Tuesday, July 16, 2019

A Border Patrol Agent Reveals What It’s Really Like to Guard Migrant Children

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 4:00 PM

A mural on the wall inside Casa Padre, the largest government-contracted migrant youth shelter, located in Brownsville, Texas. - COURTESY OF THE ADMINISTRATION FOR CHILDREN AND FAMILIES AT THE US DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES
  • Courtesy of the Administration for Children and Families at the US Department of Health and Human Services
  • A mural on the wall inside Casa Padre, the largest government-contracted migrant youth shelter, located in Brownsville, Texas.

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The Border Patrol agent, a veteran with 13 years on the job, had been assigned to the agency’s detention center in McAllen, Texas, for close to a month when the team of court-appointed lawyers and doctors showed up one day at the end of June.

Taking in the squalor, the stench of unwashed bodies, and the poor health and vacant eyes of the hundreds of children held there, the group members appeared stunned.

Then, their outrage rolled through the facility like a thunderstorm. One lawyer emerged from a conference room clutching her cellphone to her ear, her voice trembling with urgency and frustration. “There’s a crisis down here,” the agent recalled her shouting.

At that moment, the agent, a father of a 2-year-old, realized that something in him had shifted during his weeks in the McAllen center. “I don’t know why she’s shouting,” he remembered thinking. “No one on the other end of the line cares. If they did, this wouldn’t be happening.”

As he turned away to return to his duties, the agent recalled feeling sorry for the lawyer. “I wanted to tell her the rest of us have given up.”

It’s rare to hear from Border Patrol agents, especially since the Trump administration has put them at the front lines of its sweeping immigration crackdown. Public access to them is typically controlled and choreographed. When approached off duty, agents say they risk their jobs if they speak about their work without permission. As a result, much about the country’s largest federal law enforcement agency — with some 20,000 agents policing the borders and ports — remains shrouded in secrecy, even from congressional oversight, making it nearly impossible to hold it accountable.

Disturbing glimpses of some agents have recently begun to fill the void, including some that were published recently after ProPublica obtained screenshots from a secret Facebook group for current and former Border Patrol agents that showed several agents and at least one supervisor had posted crude, racist and misogynistic comments about immigrants and Democratic members of Congress. The posts raised questions about whether the deplorable detention conditions on the border were out of the control of Customs and Border Protection, as the agency had asserted, or a reflection of its culture.

Other reports followed, including one from CNN that described agents attempting to humiliate a Honduran immigrant by trying to force him to be photographed holding a sign that read in Spanish, “I like men.” The Intercept published more degrading posts from the secret Facebook group, and it reported that it appeared that Border Patrol Chief Carla Provost had once been a member. Provost has not commented.

But there was some nuance. An account of life inside a Border Patrol detention facility outside El Paso, Texas, by The New York Times and The El Paso Times, revealed that two agents there had expressed concerns about the conditions to their supervisors.

The agent who spent June in McAllen doesn’t see his reality in any of those depictions. He’s in his late 30s and is a husband and father who served overseas in the military before joining the Border Patrol. He asked not to be identified because he worried that his candor could cost him his job and thrust him and his family into the middle of the angry public debate over the Trump administration’s border policies.

His comments come at a particularly fraught moment, as politicians on the left compare the Border Patrol’s detention facilities to “concentration camps” and senior Trump administration officials, including most recently Vice President Mike Pence, dismiss descriptions of the inhumane conditions as “unsubstantiated.”

When asked about Pence’s comments, the agent said the damning descriptions of the facilities are “more substantiated than not.” And, while he didn’t embrace the term concentration camp, he didn’t dispute it either. He searched out loud for a term that might be more accurate. Gulag felt too strong. Jail didn’t feel strong enough.

He came around to this: “It’s kind of like torture in the army. It starts out with just sleep deprivation, then the next guys come in and sleep deprivation is normal, so they ramp it up. Then the next guys ramp it up some more, and then the next guys, until you have full blown torture going on. That becomes the new normal.”

