Gun lobby has funneled millions of dollars into schools to promote shooting sports

first_imgiStock/Thinkstock(PARKLAND, Fla.) — On the eve of the landmark march by thousands of high school students and their supporters speaking out about gun control, an ABC News analysis of tax return records shows that the National Rifle Association Foundation has funneled millions of dollars into schools to promote shooting sports.From 2010 through 2016, the charitable subsidiary to the pro-gun group gave $7.3 million in grants to more than 500 schools, school clubs and school districts to fund youth clubs and provide equipment for varsity competitive shooting teams.Boasting one of the nation’s largest JROTC programs, according to Broward County Public Schools spokesperson Cathleen Brennan, schools in Broward County, including Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, received nearly $127,000 in grants from the charitable arm of the pro-gun interest group between 2013 and 2016.Nearly half of the more than 700 NRA grants to schools went through JROTC programs across the country.U.S. Army Cadet Command, which oversees the JROTC programs, did not respond to ABC News’ request for comment.With the success of its JROTC program, the Broward County Public Schools received an additional $5,066 from the NRA Foundation this year, but following the recent tragedy, the school district decided to return its latest NRA grants.Brennan said the school district will no longer accept grants from the NRA and it’s reviewing all of its standard practices and procedures regarding shooting clubs and their funding. In the past, individual schools in the Broward County have applied for and handled outside grants for their marksmanship teams, and not typically tracked by the district, Brennan added.While some school districts have followed Broward County Public Schools to return NRA money, other schools maintain that the grants are essential for running the popular sports that open up many opportunities for students.Woodcreek High School Sportsmen’s Club in Roseville, California, which has been overseeing the school’s trap, skeet and sporting clays teams for 13 years, has received five-figure annual grants from the NRA Foundation, totaling $124,559 between 2010 and 2016.“This school club allows students who do not have an interest in participating in traditional high school sports the opportunity to connect with, compete for and be a part of the high school sports experience,” Woodcreek High School Sportsmen’s Club head coach Alex Gray told ABC News.Before joining the shooting team, Gray added, students are required to go through an extensive one-day safety training class, during which new members learn about proper firearm handling techniques and practice extensively with coaches and experienced members of the team at live fire exercise.At a small high school in Sutter, California, shooting clubs are among the most popular clubs that boasts more than 80 participants out of the total of 750 students.“It’s an expensive sport,” Sutter Union High School Superintendent and Principal Ryan Robison said.Robison said the NRA grants to the school’s trap and rifle teams — a total of $79,000 between 2013 and 2016 — account for less than half of the shooting clubs’ total funding, but it helps open up the experience to as many students as possible.Similarly at Woodcreek High School, Gray said the NRA grants to the club have provided about two to three shotguns to each competitive team member, reducing their costs by about $120 to $180 per season.Shooting clubs funded by the NRA Foundation have also opened up college scholarship opportunities for students.At Sutter Union High School, 20 students have received scholarships to train at Olympic training centers and participate in college-level competitions across the country.“The nature of the sport attracts highly motivated and dedicated students,” Robison said. “It is a very technical activity and requires a high level of concentration and discipline.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Protest movements continue five years after Black Lives Matter

