After spending a year in prison, 17 year-old Pedro Hernandez of the Bronx, has been set free. Hernandez was arrested for the shooting of another teenager back in 2015. When he went to trial, instead of taking a plea bargain that would have set him free and allowed him to take advantage of a college scholarship, he maintained his innocence. His bail was set to $250,000 and his trial date pushed back beyond the date he needed to be a free man in order to accept the scholarship, in essence, losing it. Although things looked bleak for him, Hernandez, found a way to become a leader while incarcerated at Rikers Island, mentoring others and completing his studies.
In the past week, hate crimes have occurred back-to-back. And, it’s not just this week. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) released a somewhat shocking report in November that stated an increase in hate crimes in 2018. The FBI noted in 2018 that hate crimes reached a 16-year high. We say that the news was somewhat shocking because violence in the United States feels never-ending. If we’re not dealing with mass shootings, we’re dealing with crimes against people because of their background — sometimes both at the same time. Now — as if these actions were taken from a movie — people are taking it upon themselves to fight crime if authorities cannot.
The Guardian Angels have vowed to patrol the streets of New York City after a slew of anti-Semitic crimes in the state.
“These attacks are taking place, and the cops have not been proactive at all,” Curtis Sliwa, founder of the Guardian Angels, told NBC News. “It comes from City Hall and the mayor. He’s been just apathetic.”
“We’re a visual deterrence in our red berets and our red satin jackets,” Sliwa added. “Nobody’s going to commit an attack when we’re around.” So what exactly will the Guardian Angels do if someone does attempt to commit a crime and they happen to be there, Sliwa responded by saying, “we’ll physically restrain the persons responsible, make a citizen’s arrest and hold them until the police arrive.”
The Guardian Angels is a nonprofit that formed in 1979 and has “safety patrols chapters throughout the United States and worldwide.”
According to its website, Sliwa founded the group and currently has 12 volunteers in New York City. “The ‘Magnificent 13’ rode the subways to conduct safety patrol. For 37 years, thousands of people have joined the Guardian Angels and created chapters in over 130 cities in 13 countries to protect their communities and improve substantially the quality of life.”
However, not everyone is pleased that the Guardian Angels are taking on a vigilantly stand, especially because the group’s founding member has made disparaging remarks against various groups.
Political activist Rafael Shimunov tweeted a thread of clips that showed Sliwa making fun of the Jewish community and disparaging the Black community as well. Someone also linked out to a 1992 New York Times story in which Sliwa admitted to faking crimes for publicity.
Yet, others on social media are praising the Guadian Angels for stepping up and fighting hate crime in New York City streets.
One man tweeted, “So glad to see the Guardian Angels still doing amazing work on the streets after so many years. I remember hearing their amazing stories growing up. Thank you @CurtisSliwa and the @GA_DareToCare team!”
Another tweeted, “Love the Guardian Angels but it’s kind of crazy that this is where we’re at. Citizens on patrol duty in NYC. Onus is on all of us to band together and speak up in the face of discrimination and prejudice. Now more than ever. Silence is complicity. #zerotolerance #lovetrumpshate.”
Time will tell if the Guardian Angels will do anything to stop these hate crimes going on in New York and around the country because they’re not stopping anytime soon.
“The FBI said 485 hate crimes against Latinos were reported in 2018, up from 430 in 2017,” the New York Times reports. “It said 270 crimes were reported against Muslims and Arab-Americans, the fewest since 2014,” They added, “Hate crimes against Latinos were at their highest level since 2010, when the unemployment rate and border crossings from Mexico were both peaking. Some advocates placed the blame for the recent rise on President Trump.”
For the past several years, the country’s educational system has been challenged over what students should be learning in school and, for a good reason. The classes, in particular, history, are antiquated and, even more importantly, incorrect. As a society, we’ve been taught a white version of America’s history, and it’s only when we get to college or continue our studies elsewhere that we begin to discover the truth. But little by little, through education reform, teachers are attempting to change that in order to teach students about the real America and how their ancestors make up the fabric of this country. Some, however, in power positions don’t want that.
A legal battle has ensued between a Bronx principal and teachers in which both parties are calling each other racist.
The issue between these two parties began in 2018 when Mercedes Liriano, a teacher at Bronx Intermediate School 224, began teaching her sixth graders about the Harlem Renaissance in her art class during Black History Month.
Patricia Catania, a white principal of that school at the time, told her to stop the lesson immediately. She took away posters that students were carrying that depicted the image of singer Lena Horne. Catania said that Liriano didn’t approve her lesson plan for Black History Month, but Liriano, a black teacher, said she submitted her entire lesson plan for the year. Furthermore, in an interview with the Washington Post, Liriano said that she has been teaching those lessons during Black History Month for the past 14 years.
Teachers and parents were so appalled that the principal would prevent the teacher from teaching the Harlem Renaissance during Black History Month that they protested the matter.
The matter last year garnered national attention, and many high-profile black activists got involved.
“We’re learning about slavery and Harriet Tubman, but she says that I’m an ELA teacher and therefore should not be teaching that,” Liriano said last year to a local news station. “But it’s part of the New York state curriculum.”
Now, months after her demotion, the former principal has filed a lawsuit against three black teachers and the union because she says they falsely accused her of being racist and claims they discriminated against her.
“There is literally not a racist thought in my head, nor a racist molecule in my body, nor have I ever made a racist comment, or acted in a racist manner in my life,” Catania said in a sworn deposition.
Her lawyer adds, “She’s been portrayed as the villain, but she’s really the victim here,” Anthony Gentile, Catania’s lawyer, said in an interview with the Post. “It was racism, pure and simple, [even though] some people may not see her as sympathetic as when this happens to a brown-skinned person.”
Liriano wrote on Twitter, “Reverse racism does not exist when we were not or have ever been the oppressors! All I have ever done was instill PRIDE! in my students! My children! By teaching them about their rich culture and true stories!!”
We shall see how this matter plays out in court.
Last year, another Bronx school official was also investigated after she made some of her black students act as slaves so they could endure what they did.
Teacher Patricia Cummings at another Bronx school had some of her black students lay on the floor to reenact a “slave trade — and then stepped on their backs to show them what slavery felt like,” The New York Daily News reports.An investigation found that she didn’t do everything she was accused of. She was still fired, and she is also suing the school board for a billion dollars. Yes, you read that right.
“They’re on the record for saying the reason I’m being terminated is because of my performance as an educator and the report,” Cummings said according to ABC News. “My performance as an educator, I’ve been rated effective by the Department of Education. I’m an effective teacher.”