3 months ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Rhode Island Teen Reunites Owners With Repossessed Storage Units
A Rhode Island teen is being praised for his good deeds after he started buying repossessed storage units to help previous owners recover their belongings. Initially, Shane Jones, 16, started out bidding on the contents of the units as a way for him to make some extra cash over the summer. But it wasn’t long before the Wakefield teen felt that he shouldn’t profit from the items in the units. “I started out thinking that bidding at a storage auction was kind of like a yard sale, but now I know that’s not true. These people didn’t choose to give me this stuff. They didn’t have a choice. It’s almost like a duty to give it back” Shane said.
In August of last year, Shane found a storage unit auction in Providence near his home and decided to put in a bid of $100. He won the auction but when he went to visit the unit he began to feel sad as he sifted through the household goods, stuffed animals, personal mementos and other documents. “I realized then that this wasn’t the same as getting stuff at a yard sale. This guy was in prison, and his storage unit was auctioned off because he couldn’t afford to pay for it. This was probably everything he had left.”
Shane asked his parents Patrick Jones and Sarah Markey, to help him find the original owner’s mother. They eventually located the woman at a retirement home in Providence and then took a trip to return the storage unit’s contents. The woman was thrilled to be reunited with her son’s belongings. Her reaction was enough to spark Shane’s interest and inspire him to keep going.
Since embarking on the project last summer, Shane has helped reunite three families with the contents inside their former storage units. His next storage unit auctions came in October 2020 and January 2021. The October unit contained an address book, which Shane said he used to help him find the original owners’ family. “The couple who rented the locker had passed away, but there was a phone number for their brother-in-law, and he was happy to come out and get everything. He said there were a lot of family heirlooms that could have been lost” Shane said.
Shane easily found the owner of the January unit because her name was on several items. When he connected with the woman he learned she was unable to pay for the unit after losing her job and that she also lost a child to sudden infant death syndrome three years earlier. “All of her baby items and all of her childhood photos were in the storage locker” Shane said. When the woman picked up the items she started to cry saying everything she had to remind her of her baby was in the locker.
Since taking on the storage unit project, word has spread about Shane’s acts of kindness. His mother said that her son has been caught off guard by the attention of his kind acts but hopes that his story will inspire others to do good in their communities. “I couldn’t be more proud of this kid, for going the extra step, for people he doesn’t know. It is actually a lot of work that he puts into this effort. And I think that part of what he has learned by meeting people who he gifted with this kindness is that putting good into the world is one of the most gratifying things that he can do.” she continued.
10 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on Barbershop Employees Step In to Help Jersey City Eatery During Covid Quarantine
There is no denying the restaurant industry has been hard hit during the pandemic. One Jersey City eatery saw their neighbors step in when they were dealt with another blow. Würstbar had a staff member exposed to the virus and rather than running risk of spreading the disease, the management decided the best course of action was to shut down—at least temporarily. But their neighbors at Virile Barber Shop swooped in to help after seeing their post about the temporary close.
They posted on their Instagram page “No, we are not randomly closed for ‘renovations!’ We unfortunately, had an exposure to COVID-19 at Würstbar. Würstbar is a small team run by an extremely hardworking and loyal staff. Running the restaurant with only non-exposed employees isn’t an option for us at the moment. We decided as a team that we would close until every employee exposed or not has been tested and can return to work confident in their safety, and equally as important, our guests’ safety. Thank you to @hdsid_jc and Prestige Health Mobile for getting the entire staff tested so quickly. We look forward to serving you soon.”
Word of Würstbar’s crew quarantine quickly made the rounds of the tight-knit community and in less than 24 hours, workers from Virile Barber Shop just up the street stepped up, offering to lend a hand by taking shifts to keep Würstbar open for business until the impacted staff members could all be tested and cleared.
“The weather is too nice out to let our neighbors at Würstbar stay closed!” Virile Barber Shop owner Andre Fersa posted. “I’ve taken over the bar and am selling PRETZELS, beer, wine and cider for outdoor seating only. Come on by and support this great staff.”