Referring back to the grim conditions inside the Border Patrol holding centers, he said: “Somewhere down the line people just accepted what’s going on as normal. That includes the people responsible for fixing the problems.”

He spoke at length in several interviews, making clear that the views and motivations he articulated were his alone. He said he’s not on Facebook, much less a member of any secret Border Patrol social media groups. He also said he did not witness any egregious behavior by his colleagues during his time in McAllen. But he said the agents who were permanently posted there had the shortest fuses, and he’d heard them launch into condescending harangues at the young migrants, blaming them for crossing the border illegally and denying their requests for extra food, water or information about when they’d be released.

Most of his colleagues, he said, fall into one of two camps. There are the “law-and-order types” who see the immigrants in their custody, as, first and foremost, criminals. Then, he said, there are those who are “just tired of all the chaos” of a broken immigration system and “see no end in sight.”

“The only possible end to this that I see is if there’s some change after the next election,” he said, referring to what might finally end the stalemate in Washington over how to reform the system. “Either this president will win again, and Congress will be forced to work with him. Or a new president will get elected and do things a different way.”

In addition to the interviews, the agent shared a journal entry about his time in McAllen, which he wrote in a tentative attempt to sort through what he described as the “roughest” experience of his career; a month that he said revealed a disturbing capacity for detachment.

“What happened to me in Texas is that I realized I had walled off my emotions so I could do my job without getting hurt,” he said. “I’d see kids crying because they want to see their dads, and I couldn’t console them because I had 500 to 600 other kids to watch over and make sure they’re not getting in trouble. All I could do was make sure they’re physically OK. I couldn’t let them see their fathers because that was against the rules.

“I might not like the rules,” he added. “I might think that what we’re doing wasn’t the correct way to hold children. But what was I going to do? Walk away? What difference would that make to anyone’s life but mine?”

When asked whether he simply stopped caring, he said: “Exactly, to a point that’s kind of dangerous. But once you do, you feel better.”

Part of that feeling, the agent said, comes from experience. He’s served Republican and Democratic administrations, each one with its own border crisis and wildly unpopular responses. Other people might find it hard to view his agency outside the context of their political leanings, but he said that he didn’t join because he feels strongly one way or the other. He has a criminal justice degree and was looking for a federal law enforcement job that would provide him financial security, without requiring him to go overseas.

What keeps him in now, even as his job has morphed into one he and his wife are uncomfortable talking about in public, is that he earns about $100,000 a year, including overtime and holiday pay. He has a top-of-the-line health insurance plan that, among other things, covered nearly the entire cost of his child’s birth. In a little more than a decade, when he turns 51, he’ll be eligible to retire with a full pension that probably won’t cover the cost of a house on the beach, he said, but will give him the freedom to “do just about anything else I want, and not have to worry.”

The agent, tall and fit with dirty blond hair, said he thinks of his time left in the Border Patrol like the home stretch of a marathon. He does his work with blinders on to everything but his family and the finish line. “I’m already starting to attend retirement seminars,” he said. “All I’m trying to do is get through the next decade.”

That was his mindset, he said, when he landed in McAllen. It was his first time on the border since he was a rookie. He’d spent most of his career posted in the eastern part of the United States, investigating smuggling organizations rather than intercepting undocumented immigrants. But as huge numbers of Central American migrants came to the Rio Grande Valley, he and hundreds of agents across the country were summoned to help.

In his journal entry, the agent described what he saw when he arrived at the Border Patrol detention center as a “scene from a zombie apocalypse movie.”

His colleagues, he said, wore surgical masks and rubber gloves because there was “sickness and filth everywhere.” And he said the facility “looked like a walled-off compound where the government had the last safe zone and was taking in refugees fleeing the deadly zombie virus.”

The scene that struck the agent the hardest that first day was the sight of dozens of children being held in cages — an image publicized this year to widespread condemnation. The children seemed about the same age as his 2-year-old son, but that’s where the similarities ended. “My kid would have been running laps around that entire building, nonstop,” the agent said. “But the boys my kid’s age, they were just there. They weren’t running or playing, even though they had been pent up all day.”

