cohenour, the director of Celsius Tennis Academy, which leases courts to the club, told NBC News. “The whole incident was out of control and though Celsius wasn’t involved, we want people to know that we denounce racism here.”

An active candidate for the District 2 Sarasota City Commission, Hyde planned to quit the race after news of the incident spread. However, he’s since announced that he may continue running. And in spite of the video evidence, Hyde adamantly denies making racist comments to the Puerto Rican tennis players, though he does admit that he acted inappropriately.

“I was rude and I regret that. It was a long day and my kids were being disturbed while they were having their lesson, because the boys were being loud,” Hyde said. “But I simply didn’t say those things, and that’s why they’re not in the video.”

Hyde also denies allegations—made by Twitter user @sergiodilan101, who Latino Rebels have identified as Irizarry’s nephew—that Hyde offered him $50,000 in exchange for the video.

In this Twitter thread, @sergiodilan101 recounts the story in great detail, expressing that before this incident, he and his compañero had never felt so “upset, frustrated, uncomfortable, and sad.” He encourages all Latinos to stand together and support each other in situations like this, and he has received an abundant outpouring of support and affirmation, both from people online, political figures, and family.

“We had a long talk about reality and I explained to him that this guy represents a really small minority and that his behavior wasn’t normal,” Irizarry told NBC News. “I hope by sharing the video we can prevent something like this from happening again.”

Additionally,  Peter Vivaldi, a former Republican candidate for the Florida state Senate—who is also of Puerto Rican descent—responded to the video by saying that “if you’re a public figure . . . you run for everybody, you represent everybody.”

He added, “This is not what we want to represent any party and less do we want that in the state of Florida, where we’re talking about Puerto Ricans that are American citizens. We need to make sure if you’re Republican or Democrat, if you’re saying things that are not appropriate, we need to call you out.”