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Boycotts, Bans, & You:
Criminal Boycotts?!

U.S. Lawmakers Seek to Criminalize
Boycott Campaign Against Israel

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Within the last year, there has been a rise in political speech and activism towards many momentous events, such as North Korean conflict, same-sex marriage, to Twitter going beyond 140 characters! In relation to this article, a group of senators wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the boycott against Israel, resulting in a maximum criminal penalty of $1 million and 20 years in prison.

Why is there a boycott on Israel and why is it becoming an international movement?

According to a Time article, the boycott movement was started by the Israelis-Zionist (a person who believes in the development and protection of a Jewish nation, Israel) liberals who support Israel’s existence on land it won in the 1948 war, but with Israel’s occupation in Palestinian territory in 1967, the Israelis wanted to boycott goods produced by Israeli companies (that operate on Palestinian land). Over time, this situation gained different opinions from other countries. Some felt sympathetic towards the Palestinians while others were in favor of Israel.

For more information regarding the history of the Boycott campaign, click here!

Which leads us to the boycott movement today. Around the world, people are expressing their avoidance of Israel and are getting punished for it. For instance, in France, activists have been arrested and prosecuted for wearing T-shirts advocating a boycott of Israel. In the U.K., has enacted a series of measures designed to outlaw such activism. Leading into the United States, U.S. governors are trying to impose strict regulations of any boycotts aimed even at Israeli settlements. In July 2017, a group of senators wants to implement a law that would make it a felony for Americans to support the international boycott against Israel. But, people have questioned that penalizing boycotting may infringe upon the first amendment’s freedom of speech and protest.

 

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Questions:

1) How does this violate or how does this not violate the right to freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment?

2) How does this violate or how does this not violate the right to freedom of speech granted by the First Amendment?

3) Why do you think boycotting as a form of activism should or should not be a felony offense?

4) Some critics of the attempted boycott ban argued that this type of ban would not be attempted if it was any other nation allied with the United States, and that Jewish and Christian lawmakers have suggested the ban because of religious beliefs rather than out of national security concerns.  Remember: the First Amendment suggests there should be some separation of church and state, but how that separation should look has led to many legal battles throughout American history.

With those observations in mind Why do you feel that it is acceptable or unacceptable for lawmakers to make decisions based on their own personal beliefs when serving in government, and

5) How are your feelings (as explained in response to Question 4) supported or not supported by the wording of the First Amendment,  and what precedent-setting legal decisions support your response?

 

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

 https://theintercept.com/2017/07/19/u-s-lawmakers-seek-to-criminally-outlaw-support-for-boycott-campaign-against-israel/

 

Contributed by – J. Pennington

Real Heroes Don’t Always Wear Capes: #BlackPantherChallenge

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Finally kids can see a movie where the main superhero looks like them (without having to sneak into an R-rated vampire flick or sitting through a Razzie-winning Catwoman). People are so excited, that over 100 GoFundMe pages have been created to send young children (primarily of color) from low income families to see Marvel’s Black Panther…

These movie-ticket drives are happening across the nation in droves.

GoFundMe accounts have multiplied into the hundreds with politicians, entertainers and the director of the Black Panther movie contributing.

The original drive was originated by New Yorker Frederick Joseph, who found that that the feature film Wonder Woman empowered girls, thought the Black Panther movie would do the same for students primarily of color. He started the original #BlackPantherChallenge early last month and so far has raised $430k to send over 30,000 children to the movie.

Cities supporting the GoFundMe drives for the #BlackPantherChallenge range from Detroit, Michigan to San Diego, California.

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Questions:

1) Wonder Woman empowered young women when it was released, and it had been a long time since there was such a successful superhero movie featuring a lead female superhero.  Given those conditions, why weren’t there similar fundraisers to take young women to see Wonder Woman? 

2) How do superheroes (or just other really generous and community-minded people) inspire you to do things like organize a trip to the theater for a large group of children?