The agent said he suspected that the kids were lethargic because they hadn’t been given enough to eat. He said he wondered, “Why are things like this?” He said he didn’t look for answers because he didn’t expect he’d find any. “I decided not to dwell on it, and just do my job.”

He went on that way for weeks, seeing things without dwelling on them. His interactions with individual immigrants, he said, are a blur. He vaguely recalled a government staffer combing lice out of a little girl’s hair; 7- and 8-year-olds pacing in circles and sobbing inconsolably because they’d been separated from their parents; a teenage mother who’d swaddled her baby in a filthy sweatshirt that she’d borrowed from another detainee because she’d been forced to throw away the clothes she brought.

Only a few of those encounters are mentioned in the agent’s written account of his experiences in McAllen. Most of it reads like a chronicle of a mundane work trip. He got Memorial Day off. He bought groceries and stopped drinking soda. A colleague who was staying at the Residence Inn shared enough free gym passes to last the entire trip, and his waist size went from 33 inches to 32. He started listening to music again: “Not a specific style, language or rhythm rather music that expressed passion.” And he tried meditation.

The visit by the team of lawyers to the facility near the end of June seemed to shake up the agent. The team, led by a California attorney named Hope Frye, had arrived to interview children being detained in McAllen. The agent’s duties placed him close enough to them to observe their work.

Frye said that typically during such visits, the agents tend to blend into the background; silent and straight-faced, in their badges and drab green uniforms. They didn’t engage much with her because they were instructed not to. She said years of hearing immigrant children tell her how badly they’d been treated in detention had long made her worry about the agents’ humanity. “I’ll look at them and wonder sometimes, ‘What kind of a parent are you when you spend your entire day filled with hate and victimizing other people?’”

But to get her work done, Frye said, she tries to keep such thoughts to herself. At some point in McAllen, however, she let a comment slip to the agent about a young child who had been separated from his family. The agent, she said, blurted out that he knew of another woman who was separated from her family and raising a 2-year-old on her own.

Frye, 68, said she asked the agent if he was referring to his own family. Her question started a series of exchanges that didn’t diminish her suspicions about the Border Patrol, Frye said, but did change her thinking a bit about the agent.

“If what happened was a film, you’d see an older woman with many years of experience, her eyes lined from seeing these poor children, and a young man, with a young family, seeing this nightmare for the first time,” Frye said, recalling her encounter with the agent. “What I thought to myself was, ‘How sad is it that this young man who probably wants to be of service to his country is stuck doing this.’”

Referring to the agent’s initial outburst, she said, “I think he was trying to tell me, ‘Hey, I’m human too.’”

Katherine Hagan, a Spanish interpreter who worked alongside Frye, also interacted briefly with the agent, and, although he didn’t say it in so many words, she felt he was struggling to reckon with his role at the facility, as if, she said, “he had become so accustomed to seeing children behind wire cages that he had assimilated it as normal and necessary.”

At one moment, she said, she recalled him scrambling to find clothes for the baby girl wrapped in the sweatshirt. The baby was so dirty that Frye wiped away rings of black dirt from around her neck. But at another point the agent lectured Hagan about indulging the immigrant children, warning her not to let “the aliens” use the officers’ bathrooms.

“I’m trying to find the right words to describe his demeanor,” Hagan, a graduate of the Harvard Divinity School, said of the agent. “I could tell he felt embarrassed and potentially kind of exposed. I don’t know whether he was having some kind of epiphany. But it was clear he knew that I saw him — really saw him — in the middle of this horrible situation.”

When asked about the interactions, the agent said he was trying to communicate to the lawyers that the detainees were not the only ones at the facility who felt trapped. Walking away, at least in his mind, was not an option. Trying to change things on “a macro level,” the agent said, was for fools.

“The most I felt I could do was make sure toilet paper was stocked. Or if someone wanted an extra juice, I’d give them an extra juice. Or maybe do something to make someone’s day a little nicer; maybe smile and treat them with respect. That’s all I felt I had the power to do,” the agent said. “The ones that try to save the world, they’re the ones who either get burned out or put on a leash.”