As expected, the grateful Würstbar staff was soon singing the praises of the generous community volunteers who’d pitched in to keep their doors open. “A big thank you to the crew at @virile for taking over Würstbar yesterday, that was a blast! We love this community and couldn’t ask for better neighbors. Let’s not forget barbershops and salons were hit just as hard as restaurants during the shutdown. With so many people home from the office and big events not happening it’s easy to skip a cut here and there. If you have the means, please get that extra cut and look your best for your Zoom call or socially distanced gathering.”
Fersa and his friend, Joe Mercurio, got a quick crash course and soon enough Wurstbar was open for business. There were no tables inside, no cocktails, and their typically large menu of brats, sausages, hot dogs and poutine was pared down to just hot pretzels. But from noon until around 6 p.m. on Saturday, Fersa and Mercurio ran the show with Kahn supervising. Neighborhood locals got word that Virile was taking over Wurstbar for the day and came out to support the business, with outdoor tables packed throughout the day. The Kitchen Step, another Jersey Avenue restaurant, offered to send help if they needed it and bought a bunch of hot pretzels to feed their staff.
Kahn has tried to be optimistic as possible throughout the pandemic, but admits the positive COVID-19 test knocked him down. The bar was closed from Nov. 8 until Nov. 12, until all the employees tested negative. But Fersa stepping up to help out, even for just one day, rejuvenated him. “I didn’t feel that feeling of defeat anymore. I felt like, ‘I’ve got this.’ It kind of revived me, like we’ll get through this closure. I felt like I needed that,” Kahn said. “Andre stepping in and helping me out really just brought me back.”
11 months ago ·
by Health Insurance 4 Everyone ·
Comments Off on Iconic Strand Bookstore Sounds Call For Help
Like many independent businesses across the country, the beloved NYC book store the Strand is in trouble. A Greenwich Village fixture since 1927, known worldwide for its “18 miles of books,” the Strand is the single remaining establishment out of 48 bookstores that once ran the length of 4th Avenue’s famous Book Row. Unfortunately, with the Covid-19 pandemic reducing crucial foot-traffic, store proprietor Nancy Bass Wyden, granddaughter of the store’s original owner, posted a cry for help on Twitter.
In a last-ditch effort to save her beloved family business, Bass Wyden reached out to her customer base with a plea for help. “I’m going to pull out all the stops,” she tweeted, “to keep sharing our mutual love of the printed word. But for the first time in the Strand’s 93-year history, we need to mobilize the community to buy from us so we can keep our doors open until there’s a vaccine.”
The response from the Strand’s loyal clientele came in the form of an avalanche of 25,000 orders over the course of a single weekend that crashed the store’s website and brought in approximately $200,000 in sales. One patron ordered 197 books. That was followed up by round-the-block lines at the store’s flagship location on Broadway and East 12th Street in lower Manhattan when the store opened.
Having suffered heavy financial losses earlier in the year, even with the amazing outpouring of love and a much-needed boost in revenue, the Strand isn’t out of the woods just yet, but Bass Wyden is determined not to give up. Revenue was down 70% since this time last year, the business’ cash reserves had depleted, and the $1 million to $2 million loan the Strand received in government emergency relief in April is running dry.
Bass Wyden started working at the Strand in the mid-’70s, when she was 16, and inherited full ownership of the business, including the building at 828 Broadway, from her father, Fred Bass, after his death in 2017. The bookstore has withstood the Great Depression, two World Wars, and the 9/11 terror attacks, but the pandemic could be its downfall. “As the 3rd generation owner,” she said, “I have tried to imagine what my dad and grandfather would do right now after they spent their entire lives—6 days a week—working at the store. I don’t believe they would want me to give up without a fight.” Bass Wyden said.
