Suzanne Clark, Stacey Abrams Nominated For Nobel Peace Prize, Minneapolis Police Department Post George Floyd, Puerto Rico’s Gender-Based Violence, & AOC Connects Capitol Riot and Sexual Assault
Suzanne Clark Named CEO of US Chamber of Commerce
By Julia Carroll
Suzanne Clark, the former president of the U.S Chamber of Commerce, will become the chamber’s Chief Executive Officer, one of the most powerful jobs in business. Clark has been president since June of 2019, and her fellow colleagues, including Chairman Chamber Board Chairman Christopher Lofgren, believes she has worked hard and deserves the position. Longfren said in a statement, “Suzanne Clark’s extensive experience through ever-increasing responsibilities during her more than 16 years at the Chamber, combined with her ambitious vision and ongoing work to strengthen the U.S. Chamber of Commerce makes her the resounding choice to lead the organization into the future.”
Her path to this position started with her place as the Chamber’s senior executive vice president, to executive vice president and chief operating officer. Longfren also included that, “Clark has the deep management experience within the leadership of the U.S. Chamber, and a timely and powerful vision for how the organization can partner with American business to expand the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s global impact and influence for years to come.”
Clark has worked to modernize and strengthen the advocacy and influence of the chamber throughout her many years there. Her success in maintaining advocacy for business during the economic turndown in the Covid-19 pandemic has been admirable. She is thought to bring her strength and power into her years as chief executive officer.
“We believe in the power of American businesses to improve lives, innovate solutions, and change the world, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce exists to help them do it. We fight for the job creators because we know what a job means to a family, to a community, and to the overall economy.” – Suzanne Clark
Stacey Abrams Has Been Nominated For A Nobel Peace Prize
By Jordyn Roskind
Stacey Abrams is a Democrat from Georgia who is being honored for her work in voting rights activism. Abrams was instrumental in turning Georgia blue during 2020’s presidential election. Since, she has been nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Stacy Abrams ran for governor of Georgia in 2018, and lost by less than two percentage points. After her loss, she launched a voter education campaign called Fair Fight Action. In addition, Abrams launched a national network in twenty states to ensure democracy in the United States. In an interview in September 2020, Abrams stated, “their only way to continue their dominance is to keep voter suppression in place. But they’ve also eroded our democracy because the thing is, you may target people of color, you may target young people, but when you break the machinery of democracy, you break it for everyone.” Abrams stands strongly for equality and enhances democracy in the United States. Her work to improve democracy through nonviolent change has led to her nomination for a Nobel Peace Prize.
Abrams believes that failure can turn into accomplishment, and her narrative definitely reflects this mantra.
A Peek Inside the Minneapolis Police Department – Following the Death of George Floyd
By Nicole Herman
Subsequent to the murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police officers in May of 2020, it was found to be true that the the Minneapolis department had a long past of police misconduct and racism and sexism within its structure.
The documentary “Women In Blue” aired in early February and gives viewers insight into the police force, how the department works, and community involvement. Filmed from 2017 – last year, the documentary focuses on the first woman chief, Janeé Harteau, and four female officers with hopes to redefine what it means to protect and serve.
Due to a high-profile shooting, Chief Harteau resigns due to offer-involvement and the new male chief seems to only select men as top officers.
The film aims to highlight the constraints of police reform and changes being made while asking and answering questions that concern more than just the city of Minneapolis, if gender equality, increased women, and more Black women will result in better safety.
Puerto Rico: State of Emergency Over Gender-Based Violence
By Khushi Bhatt
In January 2021 the governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, declared a state of emergency over gender violence on the island. Activists took to the streets with demands for reform after mass killings targeting women and transgender citizens occured on the island. The recent wave of sexism was prompted by “systematic machismo, inequity, discrimination, lack of education, lack of guidance and above all lack of action,” according to Governor Pierluisi. He acknowledges that “gender violence is a social evil, based on ignorance and attitudes that cannot have space or tolerance in the Puerto Rico that we aspire to be” and went on to declare a state of emergency regarding the influx of gender-based terrorism. This state of the emergency will be in effect through June 30, 2022.
The order was celebrated by the activists who have been working relentlessly to make their home safer for everyone, no matter their gender identity or sexual orientation. The crimes have significantly worsened over dramatic events like the late Hurricane Maria and current COVID-19 Pandemic. CNN reports that “At least 60 direct and indirect femicides were reported in Puerto Rico in 2020. That includes six trans femicides and 26 cases still under investigation or lacking information. Puerto Rico’s police also reported that at least 5,517 women were victims of domestic violence last year.”
Elba Pope Sues after 9-Year Old Daughter is Pepper-Sprayed by Rochester Police
By Blake Goodman
On January 29th, A 9-year old black girl from Rochester was pepper sprayed and restrained by law enforcement officials. The two police officers on site were responding to a call where the nine-year old was claimed to be suicidal and threatening to kill her mom as well; the Rochester police officers categorized this as a “family trouble report.” After arriving at the young girls home, body camera footage shows police officers attempting to restrain her and move her into the back of the police vehicle (NBC News: https://www.nbcnews.com/video/bodycam-footage-shows-9-year-old-rochester-girl-being-pepper-sprayed-100937797791
Police claim she resisted while calling for her father, which is why they were ultimately forced to pepper spray the nine-year old.
Although her mother, Elba Pope, had initially called for help, she stated that she requested trained mental health personnel, considering Rochester just released a Person in Crisis team to handle tricky mental health situations like this one. Her request was denied. Not only was Pope unaware of police officers being brought to her house, but she was equally caught off guard when the officers pepper sprayed her nine-year old. Her daughter was soon rushed to Rochester General Hospital for treatment, and was released soon after.