The agent compared himself to the cynical donkey in George Orwell’s “Animal Farm” who survives by never sticking his neck out.

“I’ve decided that I’m not interested in advancement,” he said. “I’d rather be a full-time father than a full-time Border Patrol agent.”

But now that he’s home, he feels the experience has somehow followed him.

“I go to the playground with my kid, and I say to myself, ‘Why am I not enjoying this?’”

If you have any information about the Border Patrol you’d like to share, please email us at borderpatrol@propublica.org. For more secure ways to send us information, please see our instructions.

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Cool off in your local pool

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 4:00 PM

With 100-plus-degree weather in full effect, it's important to know where your nearest community pool is. There are many options scattered throughout Tucson and the cost is free to kids under 18. Adults pay just $2 to swim.

The city also offers swim classes, competitive swim team, synchronized swimming and lifeguard training among other summer programs.

Splash pads are another popular option for cooling down. A splash pad is a play area with fountains, sprinklers and other water features that spray water. With no standing water, splash pads are great for kids because there are less safety risks than pools. Tucson has three; Catalina Park, Palo Verde Park and the Naida Jane Baker Splash Pad.

Find your closest pool below or visit the City of Tucson to see all the summer programs they're offering this season.

click image COURTESY OF CITY OF TUCSON
  • Courtesy of City of Tucson

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Kirkpatrick: Time To Impeach Trump

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 1:59 PM


Congresswoman Ann Kirkpatrick, a Democrat who represents Southern Arizona's CD2, came out today in support of an impeachment inquiry against President Donald Trump.

Kirkpatrick had shied away from the "I" word until now (except during a campaign appearance in which she told someone that she would support impeachment) but explained that the Trump administration's stonewalling of various investigations by the Democrat-held House of Representatives had persuaded her that impeachment was the way to go.

From Kirkpatrick's comments on the House floor:

After meeting with countless Southern Arizonans, reading the Special Council’s report, and seeing the President and his administration defy Congressional subpoenas, I have concluded that the United States House of Representatives must open an impeachment inquiry into President Donald Trump. Following Mueller’s alarming report, it is Congress’ job to conduct oversight and deliver answers to the American people. Instead, the President has called upon his administration officials to ignore Congressional subpoenas and break the law, not just related to the Special Counsel’s investigation into collusion, but all areas of Congressional oversight — including census hearings, campaign finance violations, family separation, and so many more.

As a Congresswoman, former prosecutor and American citizen, I have a responsibility to stand up for the rule of law and defend our Constitution. This should not be made into a partisan fight or a debate about long-term election strategy, it’s about protecting our democracy. Nobody is above the law, especially not the President.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi has dismissed talk of impeachment, instead focusing on the various investigations that the Trump administration has been stonewalling. But as Lawrence Robbins has written in Slate, moving forward with an impeachment proceeding would give Trump's attorney little room to fight over what records must be turned over:

Crucially, a Senate impeachment trial could not get mired in multiple layers of district court and appellate court litigation. Under Article I, Section 3, Clause 6 of the Constitution, “when the President of the United States is tried, the Chief Justice shall preside.” As the “Presiding Officer,” under Senate impeachment Rule V, the chief justice has the power “to make and issue … all orders, mandates, writs, and precepts authorized by these rules or by the Senate.” The chief justice likewise has full authority to “direct all the forms of proceedings while the Senate is sitting for the purpose of trying an impeachment, and all forms during the trial not otherwise specially provided for.” According to the Senate rules, it is the chief justice as presiding officer who gets to “rule on all questions of evidence including, but not limited to, questions of relevancy, materiality, and redundancy of evidence and incidental questions.” And while Rule VII permits a member of the Senate to demand a Senate vote on the chief’s rulings, it is difficult to imagine even Mitch McConnell seeking to overrule Chief Justice John Roberts. Indeed, no senator challenged a single ruling by Chief Justice William Rehnquist during the Bill Clinton impeachment trial.