“Never did I imagine that the store’s financial situation would become so dire that I would have to write friends and devoted customers for help,” owner Nancy Bass Wyden said in an open letter. “It hurts to write this, but that is the predicament that we are in now.” For the first time since her grandfather founded the store 93 years ago, Bass Wyden said, the time had come to ask customers for help. She’s asking all loyal lovers of the written word to start the holidays early and Shop the Strand to save the Strand.
1 year ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Hormel Foods to Provide Free College Education to Children of All US Employees
Hormel Foods announced that starting next year, they will begin offering two years of free college tuition to all the children of their American employees. The program is called “Inspired Pathways,” will begin in the fall of 2021. The new program, which will not be based on achievement in test scores or GPA, is a way to create equality in education admissions—and the company hopes many who take advantage of the offer will be first-generation college students in their families.
A spokesperson for Hormel Foods said the company has over 16,000 domestic employees and the program is open to any dependent child of those workers. The company has more than 30 plant and office locations in the U.S., primarily in the Midwest, and the kids can attend any community college of their choice as long as they graduate from high school and meet the school’s entry requirements. “When you think about how a college education can change lives and start a ripple effect that will be felt for generations, that’s the change-maker Hormel Foods wants to be,” said Jim Snee, the company president and CEO, in a statement.
“Our inspired team consists of some of the most incredibly hardworking and dedicated people you will ever encounter. We have people from all backgrounds and cultures, and it is this diversity that fuels us and makes us the global leader we are in our industry. In some cases, we have team members who never had the opportunity to attend college. This program allows them to give their children that opportunity, creating a new generation of college students. They do so much for us, it’s truly a gift that we are excited to give to them.” said Jim Sheehan, an executive vice president and CFO, in a statement.
The company is investing money into the program and making a large effort to make sure people know about it, encouraging supervisors to reach out to their employees about it and help guide them through the process if they’re interested. The company will be partnering with community colleges in cities where it has operations. Additionally, the company will be creating community mentorship committees to provide resources to the students, including assistance with applications. The program will also work with students on internships and other career development opportunities.
The Hormel Foundation has offered a similar program the past couple years that allowed students from Austin, Minnesota, where the company is headquartered, to attend Riverland Community College free of charge. Austin Public Schools Superintendent David Kranz said the foundation’s program has been instrumental in getting students into college who might not have gone otherwise. “We know that for a fact,” he said.
“Inspired Pathways” is an expanded version of the highly successful Austin Assurance Scholarship, to benefit the high school graduates of Hormel employees across the country, rather than just students who live locally. Additionally, the company offers tuition reimbursement for current team members who go back to school while working at Hormel Foods.
1 year ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Violent Clashes At Protests Across America
Protests have turned violent in several cities while clashing with right-wing groups. A Kalamazoo City Commissioner called out a Kalamazoo pastor who organized a unity rally the same day the Proud Boys planned to protest. The Southern Poverty Law Center considered The Proud Boys a hate group. Several fights broke out when the Proud Boys came face-to-face with counter protesters in downtown Kalamazoo Saturday Aug. 15, 2020. Nathan Dannison, who organized the prayer vigil and unity rally, said at the he did not know the Michigan People’s Defense League was coming.
Kalamazoo City Commissioner Erin Knott said violence may have been avoided if counter-protesters stayed home. “I think that only gave the Proud Boys the intention and the fuel they so desire. We know from researching the Proud Boys, they don’t start the fight, they finish the fight,” Knott said. The two groups violently clashed. Video showed members of the Proud Boys use pepper spray on counter-protesters and people using torn down street signs as bats. The violence was contentious and assaultive on both sides.
In Georgia, a pro-Confederacy rally drew armed, far-right militia members to the Stone Mountain Confederate Memorial in Stone Mountain Park Saturday. Videos on social media showed far-right protestors attacking anti-facism protesters with pepper spray as the counter-protesters chanted “Go home, racists!” and anti-facism protesters grabbing Confederate flags and setting them alight. The protest dispersed when police in riot gear moved in on the crowd at around 1 p.m., and ordered demonstrators to leave or be arrested. Photos from the scene showed the National Guard moving in as well.
