by Associated Press
Children may hear about this event from a variety of sources. Our school psychologists have a few suggestions to help:
• Talk to your child about this, but consider the age and developmental level of your child as you speak.
• Ask open ended questions like, “What did you hear?” or “How are you feeling?”, so you’ll know what your child knows and what his or her concerns may be.
• Be calm when talking to your child. Your child will take cues from your reaction.
• Reassure your child that adults are there to help them.
• Maintain normal household routines, but do not minimize the incident.
• Remember that, depending on your child’s age, it may not be appropriate to have him or her watch ongoing media coverage of the event.
• If your child is having unusual difficulty handling this tragedy, please contact your school’s social worker or psychologist for help.
Compiled by MCJ Staff
Though Milwaukee is more than 1,000 miles away from Newtown, Connecticut where 27 individuals—20 of them children, including six teachers and the principal—were killed by a lone gunman, two of the city’s top school officials said the impact is more horrific because the killings took place in a school and the victims were children.
MPS Superintendent Gregory Thornton and School Board President Michael Bonds were just some of the individuals in local government, community and religious organizations to express their grief at the loss of life that took place Friday, December 14.
Twenty-year old Adam Lanza, using a high-powered semi-automatic rifle, reportedly walked into the school and committed his unspeakable deed, taking the lives of children between the ages of six and seven. According to news reports, Lanza took his own life once he heard police closing in.
Thornton and Bonds encouraged parents and caring adults to be there for children who might have questions abut the incident and to help them through this difficult time.
In a letter to MPS parents that was posted on the district’s website and automated phone calls, Thornton assured them that their child’s safety “is our utmost concern. We have every reason to believe that Friday’s event is an isolated tragedy.
Thornton stressed as a precaution, all staff at all district schools have reviewed their safety plans and been reminded to stay watchful.
“We continue to review our security measures to make sure we’re taking every measure possible to protect your child,” said Thornton.
The superintendent suggested parents remind their children to tell an adult right away if they see or hear anything unusual.
Mayor Tom Barrett expressed his condolences on behalf of the city to the families and surviving victims and their families who “now face a lifetime of healing.
“As a father, I am heartbroken,” Barrett said, adding he stands with President Barrack Obama in urging the nation to come together to take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like the one in Newtown “regardless of our politics.
“As a community and a nation, we cannot simply move on from today’s tragedy. Too many lives have been taken, too many families destroyed.”
On Thursday, Dec. 20 at 6p.m., Career Youth Development and Peace for Change Alliance, Inc. will hold a candle light vigil at Victory Over Violence Park, located next to CYD and Clark Streets.
“As Newton mourns their lost, they also gained 26 new angels to watch over their city,” said Tracy Dent, president of Peace for Change Alliance.
Organizers said the vigil will also address the current gun laws in Wisconsin which, in the last several years have passed laws along individuals without criminal records to carry concealed weapons and the “Castle Law,” which allow individuals to use deadly force to defend their homes against intruders.
The shootings have also sparked action. Three state legislators announced plans Tuesday to introduce new gun control laws.
During a news conference in the rotunda of city hall, three members of Milwaukee’s state legislative delegation: Rep. Fred Kessler, Representatives-Elect Mandela Barnes and Evan Goyke said they will co-introduce three pieces of legislation designed to reduce the chances of similar tragedies from ever happening again.
According to Kessler, one bill will take aim at certain types of ammunition, banning high-velocity, maximum damage bullets such as hollow-point bullets or the .223-caliber ammo used by Lanza, which; a second bill focuses on a ban on assault weapons similar to the law in California.
This law would prohibit the possession, distribution, importation, transport, sale, transfer or give away of assault weapons.
Under the proposal, pre-ban assault weapons may be grandfathered, but would require registration.
The third takes the mental health history of prospective concealed carry gun owners into consideration; requiring prospective gun owners to undergo a psychological evaluation by a Wisconsin psychologist or psychiatrist of their own choosing and receive a clean bill of mental health.