Whatever then happens for any given witness or exhibit, the chief’s rulings are apt to be prompt and efficient. There would be no reams of legal briefing, no extended oral arguments, no endless appeals. The parties would cut right to the chase, and the substance of the Mueller report allegations—not to mention the role of Individual 1 in providing hush money on the eve of the 2016 election—would play out on live TV.

So, for example, if the House impeachment managers call Don McGahn to testify, the White House cannot rush off to court to block his attendance. The president must make his objections to the chief justice, who will issue an effectively unreviewable order on “relevancy, materiality, and redundancy.” Given the central role McGahn played in Trump’s obstruction of justice, it is hard to imagine that the chief justice would restrict him from testifying. So too for most of the key players in Volume II of the Mueller report. And unlike what the Trump administration may do in the face of adverse rulings in the lower federal courts, it seems exceedingly unlikely—even with this president—that the administration would defy a ruling by the chief justice sitting as the presiding officer in an impeachment trial.

National Republican Congressional Committee spokeswoman Torunn Sinclair reacted to Kirkpatrick's support for impeachment by calling Kirkpatrick "a socialist Democrat whose blind hatred of President Trump impacts her ability to do her job.”

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XOXO: Where to Rock, Tuesday, July 16

Posted By on Tue, Jul 16, 2019 at 1:11 PM

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It's a testament to the power of social media. While studying classical clarinet at Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Cody Carson asked All Time Low’s Alex Gaskarth if he could sing “Coffee Shop Soundtrack,” at their upcoming House of Blues gig via a YouTub e video. Gaskarth agreed.

Fast forward and now, despite guitarist Dan Clermont’s recent hiatus from the band following allegations of sexual assault,
the symphonic rockers Set It Off dance the “Lonely Dance” at 191 Toole this Tuesday. They are flanked by post-hardcore four-piece Emarosa and pop punks Broadside. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. Details here.

Singer-songwriter
Steff Koeppen has a “Way With Words.” Her chill, electro pop provides the musical soundtrack for the Go For Launch Party: A celebration of the 50th Anniversary of the Apollo 11 mission to the moon at Sky Bar. The event is put on in collaboration with Novaspace, Spacefest and the University of Arizona Moonfest. The space-themed fun starts at 6 p.m. Details here.

The sulfuric vapors will seep up through the crevices from the underworld at Club Congress for a night filled with metal. Hailing from the Black Hills of South Dakota,
Souls with perform along with Arm’s Reach, Hellhook, Realize and Slow Descent starting at 7 p.m. Details here.

Traveling from the Lone Star State,
Punk With A Camera and Sad2 lock horns with locals Bleach Party USA, Pretty Ugly and Gutter Town for an all-ages diversion. Or is it subversion? The doors open at 7:30 p.m. at Blacklidge Community Collective. Details here.

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Monday, July 15, 2019

Claytoon of the Day: Go Back Where You Came From

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 2:23 PM

CLAY JONES
  • Clay Jones
Find more Claytoonz here.

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Laughing Stock: Rainbows, Unicorn Farts and Fairy Dust

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 11:50 AM

Kristine Levine rounds up the comedy for Tucson Pride - JIMI GIANNATTI
  • Jimi Giannatti
  • Kristine Levine rounds up the comedy for Tucson Pride
Tucson Pride delivers the second annual edition of Levine Productions’ Rainbows, Unicorn Farts and Fairy Dust Comedy show from 7 to 10 p.m. on Saturday, July 20 at La Quinta Inn & Suites Tucson Reid Park, 102 N. Alvernon Way. Tickets are $15 via Eventbrite and $20 at the door, cash only. The show is for ages 21 and older, and there will be a cash bar.

Tucson Pride President Sam Cloud said that the show is near to her and the group.

“This show is so special to me and our organization because it is a perfect example of grassroots organizing. Community members brought the idea to us. It is completely organized and run by those incredible volunteers and has become an annual event we look forward to sharing with the community (to) spread laughter and positive energy together."