3)  Are the many #BlackPantherChallenge campaigns inspiring you to do something to improve your community? If they are, tell us what you plan to do!  

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://www.today.com/parents/man-wants-send-kids-black-panther-great-reason-t121104

Volunteers Feed The Homeless,
Get Arrested By Police

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On January 14th of 2018, 12 people from a volunteer group were arrested for handing out food to the homeless.

To provide some backstory to this situation, a community group called “Break The Ban” were distributing food and other items to the homeless population at a park in California. According to the police officers that arrived, they were violating a ban on sharing food in city-owned public areas, which was recently passed by the City of El Cajon in 2017. The reason for this ban was to stop the spread of Hepatitis A. the police cited some of the volunteers to jail but did not take them. But, for the two volunteers they arrested are scheduled to appear in court. The group was outraged by the act and is planning to fight the citations and the food-sharing ban.

There was another case in which this incident has occurred. According to Forbes, in Fort Lauderdale, police arrested a 90-year old man and two ministers in 2014 for trying to share their food with the homeless. In October of 2014, the city enacted an ordinance that bans sharing food in public parks, unless they have a permit from the city. As a result of this situation, the organization arrested (Food Not Bombs) sued the city of Fort Lauderdale on the basis of the ordinance violated their right to free speech and free association, and the ordinance was “unconstitutionally vague.” At first, a federal district court dismissed the case since food sharing events were outside the scope of the First Amendment since it did not convey a “particularized message.”

But, under that line of reasoning, that sounds like the First Amendment is confined to expressions conveying a particularized message. So, as a result, the case was ruled that Food Not Bombs does have a First Amendment right to share food. The case was sent back down to the lower courts to determine if the city’s ordinance was in violation of those rights. The city of Lauderdale has not responded to the request yet.


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Questions:

1) How does the First Amendment apply to these news stories?

2) Why do you feel the ordinance being issued to prevent the spread of Hepatitis A was or was not justified? 

3) Are there laws in your community restricting feeding the homeless, if so what are they, how do you feel about there being or not being laws about this activity in your community, and what can you do to support/change those local laws/policies?

4) (High School Students only) Even if you disagree with the policy in this case, imagine that there are some activities that people volunteer for or donate to that are meant to ‘make the world a better place’, but which should be managed or limited by local laws. How should local governments and law makers decide if an activity requires them to get involved in those activities (ex: Should sheltering homeless animals and feeding the homeless face the same kinds of restriction)?

 

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/homeless-el-cajon-california-arrests_us_5a5de4f4e4b0fcbc3a1355f4?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

And / or

https://www.forbes.com/sites/nicksibilla/2018/08/27/federal-court-first-amendment-protects-sharing-food-with-homeless-people/#fe8283b4884

 

Contributed by – J. Pennington

Giving Back With
A Global Giraffe Game!

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Giraffe populations have dropped dramatically in the past twenty years, in fact in Northern Kenya the population has dropped by over 70% in the past two decades. Researchers have been working at finding a solution to decrease the rapid rate that giraffes are decreasing in population size. The road to that starts with observing the giraffes.

The status of the giraffe population has placed them on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as Vulnerable and on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.

Poaching, habitat loss and disease has made them extinct in seven African nations. For a species that once had over 160,000 in 1985, there are less than 100,000 remaining. In the sub-Saharan desert, the extinction of the giraffe has gone largely unnoticed.

This is where you come in.

The researchers have set up an online site where users actively stream the footage and help the researchers make observations. This is a great way to make a global impact without having to leave the comfort of your own home. The crowd sourcing project invites the public to help organize the data, which is vital to the success of the conservation projects.

Those projects also provide people to actively engage in the protection of endangered species. More than 1 million images from the motion-activated camera in Kenya have assisted the researchers in cataloging each image and identifying and counting the animals caught on camera.

“Community conservancies are where we are seeing strong signs of hope with increasing giraffe population numbers and we are working hard to support those conservancies”, said David O’Connor, researcher and conservation ecologist for the San Diego Zoo.

