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How can we prevent the next Philando Castile? Start by integrating our schools

The first time I saw my students ball their fists and lunge at each other, I hurled my body across the room, smashing the buzzer on the wall for security something I would do many times during my first year of teaching 10th grade in post-Katrina New Orleans.

Stop it this second, both of you! I screamed as they spat insults at each other. My students, 95% of whom were black while I am white, looked at me blankly for a second, then burst out laughing. Ms. Rosenblum, we were just playing! they wailed, eyes still watering as they took their seats, best friends once more. In the hall the security guard stared at me, eyebrows raised. Sorry, I mouthed. I thought they were fighting.

In the days since since Jeronimo Yanez walked free, I can t stop thinking about how I would have reacted had I been in his shoes and encountered a black man with a gun. With every particle of my being, I hope differently. But realistically, I frequently misread my students behavior when I was a teacher, just like Castile[1] s girlfriend, Diamond Reynolds, alleges Yanez, who is Latino, misread Castile s. The way my students ribbed each other, to my ears, sounded like bullying. Flirting, to my eyes, looked like harassment. I grew up in a lily white part of West Virginia, and now that I found myself teaching black teens in the Big Easy, I regularly perceived much of their culturally normal, innocent behavior as dangerous and frightening. It took years of watching how my black colleagues responded to, and diffused, those same behaviors to realize that my students weren t the ones out of line I was.

How can we ever learn to perceive each other correctly if we never have the opportunity to care about, let alone know, one another?

Research[2] confirms what black people already know: White people tend to view blacks faces as more threatening than white ones. We also know from first-person shooter experiments in the same study that this incorrect perception can make them more likely to respond with force. I was armed with detention slips instead of a gun. The instances when I exercised that power poorly are not excusable, and are just one reason I believe we need to hire more black teachers[3]. But like Yanez had the law on his side, I had the school on mine. I could justify my discipline by calling the behavior disruptive, just like Yanez justified his use of force by saying he feared for his life.

The problem with these justifications is that they are both subjectively defined, and based on the cultural norms we grow up in. And increasingly, too many of us live under one cultural code, in isolation. In Saint Paul, Minnesota, where Yanez and Castile grew up, neighborhoods are growing dramatically more segregated[4] in a pattern that reflects[5] the nation s. For reasons related to segregation, the Huffington Post ranked the Saint Paul-Minneapolis-Bloomington metropolis as the third worst[6] city in the country for blacks in terms of poverty and unemployment. While the high school that Castile attended, Saint Paul Central[7], is relatively diverse with a student population that is roughly one-third black (like Castile), one-third white and one-third Asian, the high school that Yanez attended, South Saint Paul[8], is markedly less so: just 5% of students are black, 66% are white, and 22% are Latino, like Yanez. Does segregation alone explain why a group of South Saint Paul students told racist jokes[9] days after President Trump was elected? Does it explain the noose[10] a South Saint Paul Trump supporter hung in his yard? Does it explain why Jeronimo Castile shot Philando Castile?

Perhaps not alone. But the fact that Castile s alma matter has virtually no Latino students, and Yanez s has very few black students, should give us pause. How can we ever learn to perceive each other correctly if we never have the opportunity to care about, let alone know, one another? Until enough children from integrated communities grow up to be film directors and network CEOs, racial stereotypes will continue to serve as surrogates for personal knowledge. Fear will continue to trickle in via every screen we invent and burrow in our psyches like a tumor, ready to activate at the first shot of adrenaline. It will take massive change to bring justice to victims like Castile. Better training, clearer laws, and weaker opposition to such things from police unions are all overdue and essential. But in the spasm of solutions that will follow this too-familiar pattern of horror and prescription, let us not forget integration s role to play.

Integration was not popular during the sixties and seventies, and it is unlikely to be popular now. The alternative, however, is that mothers will continue to bury their sons, while my former students grow up believing the Declaration of Independence is just another piece of funny paper.

Cassady Rosenblum is an intern in The Times Opinion section.

@cassadyariel[12]

Follow the Opinion section on Twitter @latimesopinion or Facebook[13][14]

References

  1. ^ Philando Castile (www.latimes.com)
  2. ^ Research (www.latimes.com)
  3. ^ I believe we need to hire more black teachers (oaklandnorth.net)
  4. ^ dramatically more segregated (www.twincities.com)
  5. ^ reflects (www.latimes.com)
  6. ^ third worst (www.huffingtonpost.com)
  7. ^ Saint Paul Central (www.schooldigger.com)
  8. ^ South Saint Paul (www.schooldigger.com)
  9. ^ racist jokes (www.twincities.com)
  10. ^ the noose (www.fox9.com)
  11. ^

Tropical Storm Cindy comes ashore in southwest Louisiana

Gulf Coast states were in for a third day of rough weather as Tropical Storm Cindy sloshed ashore early Thursday in southwestern Louisiana. Already blamed for one death in Alabama, Cindy was expected to keep churning seas and spin off bands of severe weather from eastern Texas to northwestern Florida. The storm’s maximum sustained winds had decreased to near 40 mph (64 kph) Thursday morning with additional weakening expected, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said.