After a long day of peaceful protests, agitators descended on Chicago after many protestors went home. The riot resulted in 24 arrests after “multiple agitators” used black umbrellas, changed their appearance and assaulted officers by using skateboards, bottles, bicycles and other projectiles as well as mace. One peaceful protestor defended the actions of police, saying officers responded proportionately to get the situation under control and used pepper spray to deter agitators. Seventeen officers were injured during the clash.
In Portland, Oregon, right-wing extremists and members of the “alt-right” group Patriot Prayer organized a small rally, where they shot pellets from paintball guns and pepper spray against counter-protesters. Patriot Prayer and its leader, Joey Gibson, have organized three of the most violent protests in Portland’s recent history, on Aug. 6, 2017; June 30, 2018; and Oct. 13, 2018. He also organized a large Aug. 4, 2018 rally that led police to use crowd control agents on leftist counter-demonstrators, severely injuring several people with flash-bang grenades.
Protests have happened nightly in Portland for more than two months following the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police. Police are looking for a suspect shown on video assaulting a driver until he was unconscious. Authorities had received a report around 10:30 p.m. of protesters chasing a truck a few blocks from the downtown federal courthouse. The driver crashed and was then assaulted. Video posted online showed the driver of the truck sitting in the street next to the vehicle. A crowd gathered around him and repeatedly punched and kicked him in the head until he was bloody. It wasn’t immediately clear what led to the crash or the confrontation. When police arrived, the man was unconscious. The victim of the assault has been released from a hospital and is recovering.
1 year ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Covid 19 Cases Rising Worldwide
Worldwide there are over 19 million confirmed cases and over 780,000 deaths. Confirmed coronavirus cases in the United States have topped 5.3 million and 166,000 deaths — by far the highest caseload in the world. Brazil has over 3 million confirmed cases and 165,000 deaths, the second highest number of cases behind the US. As the new school year starts or approaches for kids across the US, a new report by the American Academy of Pediatrics found that nearly 100,000 children contracted COVID-19 in the last two weeks of July.
Across five US states, more than 2,000 students, teachers and school employees have been quarantined, after hundreds tested positive for the coronavirus at the start of the school year. That includes nearly 1,200 people quarantined in the Cherokee County School District outside Atlanta, Georgia. In another Georgia school district, a high school that recently suspended two students for posting images of classmates ignoring social distancing guidelines and not wearing masks announced it is implementing remote learning for part of the week, after at least nine students and staffers tested positive for COVID-19.
A school district in Arizona canceled its plans to reopen schools after several dozen teachers staged a “sick out” in protest. “We have received an overwhelming response from staff indicating that they do not feel safe returning to classrooms with students,” Gregory Wyman, the superintendent of the J.O. Combs Unified School District, said in a letter to families posted online Friday. “In response, we have received a high volume of staff absences for Monday citing health and safety concerns.” All classes, including virtual learning, will be canceled, though breakfasts and lunches will be available for pickup, he said. Arizona has over 190,000 confirmed cases and over 4,000 deaths.
In California, the director of the Department of Public Health abruptly resigned Sunday, following the discovery of a computer system failure that led to an undercounting of California’s COVID-19 cases. California has a recorded 630,000 cases and 11,545 people have died. With cases still surging, most schools in California will not be reopening for in-person education this month.
Across the globe in New Zealand, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned Auckland may go back into a lengthy lockdown, after 13 new community coronavirus cases were detected. New Zealand spent more than 100 days without reporting any cases, after health officials responded early and aggressively to the pandemic. They have 1,458 confirmed cases and just 22 deaths.
In Australia, Melbourne remains on a strict lockdown as the country reported a record 21 coronavirus deaths. Sixteen of the deaths are linked to outbreaks in nursing homes. Australia has over 23,000 confirmed cases and over 400 deaths recorded.
Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Response Coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force said the US is in a new phase in its fight against the coronavirus pandemic, saying that the deadly virus is more widespread than when it first took hold in the US earlier this year. “What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas.” Birx stressed that Americans need to follow health recommendations, including wearing a mask and practicing social distancing. Birx would not give a projection of how many deaths the US would see by the end of year, but she said a death toll largely depends on southern and western states to maintain and accelerate their mitigation efforts. Those states have become hot spots for the virus
1 year ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Covid 19 Cases Surge As Research On Lasting Effects Continues
Coronavirus cases continue to surge in much of the United States, where the number of confirmed infections has topped 4.6 million, with nearly 155,000 reported deaths. Florida has surpassed New York to become the state with the second-highest number of infections after California. Almost 66,000 new COVID-19 cases and more than 1,400 deaths from the virus were reported in the U.S. on July 29th, 2020. The toll marks the highest number of deaths from COVID-19 in a single day since May 15. A total of 773 of those deaths were reported by coronavirus hot-spot states Arizona, California, Florida and Texas. Florida reported a state record of 216 coronavirus-related deaths in 24 hours.
In California, healthcare providers say they are again dealing with shortages in testing, which is hitting low-income and immigrant communities the hardest. In Texas, doctors at a rural hospital in Starr County have received critical care guidelines to help them decide which COVID-19 patients the hospital can treat and those whom they send home because they are more likely to die. With the virus continuing to spread out of control, researchers at Johns Hopkins University are calling for a “reset” in the U.S. coronavirus response with universal mask mandates, federal support for expanded testing and a new round of stay-at-home orders in hot spots. And in an open letter published Wednesday, the Association of American Medical Colleges writes, “If the nation does not change its course — and soon — deaths in the United States could be well into the multiple hundreds of thousands.”
Globally, coronavirus cases have now topped 16.2 million and over 650,000 have died since the first cluster of cases were reported in late December 2019 in Wuhan China. Last week, the worldwide caseload jumped by 1 million in just four days. The World Health Organization declared the outbreak the most severe global health emergency the WHO has ever faced.
As European nations scramble to prevent a second wave of infections, Britain has reinstated a 14-day quarantine for travelers coming from Spain. Globally, 11 million people have recovered. For those who survive COVID-19, there’s increasing evidence of long-term organ damage with more studies underway. A new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association found that of 100 middle-aged patients who recovered from COVID-19, 78 had structural damage to their hearts.
One study group in Italy found that 87% of patients hospitalized for acute COVID-19 were still struggling 2 months later. Data from the COVID Symptom Study, which uses an app into which millions of people in the United States, United Kingdom, and Sweden have entered their symptoms, suggest 10% to 15% of people—including some “mild” cases—don’t quickly recover. But with the crisis just months old, no one knows how far into the future symptoms will endure, and whether COVID-19 will prompt the onset of chronic diseases.
Distinct features of the virus, including its propensity to cause widespread inflammation and blood clotting, could play a role in the assortment of concerns now surfacing. Survivor studies are just starting to probe them. Researchers across the United Kingdom have launched a study that will follow 10,000 survivors for 1 year to start, and up to 25 years. Ultimately, researchers hope to understand the disease’s long shadow and hopefully be able to predict who’s at highest risk of lingering symptoms and learn whether treatments in the acute phase of illness can head them off.
1 year ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Tensions Rise Over Schools Reopening in US
In the US, Covid 19 has killed nearly 141,000 people and infected 3.8 million — both by far the highest numbers in the world. The US has more than a quarter of the deaths and infections in the entire world, yet only a little more than 4% of the population. As cases continue to spike, tensions spike over schools reopening. As schools across the country prepare to reopen for in-classroom learning, teachers are trying to figure out the safest way to resume in-person education. While some schools have given the option for online courses, others are still working on plans to return to the classroom. Lawmakers in Washington are pushing to include a provision in a new coronavirus relief package tying school funding to the reopening of classrooms. Many public health officials fear the reopening of schools could lead to a new surge in COVID-19 deaths and hospitalizations.
