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.   

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Ben Affleck Gets Candid About the ‘Racist, Sexist’ Attacks JLo Faced When They Were Together

Entertainment

Ben Affleck Gets Candid About the ‘Racist, Sexist’ Attacks JLo Faced When They Were Together

Photo via Getty Images

Ben Affleck is opening up about the early 2000s when he and Jennifer Lopez were Hollywood’s It Couple. The duo–formerly known by the moniker “Bennifer”–captivated the world with their glamourous and somewhat surprising courtship.

But the relationship eventually unraveled under the intense pressure of public scrutiny.

In a recent podcast appearance, Affleck revealed just how terrible and racially-charged the criticism on their relationship was.

“People were so f–king mean about her,” he said on The Hollywood Reporter’s Awards Chatter podcast. “Sexist, racist, ugly, vicious s–t was written about her in ways that if you wrote it now, you would literally be fired for saying those things you said.”

“At first At first it was like Dick and Liz [Richard Burton and Elizabeth Taylor], it was this sort of infatuation: ‘What an interesting couple‘. And then there was a ton of resentment. A ton of resentment against me, a ton of resentment against Jennifer.”

He went on to explain that what was so fascinating about the relationship to the general public–namely, how they had such vastly different backgrounds–wasn’t something he thought twice about.

Affleck went on to sing JLo’s praises, saying that she deserves all of the praise and adulation she now receives.

“Now it’s like, she’s lionized and respected for the work she did, where she came from, what she accomplished–as well she f**king should be!” he said.

“She was very much like the kind of girl I went to high school with,” he explained. “It was a very socioeconomically mixed, ethnically mixed place–those kinds of differences that just seem to shock America were meaningless to me.”

“I would say you have a better shot, coming from the Bronx, of ending up as like [Justice Sonia] Sotomayor on the Supreme Court than you do of having Jennifer Lopez’s career and being who she is at 50 years old today…just on a pure odds level.”

He concluded: “I never met anyone who worked harder than Jennifer Lopez.” On that, we can definitely agree.

Jennifer Lopez has also been candid about how traumatic the public response was back then to her relationship with Ben Affleck.

“I was eviscerated,” she told Vanity Fair in 2017 about the media coverage of her and Ben’s relationship we well as their much-maligned film, “Gigli”. “I lost my sense of self, questioned if I belonged in this business, thought maybe I did suck at everything. And my relationship [with Affleck] self-destructed in front of the entire world. It was a two-year thing for me until I picked myself up again.”

But now, it appears they’re both in happier places. Ben Affleck has two children with his ex-wife, Jennifer Garner and JLo is happily engaged to Alex Rodriguez.

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More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Things That Matter

More Information Has Come Out About the Man Who Senselessly Shot a Young Woman While She Was Walking Her Dog

Photo via bella_joy_gardens/Instagram

On June 10th, 2020, a senseless crime was committed. 21-year-old Isabella Thallas was shot and killed while she was out walking her dog with her boyfriend, 26-year-old Darian Simon. Simon, who was shot as well, survived.

Almost immediately after Thallas lost her life, the police were informed of the murderer: 36-year-old Michael Close, who lived in the same building as the couple.

Michael Close had shot the couple from his window with an AK-47. Thallas died almost instantly.

Close was quickly arrested and charged with first-degree murder, first-degree attempted murder, first-degree assault, and possession of a high-capacity magazine during a crime.

But questions piled up as to why Close committed this crime in the first place. Why did he target the couple? Was the murder pre-meditated? How did this unstable man get his hands on an AK-47?

As the police put the pieces together, the motive was shocking. According to Close, he shot and killed Thallas because her dog defecated in the alley behind his unit.

The story he gave police lined up with Darian Simon’s version of events as well. Simon says that he and Thallas were walking their dog together behind their building. Simon commanded the dog to “poop” when he heard Close yelling at him from the window above them.

“Are you going to train that f—ing dog or just yell at it?” Close allegedly yelled out the window at them. When Simon bent down to pick up the dog’s feces, that’s when Close open-fired out the window. Simon was able to run away with wounds to his lower body. Thallas lost her life.

According to Close’s girlfriend, the man had been mentally unwell for a long time.

He had been diagnosed with depression as well as a personality disorder but refused to seek help. He frequently abused drugs and alcohol after being sober for three years.

The murder of Thallas was a culmination of a tumultuous night where he had been drinking and arguing with his girlfriend for hours. Thallas just happened to be the person who was at the receiving-end of his outburst. She was at the wrong place at the wrong time.

And recently, some more disturbing information has come to light about Thallas’s murder.

According to Denver Police, the gun that Close used to murder Thallas was taken from his friend, police officer Sgt. Dan Politica.

The close friendship between a police officer and an unhinged murder is, understandably, drawing questions from the Denver community.

The Denver Police Department confirmed that Close and Politica were “close friends”. Thalla’s mother, Anna Thallas, appears to have even more information on the friendship.

“They’re best friends. Life-long best friends for over 20 years. They grew up together,” she told 9News Denver.

Anna Thallas is angry and frustrated that the Denver police aren’t conducting an internal investigation.

The DPD argues that Sgt. Politica did nothing wrong. Thallas points to his failure to report the rifle missing until after her daughter was missing as a massive red flag. It is also worth noting that Politica has a history of violence and disciplinary actions by the DPD.

According to phone records, Close texted Sgt. Politica before the murder complaining about a dog in his neighborhood. After he murdered Thallas, he left Politica a voicemail saying he “really f—-d up bad.”

“That man should be stripped of his uniform,” Anna Thallas said. “Had that officer acted in his capacity and the oath that he took to serve and protect and was a responsible gun owner, Isabella might still be alive. My daughter might still be here.”

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