A boy on an Alabama beach was struck and killed Wednesday by a log washed ashore by the storm. Baldwin County Sheriff’s Capt. Stephen Arthur said witnesses reported the 10-year-old boy from Missouri was standing outside a condominium in Fort Morgan when the log, carried in by a large wave, struck him. Arthur said the youth was vacationing with his family from the St. Louis area and that relatives and emergency workers tried to revive him. He wasn’t immediately identified. It was the first known fatality from Cindy. Otherwise, the storm was blamed for widespread coastal highway flooding, rough seas and scattered reports of power outages and building damage caused by high winds. There were numerous reports of waterspouts and short-lived tornadoes spawned by the storm. National Weather Service forecasters estimated the storm had dumped anywhere from 2 to 10 inches (50 to 250 millimeters) of rain on various spots along the Gulf Coast from southern Louisiana to the Florida panhandle as of Wednesday. And more rain was on the way.

Alek Krautmann of the National Weather Service in Slidell, Louisiana, said Thursday’s pattern would likely be much like Wednesday’s: Bands of intermittent, sometimes heavy rain spinning onto the coast. In Gulfport, Mississippi, Kathleen Bertucci said heavy rainfall Wednesday sent about 10 inches of water into her business, Top Shop, which sells and installs granite countertops.

“It’s pretty disgusting, but I don’t have flood insurance because they took me out of the flood zone,” said Bertucci, whose store is near a bayou. “We’re just trying to clean everything up and hope it doesn’t happen again.”

In nearby Biloxi, a waterspout moved ashore Wednesday morning. Harrison County Emergency Management Director Rupert Lacy said there were no injuries but fences, trees and power lines were damaged. Storms also downed trees in the Florida Panhandle. Fort Walton Beach spokeswoman Jo Soria said fallen trees hit houses and cars in what she called “pockets of wind damage” in two or three residential neighborhoods.

The White House said President Donald Trump was briefed on the storm Wednesday by Homeland Security Adviser Tom Bossert. Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards declared a state of emergency, like his Alabama counterpart a day earlier. He was among authorities stressing that the storm’s danger wasn’t limited to the coast. In Knoxville, Tennessee, the power-generating Tennessee Valley Authority, said it was drawing down water levels on nine lakes it controls along the Tennessee River and its tributaries in Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky, anticipating heavy runoff from Cindy’s rains once the storm moves inland. The TVA manages 49 dams to regulate water, provide power and help control downstream flooding.

In Alabama, streets were flooded and beaches were closed on the barrier island of Dauphin Island. Some roads were covered with water in the seafood village of Bayou La Batre, but Becca Caldemeyer still managed to get to her bait shop open at the city dock. If only there were more customers, she said.

“It’s pretty quiet,” Caldemeyer said by phone from Rough Water Bait and Tackle. “Nobody can cast a shrimp out in this kind of wind.”

Some threats could be lurking in the flood waters, Alabama state officials warned: Floating colonies of fire ants could form in the gushing surge of water, the Alabama Cooperative Extension System said in a statement. The floating colonies of insects known as red imported fire ants may look like ribbons, streamers or a large ball of ants floating on the water, entomologists said.

Off the coast of Texas, rough seas also led to the rescue of a shrimp trawler in danger of sinking. The U.S. Coast Guard said crew of the trawler Footprint was about 80 miles (130 kilometers) southeast of Galveston when the crew radioed that the vessel was taking on water faster than onboard pumps could clear it. A helicopter crew lowered and extra pump that enabled the shrimp boat crew to clear enough water to stay afloat. A Coast Guard cutter escorted the vessel to Freeport, Texas.

UPDATE: Montrealer Amor Ftouhi charged in Michigan airport stabbing

A Montreal man entered the Bishop International Airport in Flint, Michigan Wednesday morning, yelled Allahu akbar! and stabbed a security officer in the neck, according to U.S. federal prosecutors. Amor Ftouhi, 49, was arrested shortly after the incident and charged with committing violence at an airport. Yesterday afternoon and evening, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, assisted by the Montreal police, searched Ftouhi s apartment on B lair St. in Montreal s St-Michel district. Montreal police spokesman Benoit Boiselle said the search was being conducted at the request of the FBI, and added that the Montreal police anti-terrorism squad was also involved.