Three teachers in Arizona were sharing a classroom for two hours a day teaching online summer school classes during the pandemic. Despite following protocols — social distancing, wearing masks and gloves, and using hand sanitizer — they were all sickened by the coronavirus. Kimberley Chavez Lopez Byrd, 61, died June 26, less than two weeks after she was hospitalized. The two surviving teachers, Jena Martinez and Angela Skillings, said that it is not yet safe for kids, or teachers, to return to the classroom. Martinez said that when they began to do their online schooling from campus, they followed plans in place meant to keep them safe from the virus.
In Arizona, teachers want Governor Doug Ducey to push the start of in-person school to at least early October after the beloved educator died of COVID-19 teaching summer school and statewide hospitalizations and deaths spiral. At stake, Arizona teachers say, is the safety of the state’s 1.1 million public school students and 20,000 teachers. Arizona has been hit hard by the virus this summer as its 7-day average of new cases has gone from 500 at the end of May to more than 3,000 in July, while hospitals’ intensive care capacity, according to most recent data from Arizona Department of Public Health, stood at a nearly 90% percent last week.
Florida has reported more than 10,000 new coronavirus cases for the sixth day in a row. On Monday, Florida’s largest teachers’ union sued Republican Governor Ron DeSantis to block his order requiring all schools to reopen next month despite the growing pandemic, which has killed nearly 5,200 Floridians.
Meanwhile, Missouri Governor Mike Parson is insisting students go to school despite the risk of the virus. He received backlash after giving an interview where he said “These kids have got to get back to school. They’re at the lowest risk possible. And if they do get COVID-19, which they will — and they will when they go to school — they’re not going to the hospitals. They’re not going to have to sit in doctor’s offices. They’re going to go home and they’re going to get over it. We gotta move on,” he continued. “We can’t just let this thing stop us in our tracks.” Many criticized his statement calling it “stunning ignorance” saying the virus “doesn’t stop with our children. The teachers, bus drivers, janitors, food service workers, parents, grandparents and neighbors who our children see every day are susceptible to this virus, too. We need a plan that keeps all Missouri families safe.” Missouri has 47,519 confirmed cases and 1,268 deaths.
It is still unclear how frequently children transmit the virus to others. Some data suggests children are less susceptible to contracting the virus and spreading it to adults. According to the CDC, 175,374 cases have been confirmed in kids ages 17 and under, accounting for approximately 6% of all confirmed cases. A large study recently shared out of South Korea found children between the ages of 10 and 19 can spread the virus as much as adults do, while children younger than the age of 10 transmit the virus to others less often than adults.
1 year ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on Two Indiana Men Arrested in Viral July 4th Attack
Two Indiana men were charged in an alleged assault against a Black man who was seen in a viral video being held against his will in the woods near an Indiana lake on the Fourth of July. Sean Purdy and Jerry Cox are charged with various crimes, including confinement and battery against 36-year-old Vauhxx Booker. Purdy and Cox were part of a group of five men who pinned Booker to a tree, beat him and threatened to lynch him. Booker was able to escape them after passersby intervened. A portion of the assault was captured on video by the strangers who intervened.
Monroe County Prosecutor Erika Oliphant has filed two active warrants for the two men and says Booker will face no charges. Purdy is charged with criminal confinement, battery resulting in injury and intimidation, all felonies. Cox is charged with aiding or causing criminal confinement, felony battery resulting in injury, intimidation and two misdemeanor counts of battery.
Booker, a member of the Monroe County Human Rights Commission, posted his account of the July 4 incident along with video to his Facebook account, writing, “I don’t want to recount this, but I was almost the victim of an attempted lynching.” He went on: “On July 4th evening others and me were victims of what I would describe as a hate crime. I was attacked by five white men with Confederate flags who literally threatened to lynch me in front of numerous witnesses.”