You can play the game and spend some time saving giraffes here:
https://www.zooniverse.org/projects/sandiegozooglobal/wildwatch-kenya/classify

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Questions:

1) This volunteer opportunity is one that can be fun and really convenient at the same time.  Now it’s your turn: Come up with your own idea for a unique way to make the world a better place like this one! What is your idea, and how would it work ?

2) If you have already heard of other opportunities like this one – something fun and easy that helps make a big difference, what was it and what about it seems fun to you?   If you haven’t heard of other  ‘fun’ volunteer options, go searching online for ‘fun easy volunteering’ opportunities, and then report back: What is one opportunity you found that you would be willing to do, and what makes it so appealing to you ?

Original Source:
http://zoonooz.sandiegozoo.org/2017/06/20/san-

Protesting, Penalties, & 1st Amendment Rights

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The First Amendment gives Americans the right to free speech, stating “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The phrase ‘the right of people to peaceably assemble’ may not bring the same heated debates on interpretation as the language in the Second Amendment (the right to ‘bear arms’), however the lack of clarity has been the source of many a legal battle throughout American history.  From the students of Kent University being shot at in 1970 to the recent protests over the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), protesters and law enforcement have faced off in situations that have resulted in contested (though often times upheld) arrests.

When protesters turn violent or simply begin to destroy property, law enforcement agencies clearly have a mandate to control the situation. What about when protesters conduct ‘sit-ins’ or temporarily block roads during a protest?   On one hand they are interfering with tax-paying citizens’ ability to use the resources they contribute to – What if one of those citizens was you and you were running late to work?  On the other hand, they are being peaceful and attempting to exercise their constitutional rights to free speech and assembly to draw attention to a cause that is important to them…and maybe to you!

States across the country are currently putting laws in place to more clearly define these situations on what does and does not fit within the definition of the right to peaceably assemble.  These pending laws might be inspiring you to ask a wide variety of great questions!


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Questions:

1)  If  ‘Congress shall make no law’, when states pass these laws restricting / limiting protests, are they legal? Should that be left to the Supreme Court to decide? What should the definition of ‘peaceably assemble’ be?  

2) What are three examples of what you believe are reasonable and legal methods of protest?  

3) What are three examples of what you believe are unreasonable and illegal methods of protest?  

 

Be sure to provide full explanations for each of your answers. For more details, you can read the article this piece was sourced from here:

http://www.npr.org/2017/01/31/512636448/bills-across-the-country-could-increase-penalties-for-protesters




My favorite part of the fieldtrip to the courthouse is when I got to play the part of Ron. I got to go on the witness chair and speaking. I helped Potter to be not guilty. Thank you for the great opportunity.


- Johnathan M  [Harmon Elementary - Grade 4]
Project Real
2020-12-16T21:47:04+00:00
My favorite part of the fieldtrip to the courthouse is when I got to play the part of Ron. I got to go on the witness chair and speaking. I helped Potter to be not guilty. Thank you for the great opportunity. - Johnathan M  [Harmon Elementary - Grade 4]

Thank you for letting us watch the civil case!  It was cool because it was a real case and not one played out. I had a lot of fun watching the other kids act out a session.  Thank you for your time.

- Kaylie [Hewetson Elementary - Grade 5]

Project Real
2020-12-11T20:39:35+00:00
Thank you for letting us watch the civil case!  It was cool because it was a real case and not one played out. I had a lot of fun watching the other kids act out a session.  Thank you for your time. - Kaylie [Hewetson Elementary - Grade 5]

Thank you for letting us experience court for the first time.  It was the best experience ever, thank you for everything. You really made me think about being a judge. Thank you


-Mina L [ Twitchell Elementary - Grade 5]

Project Real
2020-12-16T22:04:09+00:00
Thank you for letting us experience court for the first time.  It was the best experience ever, thank you for everything. You really made me think about being a judge. Thank you -Mina L [ Twitchell Elementary - Grade 5]
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