Safe ride program returns to help Milwaukee ring in the New Year safely
New Year’s Eve marks the start of the 25th year of Miller Lite Free Rides® in Milwaukee. Teaming with Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS), Waukesha Metro Transit and Beer Capitol Distributing, Miller Lite will offer the popular safe ride program in Milwaukee and Waukesha to provide area residents and visitors an alternative transportation option to travel safely from their New Year’s Eve celebrations December 31.
“Miller Lite Free Rides is a Milwaukee tradition that has provided nearly 1.2 million rides locally since its inception 25 years ago,” said Diane Wagner, responsibility commerce manager for MillerCoors. “With great beer comes great responsibility and we encourage those ringing in the New Year in Milwaukee to again make Miller Lite Free Rides a part of their celebration and plan ahead for a safe ride home.”
Over the years, the Miller Lite Free Rides program has gained the support of state and local law enforcement, including Milwaukee County Office of the Sheriff, as well as the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. Miller Lite Free Rides has provided more than 3 million total safe rides in 10 communities since 1987.
For detailed route and schedule information, call 1-800-FREE-RIDES (1- 800-373-3743), text “FREERIDES” to 90464 or visit www.MillerLite- FreeRides.com.
Like many of you, I have been immersed in images emanating from the tragedy in Connecticut. As the holidays approaches there are dozens of families trying to come to grips with the devastation brought on by the mass shooting. There are no deep and profound words to make what happened make sense.
There is no flowery way to summarize the situation or explain the motivation of one so ill that they could not see the value of the souls they were mowing down through their haze of mental and or spiritual illness.
The truth is that everyday we wake up; we wake up to the new mercies provided to us by God. We also wake up with no assurances that we will live to see the end of the day. This realization should motivate us to live not only for the moment, but for eternity.
We are grieving as a nation for parents who shall say a final earthly farewell to the little ones who they taught to brush their teeth, comb their hair and who just mastered tying their shoes.
We stand solemnly in prayer as these parents clutch book bags filled with crayons that will never be used and fold away cartoon bed sheets that will never be slept on again.
The pain of such loss seems unimaginable and unbearable. Yet some of these same loving and supportive people who are pouring out their concern for these families are unmoved by the sad state of their own families and relationships.
This tragedy should have brought an immediate perspective and resolution to all of us.
Children should have been hugged tighter. Parents should have been appreciated even more.
Teachers, administrators and other protectors of children hailed for their daily sacrifices to make the lives of children better. America, it is time to get things right. Now.
It is time to forgive people. It is time to let go of past issues. It is time to say, “I love you”, “thank you”, “I need you”, and “I appreciate you”. It is also time to look at ourselves and others and start doing things that make sense.
It is time for us to honor teachers and administrators and see them as vital members of the team and not as enemies.
They are the ones that will stand between our children and an assassin when you are miles away.
Not only are they often underpaid, they use the little money that they have to buy more supplies to minister to the needs of your children – they deserve your help, supply donations and utmost respect.
It is time to take mental healthcare seriously. If people have mental health issues, let’s get them help. It is not an indictment on faith or the church to use therapy or medication to regulate an imbalance.
When you hear people ignorantly shunning psychiatric drugs for others while swallowing a daily aspirin, using an inhaler and taking medicine for themselves – that’s not Gospel (good news) that’s foolishness.
If people insist on buying guns that are designed for combat – let’s get them tested psychiatrically annually. I had to be psychologically tested over a three day period to be ordained to carry the Word in the American Baptist Church – how much more should someone carrying an assault rifle for home use need to be checked to make sure that they are stable?
It’s time for us to protect our children, pray for our nation and rededicate ourselves to God. It’s also time to ask ourselves individually – am I ready to die?
Have I prepared myself spiritually just in case the next bullet passes through me?
Have I taught my children, nieces and nephews and neighbors to know and serve the Lord so that should something happen to them I could, at the very least, rest in the knowledge that it is well with their souls.
No zip code is exempt. No area too elite. No culture is above calamity. Our neighborhoods are not bulletproof and our schools are not bomb proof.
It can happen anywhere, anyway, to anyone. It’s time to get it right. Now.