first_imgBrian Blanco/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — After a grand jury acquitted George Zimmerman in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin in July 2013, Patrisse Cullors, Alicia Garza and Opal Tometi created #BlackLivesMatter to start a broader conversation about racism in the U.S.Five years later, issues brought to the national fore by the grassroots organization have become staples of progressive platforms. From Parkland to #AbolishICE, there is a direct through line to calls to hold government accountable for gun violence and the treatment of minority communities, political experts say.“The movement is growing. Its influence on American politics is growing,” said Deva Woodly, an assistant professor of politics at The New School. “Not only has it shifted the attention of activists, but also the public at large.”Much of that influence has been in shifting conversations on race and the role of protests in politics.“It has popularized civil disobedience and the need to put our bodies on the line,” Cullors said. “With things like the Women’s March, and Me Too, and March for our Lives, all of these movements — their foundations — are in Black Lives Matter.”Black Lives Matter has also attracted backlash, including from President Trump. On Fox News in July 26, Trump, who was then running for office, said, “I’ve seen them marching down the street, essentially calling death to the police, and I think we’re going to have to look into that.”In November 2017, Attorney General Jeff Sessions was grilled by black members of Congress on the House Judiciary Committee for an FBI report on “black identity extremists,” seen to target Black Lives Matter.As a member of the Senate in 2015, Sessions once said, “I do think it’s a real problem when we have Black Lives Matter making statements that are really radical, that are absolutely false.”Cullors said their message and their movement was one designed to be active online and to mobilize protests in the streets.The movement’s online presence has been critical to its impact and growth over the last five years. A recent report from the Pew Research Center found that #BlackLivesMatter has been tweeted nearly 30 million times since 2013, an average of 17,002 times a day.“That hashtag is recognizable. That hashtag evokes something, I think, in the spirit of all people — not just here in America but around the world,” said Sonia Lewis, the lead of the Sacramento chapter of Black Lives Matter and the cousin of Stephon Clark, who was killed in a police-involved shooting this March.On the street, Black Lives Matter has both sustained protests around police violence and has shaped the principles of more recent protest movements.And the movement’s work has reverberated far beyond urban enclaves that have often seen the tension between law enforcement and minority communities play out.Delaney Tarr, of the March for Our Lives protests that stemmed from gun control protests after the mass shooting in Parkland, said Black Lives Matter has been something she’s “incredibly conscious of.”“No matter who the perpetrator is, gun violence is still gun violence,” she added, saying that the lessons from Black Lives Matter have been something her movement has factored in because “we really wanted to be as intersectional as possible.”In addition to protests, Woodly said Black Lives Matter has been instrumental in “changing people’s minds about what’s possible and desirable.”According to Gallup’s most recent Most Important Problem poll, Americans rank immigration and race relations as the third and fourth biggest issues facing the country, a shift from five years ago, Woodly said.Black Lives Matter helped popularize some of today’s more liberal policy positions. “The call to abolish ICE is connected to the call to abolish police and prisons,” Woodly said.Adrian Reyna, the director of membership and technology strategies at United We Dream, a youth lead immigrant rights organization, echoed that sentiment.“They have really set the ground to be able to push back against federal agencies like ICE and CBP, who are basically executing the agenda of putting as many people into the deportation pipeline and into detention centers,” he said.The Movement for Black Lives platform, released in 2016 by a coalition that included 50 activist groups related to Black Lives Matter, calls for single-payer health care and the legalization of marijuana, in addition to an end of mass incarceration and police violence toward black people.Cullors said there are “so many different” elected officials who are challenging the status quo right now, calling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s recent election “a testament to our movement.”Kerri Evelyn Harris, who is running for Senate in Delaware on a progressive platform, said Black Lives Matter has “made sure that we had to recognize things that for so long that we’ve turned a blind eye to.”As for the future of Black Lives Matter, Cullors said the organization is “in the middle of an evolution.”“For the last five years, we’ve been on the streets. We’ve been protesting. We’ve been shutting down highways,” she said. “And now, we have to ground down and decide what are the strategies, what’s our institution going to look like.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Allentown car bomb that killed two men and a child ruled a murder-suicide

first_imgWPVI-TV(ALLENTOWN, Pa.) — A Pennsylvania man who died on Saturday night in a car explosion with his 2-year-old son and his friend planned the explosion in a premeditated murder-suicide plot, officials announced Thursday.Earlier this week, authorities had confirmed that the child, Jonathan Schmoyer, his father Jacob Schmoyer, 27, and friend David Hallman, 66, all from Allentown, were killed in the blast.On Thursday, officials showed new photos of the wreckage that indicated where the bomb was placed and identified Schomoyer as the killer.“It is the collective assessment of the entire investigative team that this was an intentional act, a murder-suicide, an intentional act by Jacob Schmoyer,” Special Agent Don Robinson of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearm (ATF) said at a press conference Thursday.Schmoyer sent a series of letters to his family and the Allentown Police Department indicating his intentions to commit suicide and identifying whom he planned to kill in the blast, authorities said, but the letters weren’t received until Wednesday and Thursday of this week.Investigators discovered an improvised explosive device inside the car, Robinson said. Schmoyer’s body was found in the driver’s seat, Hallman’s in the passenger’s seat, and Schmoyer’s son in a car seat in the back, behind the driver’s seat.“He was very unhappy with his life,” Robinson said. “[He] described himself in some negative terms, admitted to a number of criminal acts from petty theft to burglary to other criminal acts that he had committed along the way — and indicated that he was not going to stick around.”“Unfortunately, in these letters, he intended to take Mr. Hallman and his son with him.”Robinson said that officials still do not know why Schmoyer targeted Hallman.“We’ve also determined that there is no further risk to the public. We are confident Schmoyer acted alone. He’s not involved in any groups.”Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Paradise students displaced by deadly Camp Fire head back to school