Tucson’s (drag) Queen of Comedy Lucinda Holiday will host the comedy show, featuring Kristine Levine, comedian, co-host of The World Famous Frank show on KLPX and former Portlandia cast member. 
Tucson native Anthony Desamito "should be a household name." - ANTHONY DESAMITO
  • Anthony Desamito
  • Tucson native Anthony Desamito "should be a household name."

Featured comedian Anthony Desamito tours out of Los Angeles, but said Tucson is a favorite stop.

“Southern Arizona is a hidden gem,” he said. “I headlined Bisbee Pride and IBT's last summer so it’s an honor to help raise funds for Tucson Pride. We’re going to have the gayest time!”

Out Magazine and The Advocate both have profiled Desamito. The Daily Beast pegged him as a contemporary comic who "should be a household name," and the LA Weekly called him "a comic worth paying for." He was also the first winner of the annual Funniest Person with a Day Job competition hosted by the House of Comedy AZ.

Tucson native Andrew Horneman, now living in Austin, was a crowd favorite in last year’s Unicorn Farts show. His comedy about living gay is tremulously sensitive to social peculiarities that elude most of us. The result is a litany of laugh lines on premises that are as relatable as they are engaging.

While he’s in town, he’s added a 10:30 p.m. standup show on Friday, July 19 at Tucson Improv Movement for $5 at the door.

Tucson Poetry Festival Chair Em Bowen will bring their funny side to a guest slot. A popular guest on local comedy showcases, Em recently launched one of their own at Crooked Tooth Brewery. Bowen was also the highlight of the Let’s Talk about Sex Baby show at IBT’s last January as part of Tucson’s LOL comedy crawl.

A transplant to Tucson from Portland, Levine is known for no-holds-barred, feminism-based comedy. Like her life, according to her website, her comedy is raw, unapologetic and fierce. A friend and colleague of Doug Stanhope, she starred in his notorious film, The Unbookables, which was released on DVD last fall. Levine also holds a record for being the first woman to tour 50 states in 50 days.

TACO hosts a comedy benefit for Abortion Fund of Arizona
Is Olivia Grace ready to battle for reproductive rights? - TROY CONRAD
  • Troy Conrad
  • Is Olivia Grace ready to battle for reproductive rights?

Tucson Atheist Community Outreach Team (TACO) is hopeful laughter might be the best medicine for the sick social policies that are making access to abortions increasingly restrictive in the U.S.

With the help of Roxy Merrari, host of the Monday Comedy at the Wench series, the local service group has lined up top Tucson comedians for a benefit supporting The Abortion Fund of Arizona, which provides direct assistance to women seeking abortions. It’s a project of NARAL Pro-Choice America Foundation, a national organization that advocates for choice.

The event takes place at 7 p.m. on Friday, July 26 at The O, 2000 N. Oracle Road. Reservations are $10 via Eventbrite and $15 at the door.

Orange County native Olivia Grace tops the bill. She is best known for winning Comedy Central Roast Battles while still in high school. The feat inspired a short comedy feature about her which debuted at Sundance in 2016. Grace performed on all three seasons of Jeff Ross Presents: Roast Battle on Comedy Central. Most recently she was a writer for the 2018 Roast of Bruce Willis. She has participated in the Just For Laughs Festival and New York Comedy Festival.

Kristine Levine will be fresh from her tour de force benefit for Tucson Pride, the Rainbows, Unicorn Farts and Fairy Dust Comedy Show. Along with Merrari, the rest of the lineup includes Rebecca Tingley, Joe Tullar and Joel Martin. TACO honcho Don Lacey will emcee.

This post has been updated to correct the date of Levine Productions’ Rainbows, Unicorn Farts and Fairy Dust Comedy Show.

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Know Your Product - Arm's Reach

Posted By on Mon, Jul 15, 2019 at 9:57 AM

Branded as Arizona Hardcore, Arm's Reach is an apt name for this intense five-piece. Out of Phoenix, their music indeed sounds close enough to grab you. Jairus's vocals are aggressive, almost animalistic, but this doesn't stop the guitar and drums from occasionally reaching tech-death levels of complexity. Their newest release, a self-titled album released this April, fits as much punch in less than 10 minutes as many hardcore punk bands hope to achieve across multiple LPs. Arizona Hardcore is correct, this kind of power can only come from extreme heat.