HIV/AIDS in the black community ATLANTA – The NAACP hosted its 14th annual National Religious Leaders Summit in Atlanta last week to help move the faith community back to its long-held leadership role in matters of social justice. Faith leaders committed to working with the NAACP to address the HIV/AIDS crisis and other important issues.
“The NAACP is committed to strengthening our historical connection with the faith community at this crucial moment in our nation’s history,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “We are excited to continue our partnership in the coming year.”
During the three-day meeting, held December 10 to 12, faith and lay leaders created a post-election political agenda for communities of faith, focused on protecting voting rights and advancing strategies for job creation in the African American community.
NAACP Board of Directors Chairman Roslyn M. Brock helmed a dialogue session with mainline protestant denominations to discuss the NAACP’s Five Strategic “Game Changer” areas.
A significant outcome of the dialogue was a national commitment from faith leaders to address HIV/AIDS in the black community, in response to the NAACP’s report The Black Church and HIV: The Social Justice Imperative.
The leaders agreed to work with the NAACP to expand HIV testing opportunities and offer faith-based training and prevention education in churches, seminaries, historically black colleges and universities and organizational national conventions.
The Summit featured a national training session on HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention that was attended by approximately 100 pastors, faith leaders and members of local NAACP units and state conferences. Representatives attended from cities with some of the highest rates of HIV prevalence.
“The commitment to engage in this important work from the highest offices of these denominations solidified the Black Church’s overall concern and commitment to reverse the HIV/AIDS epidemic,” said Brock.
Faith leaders also paid tribute to a leader of their own. A Master Preacher Award was bestowed upon Rev. Joseph Lowery for lifetime achievement in civil and human rights advocacy.
“Rev. Lowery represents a lifetime of preaching and living the gospel of justice and fairness,” stated Rev. Nelson Rivers III, Vice President of Stakeholder relations with the NAACP.
“It was a powerful moment for all the generations present to see a civil rights icon like Dr. Lowery, as well as Dr. C.T. Vivian, another legend who presented him the award.”
The black churches represented at the meeting included AME Zion, Christian Methodist Episcopal (CME), Black Methodist for Church Renewal (BMCR), National Baptist Convention-USA, National Baptist Convention of America, Progressive National Baptist and Primitive National Baptist.
Baltimore, MD – On Friday, the NAACP leaders released the following statements on the tragedy in Newtown, CT, where at least 28 people were reported dead after a school shooting, including 20 children:
“Our hearts are with the families of Newtown today,” stated NAACP Connecticut State Conference President Scot X. Esdaile.
“The NAACP will do everything in its power to help the community in its time of need.
“The Greater Danbury NAACP has been working to make sure that everyone in the area is safe, and the state conference leadership is offering our resources as well.”
“This type of event reminds us how important family is and how precious our children are,” stated NAACP Chairman Roslyn M. Brock. “The healing process must begin now as we join communities and families together in Connecticut and across the nation.”
“Today’s horrific crime claimed so many lives and so many futures,” stated NAACP President and CEO Benjamin Todd Jealous. “Our thoughts and prayers go out to the victims, their families, and the entire community of Newtown. We will continue to support the community as it recovers from this tragedy.”
by Orrin Hudson
Nationwide (BlackNews.com) — The recent massacre in Newtown, Connecticut is a cry for help across our entire country. President Obama during a memorial service, said, “I’ll use whatever power I have to prevent the type of tragedy that occurred… We all need to contribute in some way, shape or form to the betterment of our nation and communities.” And he was right!
Too often now, we are hearing about such massacres in different parts in the country. Sometimes, they occur at schools, malls and even workplaces. Sometimes, the shooter is a child, sometimes he or she is an adult. Regardless, we as a national community must start pushing the message to “THINK IT OUT, DON’T SHOOT IT OUT”.
The problem is that many of us think we are separate from others; But we are universally one. One song. We normally realize this when a tragedy strikes, but really we should realize this all along. Instead, we are walking in fear, not walking in love. We should be walking in love. We must move away from anger and fear towards each other.