first_imgiStock/Thinkstock(OROVILLE, Calif.) — Students displaced by the Camp Fire in Paradise, California, are returning to school for the first time since the deadly fire leveled most of their town. Paradise Elementary students will be attending classes today in Oroville, about 20 miles south of Paradise, where nearly 30,000 residents were forced to relocate after the wildfire.Students at the town’s five other schools also will be bused to nearby towns for classes, the Paradise Unified School District said in a statement. Nearly all the necessary school supplies, including backpacks, have been donated. “Through everything that we have all been through, the one thing we wanted to make sure we could see through is that our students be reunited with their PUSD teachers,” the district’s statement said. “We assure you that, even through our own trauma, we have been working to keep this promise to you.“We have done the best we can with what we have to work with at this time, without compromising a safe and acceptable learning environment.” School officials expect attendance levels to come in around 50 percent due to the amount of families displaced by the Camp Fire, considered the most destructive fire in state history. The fire burned for 18 days, destroyed thousands of homes and structures, and killed at least 85 people before it was contained Nov. 25. School officials will have “experts in trauma and social emotional support” for students and staff at each school.“Once the kids are back in school and have their schedule going, similar to what it was before, it will be nice to try to get our life back to somewhat normal,” Lana Bunch, a parent who lost her home in Paradise, told ABC affiliate KGO.Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Texas man arrested after allegedly killing three young children, shooting woman in the head

first_imgTexas City Police Department(TEXAS CITY, Texas) — Police arrested a Texas man who allegedly murdered three young children and shot a woman in the head Thursday.Junaid Mehmood, 27, allegedly killed an infant and two children — believed to be 2 years old and 5 years old — at a Texas City apartment complex and left a woman there to die, according to police.Police discovered the victims at the Pointe Ann Apartments in Texas City, Texas, about 40 miles southeast of Houston, while responding to a welfare concern at around 6:15 p.m., the Texas City Police Department said in a statement.The children were pronounced dead on the scene and the woman was rushed to a nearby hospital, according to the statement. The department didn’t disclose the woman’s identity, or her relationship to the children, but said she was in stable condition.The children’s causes of death has not been released.Mehmood was apprehended in Houston after a brief manhunt late Thursday night.Police records indicate that he’d been arrested multiple times, charged with fraud, robbery, assault and drug possession. He was charged with fraud in Galveston County in February 2010 and received five years probation. In 2014, he was charged with family assault and spent 20 days in confinement. After a robbery conviction in 2015 he was sentenced to three years in jail.It’s unclear if Mehmood has obtained an attorney. Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Wave of teachers’ strikes pressure states, school boards to change tune