Booker said he and his friends were visiting a public beach on Lake Monroe outside Bloomington to join a gathering when a group of white men said they were on private property and began following them. Some of the men became belligerent, he said. When he approached “sober seeming group members” to “see if we could smooth things over a bit,” the confrontation escalated. Video posted to social media shows a group of white men holding Booker to a tree as his friends plead with them to release him. In the video, one man shouts at the camera, “You happy about this, you nappy-headed bitch? You and your five white friends?” As Booker’s friends leave, one of the men follows, shouting, “Those Black boys want to start it all.”
Booker says during the attack there were shouts of “get a noose” and “white power,” although those are not heard on the video. Booker believes he’s alive because strangers stopped to help and film the altercation. “The reason why I’m here today is simply because these folks, they didn’t just stop and watch and film my execution,” Booker said in an interview with NPR’s Mary Louise Kelly. “They became involved. They became active participants. They put themselves in danger when they stepped forward for me.”
Last week, the FBI confirmed it was investigating the incident as a potential hate crime, and Indiana Gov. Eric Holcomb called it “beyond disturbing.” “The brief video clip that I viewed with my own two eyes was beyond disturbing and that’s why it’s very important that the DNR … complete their investigation sooner rather than later.” Bloomington
Mayor Greg Hamilton, who said he has known Booker personally for at least five years, said his city had work to do. “I don’t know what would have happened in the woods around Lake Monroe if there hadn’t been other individuals there and if there hadn’t been a video taken,” Hamilton told Yahoo News. “It’s incredibly important that we as a country, and then me and my community, that we make clear that has no place in our community, and we want to root it out.”
1 year ago ·
by HealthInsurance4Everyone ·
Comments Off on 4 Border Patrol Agents Fired, Dozens Suspended After Racist Facebook Posts
More than a year after launching an internal investigation into 138 employees for “inappropriate social media activity,” Customs and Border Protection — the parent agency of the Border Patrol — has removed four employees, suspended 38 without pay and disciplined an additional 27 with reprimands or counseling. Investigators from Customs and Border Protection‘s Office of Professional Responsibility determined that 63 of the cases — roughly half — were “unsubstantiated.” Six cases remain open, and the Homeland Security Department‘s inspector general is also investigating.
The office began looking into more than 60 current employees and eight former staff following reports of a secret Facebook group in which members used dehumanizing and derogatory language regarding Latina members of Congress and deceased migrants. The existence of the group, known as “I’m 10-15,” the code used by Border Patrol for migrants in custody, at one point had 9,500 members and was created in August 2016. The probe, which is not criminal, ultimately doubled the number of individuals under investigation, and included several additional private social media groups.
Most of the cases deemed unsubstantiated involved personnel who reported themselves or others as part of the groups and provided information to investigators, but whose history showed they’d never posted or been active in them. At the start of the investigation, Matthew Klein, assistant commissioner of the agency’s Office of Professional Responsibility, emphasized that the privacy of the social media groups does not protect current or former employees from disciplinary action.
Members of the secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents joked about the deaths of migrants and discussed throwing burritos at Latino members of Congress visiting a detention facility while referring to them as scum buckets. In one post, a photoshopped image depicted Congressmember Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez being sexually assaulted by President Trump. In another thread, members of the group made fun of a video of an immigrant man trying to carry a child through a raging river in a plastic bag. One group member commented, “At least it’s already in a trash bag.”
In one exchange, group members responded with indifference and wisecracks to the post of a news story about a 16-year-old Guatemalan migrant who died in May while in custody at a Border Patrol station in Weslaco, Texas. One member posted a GIF of Elmo with the quote, “Oh well.” Another responded with an image and the words “If he dies, he dies.”
Rep. Veronica Escobar, who said on Twitter she was “one of the Latina members of Congress targeted by the hateful attacks,” but she had not received information about the investigation from Customs and Border Protection. Rep. Joaquín Castro, the head of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus, reviewed the Facebook discussions and was incensed. “It confirms some of the worst criticisms of Customs and Border Protection,” said Castro. “These are clearly agents who are desensitized to the point of being dangerous to migrants and their co-workers.” He added that the agents who made the vulgar comments “don’t deserve to wear any uniform representing the United States of America.”