Stephon Clark shooting brings attention to police gun violence once again

Kennedi Jackson | Staff Writer

2nd-amendment-colt-props-rightside_FPO.jpg
The Associated Press

 

In the aftermath of the most recent shootings, there has been widespread anger over gun violence, inspiring marches and protests all over the country. Now, there has been yet another unarmed shooting of a black man. Stephon Clark, a 22-year old black man living in Sacramento, CA, was shot on Sunday, March 18 by the Sacramento police.

On the evening in question, police responded to a 911 call saying that there was a man in a black hoodie who had busted a truck’s windows and was now making his way through a neighborhood’s backyards. Officers arrived on scene and the supposed perpetrator was spotted by the sheriff’s helicopter. The sheriff told police that the man was holding a toolbar and was currently breaking into another home.

The pursuit was recorded by the officers’ body cameras as they confronted the suspect in a backyard. As officers are yelling to see the suspect’s hands, one officer yelled “Gun!” Gunfire erupts.

In the end, Stephon Clark was shot multiple times. And the “gun” he was holding? It turned out to be a cellphone. Due to the outrage felt in the city of Sacramento, mass protests have been held and are expected to continue. But this anger is not only felt by California citizens; Hampton students and staff are appalled by the event as well.

Ahmaad Edmund, a first-year Political Science major, says that he was hurt when he heard about the shooting. “Think about his family…his grandparents have lost a grandchild, his sons are without a father…it’s disheartening.”

Reforming gun laws has been an issue on many people’s minds, and with Clark’s shooting it is needed more than ever. Many wonder since this has happened, what can be done to stop the gun violence against innocent people. “We need to examine this thoroughly, and have the mindset of we’re not letting up until we see changes”, says Edmund. “Until we go a year without violence, or police brutality…until that time comes we have work to do.”

Dr. Zina McGee, a sociology professor who researches gun violence, shares a similar view on the next steps America should take regarding gun violence.

“We as a society need to pay closer attention to the repercussions of having so many young people exposed to guns…We must not continue to ignore many warning signs that are often presented to us as these young people go through our schools and are not able to adequately perform because of what they’ve been exposed to.”

Stephon Clark’s funeral was held Thursday, March 29. Hundreds of people attended, paying their respects to his family before heading downtown afterwards to continue their protests. Following this tragic event, it can only be wondered when the police shootings of unarmed black men will stop, and when will law enforcement say enough is enough.

Is the issue stricter gun control laws or mental health?

Kennedi Jackson | Staff Writer

Over the past months, there have been various mass shootings in the U.S. The country was outraged following the shooting in Las Vegas, when 58 people were murdered. Most recently, on Sunday November 5, a man opened fire at First Baptist Church in Sutherland Springs, Texas, killing 27. Democrats are now calling for stricter gun control laws in result of the massacres, in which loose gun regulations played a part.

According to CNN reporters, the Texas church shooter, Devin Patrick Kelley had a history of domestic violence, escaped from a mental hospital, and attempted to sneak guns onto an Air Force Base. Although mental health is a large issue concerning national security, the Democratic party is concerned that there are not enough regulations in place to prevent mental health from having a role in gun violence period.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump signed a bill that essentially made it easier for people to purchase firearms, including individuals with histories of mental illness. However, many democrats argue that President Trump’s actions have been hypocritical, with him making a statement which blamed the Texas shooting on mental health rather than a problem with gun laws.

Now, Democrats are attempting to take control of the situation by demanding stricter gun control laws. Statistics show that while around 80% of democrats are in favor of harsher regulations, only about 50% of republicans support it.

Along with democrats, some Hampton University students believe that stricter gun control laws should be put in place. Sophomore Denzel Little feels that there should be more precautions taken before someone is allowed to obtain a firearm.

“Background checks need to be extensive and required. There should either be limitations or no tolerance for someone with a mental health and a violent past to be able to purchase a gun. There should even be a program that people have to take before they can carry a weapon.”

Jailah Long, a freshman aviation major from Cincinnati believes gun control is something too serious to be taken so lightly by our politicians.

“Trump is blaming this on a disease, a condition people cannot sometimes control. Gun control is needed because it has continued to take innocent lives that should still be here today.”