We must embrace and promote life lessons, communication skills, and coping skills. We must teach to each other how to deal with life challenges, and solve problems peacefully. We must adapt slogans such as “Brain Before Bullets”, and as mentioned before, “Think It Out, Don’t Shoot It Out”.We must do more than talk; we must act and the time to act is now.
Talk to your children regularly and address their emotional needs. Learn how to identify the signs of depression and mental illness. Be on alert for signs that show mental instability, uncontrolled anger, and even unreasonableness. If needed, take action to get them the medical attention they need.
Also, take caution with the movies, video games, and music that your children are involved with. Garbage in, garbage stays! Take caution when buying toy guns and such for your kids. Such activities can stimulate violent desires and fantasies in your children. Teach them to walk in love.
Pay attention to your students. Don’t teach at them, teach to them. Inspire them.
Challenge them, but don’t discourage them. Don’t overwhelm them. Don’t create unnecessary stress for them that they can’t handle. Always remember that, in addition to school, students have a life at home. They are people, they are real. Be a friend, be a counselor. Teach them to walk in love.
Embrace each other. Pay attention to each other’s needs. Eat meals together, and talk to each other – in person. If there is a problem or disagreement, settle it. And if someone has mental challenges, assist them. Don’t allow problems to go on unsettled. Also, don’t be abusive in your speech towards each. Words cut like knives, and some wounds never heal. Be effective. Be compassionate. Be the solution.
Teach each other to walk in love.
This isn’t where it ends, but it is definitely where it starts. So, let’s start here, right here, right now!
Orrin “Checkmate” Hudson is an award-winning author and master motivational speaker who has inspired many to “make the right move” and solve problems peacefully.
Associated Press/Charles Krupa – A child peers through firefighters standing as the procession heads to the cemetery outside the funeral for school shooting victim Daniel Gerard Barden at St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church in Newtown, Conn., Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2012. According to firefighters, Daniel wanted to be a firefighter when he grew up and they honored him at the service. Barden, 7, was killed when Adam Lanza walked into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., Dec. 14, and opened fire, killing 26 people, including 20 children, before killing himself. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)
by Associated Press
Newtown, Conn. (AP) — One by one by one by one, each with fresh heartbreak, hearses crisscrossed two New England towns on Wednesday, bearing three tiny victims of the Sandy Hook school massacre and a heroic teacher in a seemingly never-ending series of funeral processions.
“The first few days, all you heard were helicopters,” said Dr. Joseph Young, an optometrist who attended one funeral and would go to several more. “Now at my office all I hear is the rumble of motorcycle escorts and funeral processions going back and forth throughout the day.”
As more victims from the slaughter of 20 children and six adults were laid to rest, long funeral processions clogged the streets of Newtown, where Christmas trees were turned into memorials and a season that should be a time of joy was marked by heart-wrenching loss.
At least nine funerals and wakes were held Wednesday for those who died when gunman Adam Lanza, armed with a military-style assault rifle, broke into the school Friday and opened fire on their classrooms. Lanza killed his mother at her home before the attack and committed suicide at the school as police closed in.
At St. Rose of Lima Catholic Church, mourners arrived for Caroline Previdi, an auburn-haired 6-year-old with an impish smile, before the service had even ended for Daniel Barden, a 7-year-old who dreamed of being a firefighter.
“It’s sad to see the little coffins,” said the Rev. John Inserra, a Catholic priest who worked at St. Rose for years before transferring to a church in Greenwich.
He returned to his old parish to comfort families wondering how a loving God could permit such carnage and has attended several of the funerals.
“It’s always hard to bury a child,” Inserra said of the seemingly unrelenting cycle of sorrow and loss. “God didn’t do this. God didn’t allow this. We allowed it. He said, ‘Send the little children to me.’ But he didn’t mean it this way.”
Hundreds of firefighters formed a long blue line outside the church for little Daniel’s funeral. Two of his relatives work at the Fire Department of New York, and the gap-toothed redhead had wanted to join their ranks one day.
“If me being here helps this family or this community just a little bit, it’s worth it,” said Kevin Morrow, a New York firefighter and father of two young girls. “He wanted to be a firefighter, as any young boy wants to be.”
