Youth in Action, March-April 2015

March 11, 2015

From the March-April 2015 issue of News & Letters

by Natalia Spiegel

A 16-year-old Transgender Connecticut girl, Jane Doe, spent nearly two months in an adult correctional facility without being charged with a crime. In May 2014 she was placed in a secure facility for delinquent boys but held in a separate room. Then she was transferred to a psychiatric institution, where in July she tried to escape. Doe has been shuffled between Connecticut facilities and spent time in an East Lyme mental health unit where she was put in solitary confinement. The Justice for Jane campaign wrote on facebook: “From a very young age, Jane was placed by DCF in extremely traumatizing conditions [in foster care], where she was subject to rape, assault, trafficking, and drug exposure. Much of this abuse happened at the hands of DCF employees.” Justice for Jane is demanding her release.

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The cell phone video that went viral of the brutal beating of Halil, an 11-year-old boy, by a Burger King manager in Istanbul on Jan. 21 for taking leftover French fries, highlighted the plight of Syrian refugee children in Turkey. Deaths of Kurdish—and now Syrian—children have been regular news items for decades. Since Dec. 15, four children have been killed by the police in just one small town. The video of the police shooting 12-year-old Nihat Kazanhan for throwing stones was publicly released and a police officer arrested. Children also suffer violence in Turkey’s notorious Aliaga Sakran Juvenile Correction Facility.

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On Feb. 2, students at Howard University Middle School of Mathematics and Science in Washington, D.C., a charter school, walked out of classes in protest over the recent firings of instructors for teaching African-American history. Parents accused Principal Angelicque Blackmon of terminating three social studies teachers. Parents noted that the school bears the name of an historically Black university and the school’s student body is 90% African American. The principal and the school have yet to respond to the allegations.

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In February University of California Student Association called on University of California Regents to not only divest from pro-Israeli corporations, but to divest from all countries with a documented history of human rights violations. High on the list was the U.S. government, which the students cited for a range of abuses including drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, high rates of incarceration, disproportionate targeting of racial minorities by police forces, the detention and deportation of undocumented immigrants, and its activities in “directly supporting and propping up numerous dictatorships around the world with weapons sales and foreign aid.”

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