Once the media got hold of the body camera videos, Rochester Police and the Rochester Mayor began to speak up. Rochester Police Chief Cynthia Herriott-Sullivan said, “I’m not going to stand here and tell you that for a nine-year-old to have to be pepper-sprayed is OK. It’s not. I don’t see that as who we are as a department, and we’re going to do the work we have to do to ensure that these kinds of things don’t happen.” However, Rochester Police continued to back their officers, and say that they were faced with a tough situation. On the other hand, Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren takes full responsibility and realizes how terrible this incident was for such a young girl.
Elba Pope and her daughter are black, which adds even more gravity to the situation, considering the overwhelming amount of police brutality towards people of color in America. Although police claim they were unable to identify the girl’s race, this case is extremely similar to the death of Daniel Prude over the summer. Prude, an African American man, was suffocated by Rochester Police while he was going through a mental health episode. “These incidents … highlight the urgency of the need to press forward regarding reimagining and reinventing the police and public safety,” says Rev. Lewis Stewart, president of the United Chrsttian Leadership Ministry of Western New York, in an NPR News conference Monday morning.
Elba Pope is currently suing the city for how they handled the situation. Pope fears her daughter will suffer even further emotional trauma from this encounter with the Rochester Police, who have a pervasive problem that they must receive punishment for. Situations like these need to be put to a halt, considering people who are suffering from mental disorders are being harmed and oppressed for their uncontrollable episodes.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez Connects Traumas: Capitol Riot and Sexual Assault
By Khushi Bhatt
Following the storming of the US Capitol on January 6th, many people struggled to fathom this siege on democracy. After the attack by Trump supporters, many members of Congress were tight lipped, including Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (better known as AOC). She ensured the public she was okay on Twitter stating, “Was barricaded in for several hours. I’ll tell y’all about it later.” A little over a week later Rep. Cortez went on Instagram live to explain her very close encounter, in which she felt like she was going to die. “I just start to hear these yells of ‘Where is she? Where is she?'” she explained. “This was the moment where I thought everything was over…I thought I was going to die.” She continued, with tears in her eyes, “I felt that if this was the journey my life was taking, that I felt that things were going to be OK, and that I had fulfilled my purpose.”
The morning after sharing this, AOC made public that she is a survivor of sexual assault. Her horrifying experience during the storming of the capitol evoked similar feelings of trauma surrounding the two events. She went on to explain, “When we go through trauma, trauma compounds on each other, and so whether you had a neglectful parent or whether you had someone who was verbally abusive to you, whether you are a survivor of abuse, whether you experienced any sort of trauma in your life, small to large, these episodes can compound on one another.”
AOC’s bravery in sharing her story allows her supporters to connect and gain deeper insight into her psychological processes following the event. She concluded her livestream by saying “my story is not the only story, nor is it the central story.” AOC used her past, in connection with her recent terror, to call out the violent oppressors at the capitol. She explained, “It’s one of many stories of what these people did in creating this environment. These folks who are just trying to tell us to move on are…using the same tactics of every other abuser who just tells you to move on.”
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Ismail Family Receives Backlash after Daughter Gululai Escapes Pakistan
By Chloe Robinson
Pakistani human right defender, Gulalai Ismail, was victorious in her attempt to escape a huge dragnet and found safety in the United States in 2019. The authorities who were persecuting her were humiliated and have now taken action to get revenge.
Pakistan has now targeted Ismail’s mother and father, accusing them both of terrorism. They even threw Ismail’s father, Mohammed Ismail, in jail following his battle with COVID-19.
February’s bail hearing concluded with Mohammed Ismail being handcuffed and charged with what human rights defenders are calling bogus claims, including sedition and terrorism. Human rights defenders note that these charges are most likely a result of the state’s revenge plot after their security programs were humiliated.
The Pakistani government’s hunt for Gulalai Ismail back in 2019 consisted of undercover agents, torture of family and friends for information, and the exposure of her face at airports and police stations, according to family and supporters.
However, Gulalai Ismail was too smart for the Pakistani government’s attempts, outwitting them by avoiding computers and phones, never showing her face, and moving nomadically across the country.
After living in New York where she applied for political asylum, Ms. Ismail spoke up. She called the charges towards her and her parents “malicious and false.” Ismali continued that “this is about setting a precedent.”
“If a woman raises her voice, the whole family will face consequences,” Ms. Ismail said by phone from Brooklyn in early February.
Ms. Ismail is known for acknowledging the abuse and rape of women and girls in Pakistan, more specifically gang rapes commited by soldiers. As part of the Pakistani Protection Movement, Ismail became the target of a massive crackdown by security forces.
According to the New York Times, “Officials accused Ms. Ismail and her father of funneling weapons to terrorists who carried out a 2013 suicide attack on a Sunday service on a church that killed at least 73 worshipers, and providing the vehicle used in a 2015 attack on a Shiite mosque that killed more than 20 people.”
Pakistan’s current political state leaves little room for dissent, thus human rights activists like Gulalai Ismali are hounded by government officials, yet terrorists remain free and powerful.
Afrasiab Khattak, a veteran politician and a former member of Parliament, told the New York Times that, “In Pakistan, banned terrorist outfits are in fact not banned and roam freely, but people who always raised voices against banned outfits for their barbarism have been punished in baseless cases.”
Ms. Ismail attributes her strong sense of right and wrong to her father, someone who was previously in and out of jail for speaking out against the Taliban. The views of the Ismail family have consistently perturbed Pakistani authorities and gotten them into trouble with the government.
Ms. Ismail questions if the ramifications of her escape outweigh its goodness, contemplating, “was it all worth it? Should I have put my family in such a situation?”
Eventually, Ismail concluded that “[she] couldn’t have chosen any other life. We can’t stay silent.”