Family friend Laura Stamberg, of New Paltz, N.Y., whose husband plays in a band with Daniel’s father, said that on the morning of the shooting, Mark Barden taught his son to play a Christmas song on the piano.
“They played foosball and then he taught him the song and then he walked him to the bus and that was their last morning together,” Stamberg said.
At Caroline’s funeral, mourners wore pink ties and scarves — her favorite color — and remembered her as a New York Yankees fan who liked to kid around. “Silly Caroline” was how she was known to neighbor Karen Dryer.
“She’s just a girl that was always smiling, always wanting others to smile,” Dryer said.
Across town, at Christ the King Lutheran Church, hundreds gathered for the funeral of Charlotte Helen Bacon, many wearing buttons picturing the 6-year-old redhead. Speakers, including her grandfather, told of her love of wild animals, the family’s golden retriever and the color pink.
She was “a beautiful little girl who could be a bit stubborn at times — just like all children,” said Danbury resident Linda Clark as she left the service.
And in nearby Stratford, family and friends gathered to say goodbye to Victoria Soto, a first-grade teacher hailed as a hero for trying to shield her students, some of whom escaped. Musician Paul Simon, a family friend, performed “The Sound of Silence” at the service.
“She had the perfect job. She loved her job,” said Vicky Ruiz, a friend since first grade.
Every year, Soto described her students the same way, Ruiz said.
“They were always good kids. They were always angels,” she said, even if, like typical first-graders, they might not always listen.
In Woodbury, a line of colleagues, students and friends of slain Sandy Hook Principal Dawn Hochsprung, 47, wrapped around the block to pay their respects to the administrator, who rushed the gunman in an effort to stop him and paid with her life. U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan attended the service.
“She loved kids. She’d do anything to help them and protect them,” said Joann Opulski, of Roxbury.
In emotion-charged Newtown, tempers flared as residents of the town of 27,000 navigated the hordes of reporters and camera crews that descended on the town. Some shouted at reporters outside the funerals Wednesday, urging them to leave their town in peace.
Cynthia Gubitose said the shooting and its aftermath have jolted what she described as a quintessential “Norman Rockwell, New England community.”
“Nobody knew about Sandy Hook,” Gubitose said as she placed flowers at a memorial with bouquets stacked chest-high. “Many of the people that live here like it that way.”
The symbol of Christmas took on a new meaning in the town, where one memorial featured 26 Christmas trees — one for each victim at the school.
Edward Kish said he bought a Christmas tree two days before the shooting but hasn’t had the heart to put it up or decorate it.
“I’ll still put it up, probably,” he said. “It doesn’t seem right, and it doesn’t seem like Christmas.”
Mourners from across the country came to offer condolences. A jazz band from Alabama played at the main memorial site as local children played with a team of trained therapy dogs brought in to provide comfort.
At the Newtown Library, dozens of people gathered for a meeting of Newtown United, a grassroots community group formed in the wake of the shootings. The topic was gun legislation and how the community could push for a ban on assault weapons and other measures to make certain types of guns and ammunition more difficult to obtain.
There was a rumor that guests from Washington, D.C., would show up. About 10 minutes into the meeting Sen. Richard Blumenthal and Sen.-elect Chris Murphy walked into the room, to applause and surprised looks. They spoke and took questions for about a half-hour.
The school massacre continued to reverberate around America as citizens and lawmakers debated whether Newtown might be a turning point in the often-polarizing national discussion over gun control.
President Barack Obama promised he’d send Congress broad proposals for tightening gun laws and curbing violence and pressed Congress to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. He called for stricter background checks for people who seek to buy weapons and limited high-capacity clips.
“This time, the words need to lead to action,” said Obama, who set a January deadline for the recommendations.
Authorities say the horrific events of Friday began when Lanza shot his mother, Nancy Lanza, at their home and then took her car and some of her guns to the nearby school.
Investigators have found no letters or diaries that could explain the attack.
However, Connecticut’s chief medical examiner, Dr. H. Wayne Carver, told The Hartford Courant he is looking for genetic clues that might explain the behavior and is working with the University of Connecticut department of genetics.
by Associated Press
Washington — Spurred by a horrific elementary school shooting, President Barack Obama (pictured right) vowed to send Congress new policy proposals for reducing gun violence by January.