Democrats continue to push for legislation such as the Background Completion Act and Obama’s Gun-check rule, hoping that change can be made to prevent future tragedies at the hands of wrongful gun violence.

Virginian-Pilot cuts nearly 10 percent of staff

Kennedi Jackson | Staff Writer

LocalPic2
Courtesy of Kennedi Jackson

Nearly 150 years after the Virginian-Pilot was founded in 1865, the largest Virginia newspaper in Virginia is cutting close to 10 percent of its staff.

The parent company, Pilot Media, has offered to pay buyouts to long-term employees who have served at least 25 years with the paper, however they have also declared that if there are not enough volunteers, they will proceed with forced layoffs.

Cashara Quinn, a first-year journalism major and writer for HerCampus, has a strong opinion on the changes being made.

“I think it’s unfair that people are losing their jobs when they’ve been loyal to the company for a long time and just want to provide for their families,” Quinn said.

The Pilot is adapting to the changing media world and is hoping to convert from print to digital.

Pilot Media sees digital media as a more profitable venue, and the faster the digital platform grows, the slower print revenue comes in.

Despite this reasoning, Hampton University students wish that the shift wasn’t made so soon.

“The Pilot should stick with the traditional print newspaper,” Quinn said. “A lot of older people rely on newspapers and haven’t moved digitally yet. Having been around a long time, there are still many people who want to pick up a newspaper and read it rather than going online.”

Another concern with the newspaper reducing staff is that the publication will lose some of staff members’ creative input.

The newspaper is popular for its designs and production, but according to Forbes, even this signature outlet is being threatened.

By releasing some of the most expensive employees, the company is also losing their eldest and most experienced ones as well.

According to Pilot Media, the company wants to decrease the staff of 543 by slightly less than 10 percent.

Although the change is disappointing to some, Kennedy Peace, a strategic communications major from Pennsylvania, says she understands why it has to be done.

“It makes sense because a lot of things today are digital. If they realize what they are doing right now isn’t working and they want to take steps to improve their business, then that’s what they need to do,” Peace said.

“They’re put in a position where they have to figure out what step to take next, and unfortunately, making the shift from print to digital may be it.”

Rising Epidemic of Opioid Addicted Babies

Kennedi Jackson | Staff Writer

 

The number of opium-addicted babies continues to rise, with the rate of children being born into addiction quadrupling over the past 15 years. Babies with desperate, high-pitched wails and shaking bodies reside in hospitals all over the U.S.

Neonatal Abstinence Syndrome is the condition of symptoms babies go through when they are exposed to drugs in the womb. When a birthing mother has suffered from abuse of drugs and has a baby, the newborn’s nervous system can trigger symptoms of withdrawal. Up to 94 percent of babies exposed to opioids end up experiencing withdrawal.

Freshman Skylar Buck spends a lot of time around young children, and the thought of this happening across the nation is unsettling to her.

“Children are meant to be cared for and loved. If a parent can’t control themselves then they shouldn’t risk bringing a baby into the world who will only suffer because of them.”

The Center for Disease Control estimates that around six out of 1,000 babies are born with neonatal abstinence syndrome. The increasing amount of children being affected is also damaging to the pocket. Treating one child can cost up to $60,000.

Lawsuits against opioid manufactures, drug dealers, and even pain clinics are one of the steps being taken to try and limit the amount of prescription opioids being placed on the market. Large manufacturers have been charged with fines and paid settlements over the years to avoid scandal with releasing of these drugs, but no one is willing to take responsibility for the ongoing crisis.

According to National Geographic research, there are things being done to more effectively to treat the addiction. Researchers are straying away from the traditional hospital and medication approach and attempting to create a strong bond between mothers and the babies.

Sophomore nursing major Key agrees with researchers and said “Medication may not always be the best remedy, sometimes all a baby needs is proper attention.” According to National Geographic, 86 percent of babies with the syndrome used to rely on medication, whereas now only about 30 percent are. Forming this bond has been proven to combat some of the negative effects that can be controlled, such as behavioral issues. Children with NAS are considered more likely to end up in the foster care system, and although there is not clear research done on the effects of this disease on the brain, there is still the possibilities of cognitive and behavioral problems. “There’s still a lot of work to be done”, says Key, “but hopefully something can be done to help prevent crises like this in the future.”