UPDATE: Montrealer Amor Ftouhi Charged In Michigan Airport Stabbing

The B lair St. building where a major police investigation is underway for terrorist activities on Wednesday June 21, 2017. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

Related

According to his Facebook page, Ftouhi was born in Tunis, Tunisia, where he studied at the faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences of Tunis. The page also says he graduated from Coll ge O Sullivan, a private, bilingual college on de la Montagne St. in Montreal. Industrielle Alliance, an insurance company headquartered in Quebec City with offices on McGill College Ave., is listed as one of Ftouhi s past employers. Luciano Piazza, the owner of the 11-unit building, said Ftouhi has been renting an apartment from him for six years, and lived there with his wife and children. Piazzi, who said he hadn t heard about the airport stabbing, called Ftouhi a very good guy, and added that neither he nor any of the building s residents ever had any trouble with him.

UPDATE: Montrealer Amor Ftouhi Charged In Michigan Airport Stabbing

U.S. law enforcement authorities say a man allegedly involved in the stabbing of a police officer at a Michigan airport is a Canadian resident. They have identified the suspect as 49-year-old Amor Ftouhi. Facebook

Other neighbourhood residents contacted by the Montreal Gazette said they knew nothing about Ftouhi or his life, with many saying they had never even seen him before. One woman who did recognize Ftouhi said she has never spoken to him because he looked unsociable. The RCMP refused to divulge any more information on the investigation Wednesday night. Their search caused quite a stir in the neighbourhood, with groups of people who live blocks away coming over to see what the commotion was all about. Several drivers stopped in front of the building where Ftouhi lives to ask what was going on.

Earlier Wednesday, FBI special agent in charge David Gelios told a news conference outside the Bishop airport that the stabbing took place around 9:45 a.m. in Flint, about 80 kilometres northwest of Detroit. Ftouhi appeared in federal court and heard the charge against him late Wednesday. He will get a court-appointed attorney. U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions says the stabbing is being investigated as an act of terrorism. Sessions said in a statement that he is proud of the swift response by authorities from both nations, and added it will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.

Court spokesman David Ashenfelter says Ftouhi will remain in custody until a bond hearing next Wednesday.

UPDATE: Montrealer Amor Ftouhi Charged In Michigan Airport Stabbing

Police officers gather at a terminal at Bishop International Airport, Wednesday morning, in Flint, Mich. Officials evacuated the airport Wednesday, where a witness said he saw an officer bleeding from his neck and a knife nearby on the ground. Dominic Adams / CP

Ftouhi entered the United States legally in Lake Champlain, N.Y., on June 16 and made his way to Flint on Wednesday morning, Gelios said.

We do know Mr. Ftouhi entered the airport, he spent a little time on the first level, then he went upstairs he spent some time in the restaurant up there, he said.

Then he came out, he was carrying baggage. He went into a restroom. He spent a little time in the restroom. Dropped both bags and came out, pulled out a knife, yelled Allahu akbar, and stabbed Lt. Neville in the neck. Lt. Jeff Neville with the Bishop International Airport police underwent surgery and his condition has been upgraded from critical to stable, said Michigan State Police Lt. Mike Shaw. Authorities said they have no indication at this time that Ftouhi was involved in a wider plot, but the investigation is in its early stages.

The criminal complaint says Ftouhi stabbed Neville with a large knife and declared Allahu akbar, the Arabic phrase for God is great. The FBI, which is leading the investigation, said Ftouhi said something similar to you have killed people in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan, and we are all going to die.

UPDATE: Montrealer Amor Ftouhi Charged In Michigan Airport Stabbing

Montreal police officers stand near B lair St. apartment where a major police investigation is underway for terrorist activities on Wednesday June 21, 2017. Police are investigating the apartment of Amor Ftouhi. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

As we progress and take this matter to grand jury for indictment, other charges could be pending later on, Gelios said. It s an ongoing investigation, there are joint operations going on in Canada as we speak. We want to thank our Canadian partners who are helping us further investigate this attack. Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale called the incident a heinous and cowardly attack.

There is complete co-operation between the RCMP and other Canadian authorities and agencies with all of their counterparts in the United States and we will do everything we possibly can to assist in this matter, Goodale told reporters in Ottawa.

UPDATE: Montrealer Amor Ftouhi Charged In Michigan Airport Stabbing

SPVM police officer outside B lair St. apartment where a major police investigation is underway for terrorist activities following the arrest of a man identified as a Montrealer after a stabbing in Michigan. Pierre Obendrauf / Montreal Gazette

Meanwhile, witnesses in Flint described seeing the suspect led away in handcuffs by police, Neville bleeding and a knife on the ground.

The cop was on his hands and knees bleeding from his neck, Ken Brown told local media. Cherie Carpenter, who was awaiting a flight to Texas to see her new grandchild, told a local TV station she saw the attacker being led away in handcuffs. She described the man in custody as appearing blank, just totally blank.

Safia Ahmad of the Montreal Gazette contributed to this report.

Ftouhi Complaint[1] by Montreal Gazette[2] on Scribd

References

  1. ^ View Ftouhi Complaint on Scribd (www.scribd.com)
  2. ^ View Montreal Gazette’s profile on Scribd (www.scribd.com)