“This time, the words need to lead to action,” Obama said Wednesday. He tasked Vice President Joe Biden (pictured) with leading an administration-wide effort to create the new recommendations and pledged to push for their implementation without delay.
The President, who exerted little political capital on gun control despite a series of mass shootings in his first term, bristled at suggestions that he had been silent on the issue during his first four years in office. But he acknowledged that Friday’s deadly shooting had been “a wake-up call for all of us.”
Twenty children and six adults were killed when a man carrying a military-style rifle stormed Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Conn., Friday morning.
The President also called on Congress Wednesday to reinstate an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004 and to pass legislation that would close the gun show “loophole,” which allows people to purchase firearms from private dealers without a background check. Obama also said he wanted Congress to pursue the possibility of limiting high-capacity ammunition clips.
“The fact that this problem is complex can no longer be an excuse for doing nothing,” Obama said. “The fact that we can’t prevent every act of violence doesn’t mean we can’t steadily reduce the violence.”
The President’s announcement Wednesday underscores the urgency the White House sees in formulating a response to the Newtown shooting. The massacre has prompted several congressional gun rights supporters to consider new legislation to control firearms, and there is some concern that their willingness to engage could fade as the shock and sorrow over the Newtown shooting eases.
Obama said it was “encouraging” to see people of different backgrounds and political affiliations coming to an understanding that the country has an obligation to prevent such violence.
Appealing to gun owners, Obama said he believes in the Second Amendment and the country’s strong tradition of gun ownership. And he said “the vast majority of gun owners in America are responsible.”
“I am also betting that the majority, the vast majority, of responsible law-abiding gun owners would be some of the first to say that we should be able to keep an irresponsible, law-breaking few from buying a weapon of war,” Obama said.
Obama also tasked the Biden-led team with considering ways to improve mental health resources and address ways to create a culture that doesn’t promote violence. The departments of Justice, Education, Health and Human Services, and Homeland Security, along with outside groups and lawmakers, will all be part of the process.
Biden’s prominent role in the process could be an asset for the White House in getting gun legislation through Congress. The Vice President spent decades in the Senate and has been called on by Obama before to use his long-standing relationships with lawmakers to build support for White House measures.
The President challenged the National Rifle Association, the country’s most powerful gun lobby and key backer of many Republican politicians, to join the broader effort to reduce gun violence as well.
“Hopefully they’ll do some self-reflection,” Obama said of the NRA.
The NRA made its first comments since the shooting on Tuesday, promising to offer “meaningful contributions to help make sure this never happens again.”
Obama said that while taking the necessary steps to reduce gun violence would take commitment and compromise, he said it could be achieved if Washington summons “even one tiny iota of the courage of those teachers, that principal in Newtown summoned on Friday.”
Many firearm owners who took part in the violence prevention initiative expressed horror at Friday’s tragedy. The event, which was sponsored by Klein’s ShopRite and operated by a nonprofit called UpLift Solutions, rewarded a $100 grocery store gift card in exchange for each gun that was handed over to law enforcement officials.
One elderly woman, Sonia White, told the The Sun that the service revolver she was turning in belonged to her husband who was a corrections officer. “After the Connecticut incident, it was time to get it out of the house,” said the 65-year-old woman, who admits she broke down when picking up her grandchildren from school on Friday.
Gary Barksdale, 30, handed over two rifles into the waiting hands of officers at the event. The young man, who was accompanied by his dad, also claimed that the Newtown shooting was his motivation to surrender his firearms. “That really motivated me to come out,” he told The Sun.
People who stood in line waiting to dispose of their guns had them wrapped in everything from towels, to shopping bags, to large trash bags. After 12:00 p.m., the line stretched down the block as many waited patiently to enter St. Paul Baptist Church in the city’s Coldstream Homestead Montebello area.
The Baltimore Police Department recovered some 2,000 guns during arrests this year alone. A city sponsored buyback program back in 2005 resulted in about 1,700 weapons surrendered during a week’s time.