See Arm's Reach with Hellhook at Club Congress. 7 p.m. Tuesday, July 16. 311 East Congress. Street 16+ $10-15.


Dead Kennedys Give me Convenience or Give Me Death
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I grew up jamming the Dead Kennedys with my uncle and they've always been a huge influence for me musically. Lyrically they brought up a lot of political issues and the overall apathy that so many people have toward the lower class, minorities, and other various people groups with less privilege. They were also very creative and great at their instruments. – Brandon (Guitar)





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Cro-Mags Age of Quarrel
The riffs on that record inspired me immensely as a teen. Changed me and the way I looked at hardcore forever. It's a record that has since stayed in my rotation. – Jorge (Guitar)









Terror
Always the Hard Way
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Finding that record my freshman year of high school, I found every song was an angry fast anthem full of raw energy. In my opinions it's underrated, heavy and still holds up. – Steven (Bass)









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Have Heart The Things We Carry
Although positive lyrics are typically not something I enjoy, The Things We Carry was a pivotal record for me as a 16-year-old. It taught me that music can stand for something more than just words on a page. – Jairus (Vocals)










Ceremony
Violence Violence
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To me, this is a perfect record. The emotions it taps into are unmatched. As a drummer, I fell in love with the intensity and rawness of it. It has had a huge impact on shaping what hardcore and punk means to me. – Josh (Drums)

Friday, July 12, 2019

A Title IX Pep Assembly

Posted By on Fri, Jul 12, 2019 at 3:41 PM

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It was a typical Friday pep assembly sometime in the late 1970s, early 1980s at Clackamas High School outside of Portland, Oregon, where I taught English.

Students and staff filled the bleachers in the gym on either side of the basketball court. We knew pretty much what to expect. The pep band would play. Some students might perform a skit, present some awards or give us a little pep talk. The girl's drill team might dance. For certain, we'd hear a coach or two tell us about that night's boys basketball game.

What we didn't know until the coach walked out in the middle of the court and announced it was that we would be watching a 10 minute scrimmage by the girls basketball team.

I knew we had a girls basketball team. Title IX mandated it. But that was all I and most of the rest of the crowd in the bleachers knew. Few people other than family and friends had gone to any of their games. We had no idea what to expect.

As I waited for the team to come out onto the court, I turned my eyes toward the gym ceiling and said a silent teacher's prayer. "Please let the young women do a competent job out there on the court. Please don't let them make fools of themselves. And if they don't play well, please, students, please don't laugh and make things even worse."

The team, divided into two squads, ran onto the court and began their pregame warmups. They looked . . . not bad. It was a promising beginning.

A few moments later, out came a half dozen of the school's jockiest boy athletes decked out in full cheerleader regalia — short skirts, sweaters with padded bras underneath, pompoms. They skipped and whooped and waved their pompoms in the air, then assumed their cheerleading positions in front of the crowd. Because, the boys decided, if the girls were going to invade their turf on the court, the boys would take the cheerleaders' places on the sidelines. Fun!

I was still in full teacher prayer mode when the scrimmage began. A minute into the game, I realized the girls didn't need any divine, or teacherly, intervention. They were moving the ball up and down the court, dribbling and passing effectively. They knew how to shoot.

They were good!

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Staff Pick

Tour of the Mission Garden at Tucson's Birthplace

Tours of a re-creation on the original site of the Spanish-colonial-era walled plot that was part of… More

@ Mission Garden Saturdays Corner of Grande Avenue and Mission Lane.

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Popular Content

  1. A Border Patrol Agent Reveals What It’s Really Like to Guard Migrant Children (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  2. Kirkpatrick: Time To Impeach Trump (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  3. Claytoon of the Day: Go Back Where You Came From (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  4. Laughing Stock: Rainbows, Unicorn Farts and Fairy Dust (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)
  5. XOXO: Where to Rock, Tuesday, July 16 (The Range: The Tucson Weekly's Daily Dispatch)

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