first_imgAl Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images(OAKLAND, Calif.) —  Having seen teachers score victories in Los Angeles, Denver and a string of states in their fights for higher wages and better working conditions, more than 3,000 educators in Oakland, California, have voted to go on strike this week.“Oakland teachers cannot afford to live in Oakland,” Keith Brown, president of the Oakland Education Association, said during a news conference on Saturday. “One out of five leaves each year. Five-hundred classrooms are left with inexperienced teachers.”Teachers voted overwhelmingly to walk off their jobs on Thursday, Brown said.To stem the tide of teachers exiting the Oakland Unified School District, which has more than 37,000 students, the union is asking for a 12 percent raise over three years, smaller class sizes and more support staff.The school district is offering a 5 percent raise, retroactive to when the union’s contract expired in July 2017.The union and the school district began bargaining on a new contract in December 2016, but after 30 negotiating sessions encompassing 200 hours of bargaining, an impasse was declared on May 18, 2018. Both sides agreed to mediation, but that failed to break the stalemate.School District Superintendent Kyla Johnson-Trammell said she is still hopeful that an agreement can be reached to avoid the first teachers’ strike in Oakland in 23 years.“Despite our challenges, we are prepared with a comprehensive proposal to reach an agreement,” Johnson-Trammell said in a statement over the weekend. “If both sides are committed to settling the contract before a strike occurs — and we are — an agreement can certainly be reached without disrupting the educational experience for students, families and staff.”Wave of teachers’ strikesIf Oakland teachers walk out of classrooms this week and hit the picket lines, the job action will become the latest in a string of public school teacher strikes that have swept the nation in the past 12 months.The wave of teachers strikes started in West Virginia, where one year ago this week more than 20,000 teachers across the state walked off the job and formed picket lines for nearly two weeks before Gov. Jim Justice signed a bill granting educators and other state employees a 5 percent pay raise.Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said the West Virginia strike was a game changer that inspired teachers across the nation.“I don’t like when people say, ‘Well if they can do it in West Virginia, we can do it’ because that is really insulting to West Virginia. But it is a sense that they saw themselves with it. It inspired them and they saw that they could do it too,” Weingarten told ABC News.On the heels of the success of West Virginia teachers, educators in Oklahoma, Kentucky and Arizona also went on strike for higher pay and better working conditions.“What’s happened in all these places is over the course of the last 10 to 15 years is that people have tried to make good schools and students front and center have gotten demeaned, disparaged, called names, schools have been divested,” Weingarten said. “And so what has happened … is a sense of possibility that when you join together you can indeed be stronger together, but you have to join together on a mission that the community really adopts.”$100 billion public schools billEarlier this month, Weingarten and other education leaders testified at hearings held by the House Education and Labor Committee on a bill that would pump $100 billion into the nation’s public schools over the next decade.According to briefing materials presented to the committee, teachers earn just 77 percent of what other college graduates make. With inflation factored in, public school teachers pay plummeted by $30 a week from 1996 to 2015, according to the briefing materials.“The reason why this strike wave has occurred is because teacher pay and benefits and working conditions have gotten so bad. It’s not that unions have gotten so strong,” Kenneth Dau-Schmidt, a labor and employment law professor at Indiana University’s Maurer School of Law, told ABC News.Dau-Schmidt noted that the wave of strikes started in states with the lowest paid teacher in the nation that have no comprehensive collective bargaining statutes, meaning their school budgets are set by state legislatures and not local school boards like in Los Angeles and Denver.He said in states like West Virginia, Oklahoma, Arizona and Kentucky, strikes by teachers are considered illegal and educators risked being fired for participating in them. But because teachers in those states showed solidarity in their job actions, state government leaders had little choice but to bargain.“The problem is their compensation got so far behind the market that the teachers felt they had to do something and the school boards, even if they had wanted to discharge all those teachers couldn’t have possibly replaced them all because they’re offering substandard wages,” Dau-Schmidt said.“It wouldn’t have been possible to replace all those teachers at once with quality replacements in a market that’s tight because fewer people are going to be trained to be teachers now because the word is out that the compensation is not that good,” he said.Parent supportSince the string of strikes began, some states have moved to compensate teachers to head off strikes.“We see that a little bit in Indiana here where our governor has offered to pay off some of the pension liability so that would free up money for the school boards to give teachers raises for the next two years,” Dau-Schmidt said.Both Weingarten and Dau-Schmidt said that in most of the job actions parents have been on the side of the teachers.“I think you’ve seen a lot of parent support for the strikers so far because parents realize the teacher is the third most important person in the world to each child after the mom and the dad, and they want good people there,” Dau-Schmidt said. “They want them to be able to do their job and they want them to be adequately compensated. The only way to have good people doing a professional job is to treat them like professionals and pay them like professionals and give them decent working conditions.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Rescuers recover diver who disappeared while exploring underwater cave

first_imgCourtesy Chuck Sutherland(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) — A highly experienced British diver who went missing as he explored an underwater cave east of Nashville, Tennessee has been rescued.The diver was identified Wednesday night as Josh Bratchley, a British member of the elite international team that helped rescue 12 soccer players and their coach from a Thailand cave in July. Specially trained divers entered the water at approximately 6 p.m. to search for Bratchley, who was rescued at 6:58 p.m., officials said in a statement.Bratchley is said to be in good health and good spirits, according to Bill Whitehouse of the British Cave Rescue Council.He was evaluated by medical crews on the scene and found to be stable, officials said.On Wednesday, a 911 call came in at 1:17 a.m. that Bratchley, who’d been diving at the Mill Pond Cave, had disappeared, Jackson County Emergency Management Agency said.Bratchley had traveled to the U.S. with a group from the U.K. specifically to explore the cave that’s only reachable under water.The group of experienced divers had been staying in the area for the last two or three days, said Ethan Burris, a public information officer for the Jackson County Emergency Management Agency.“There had been previous mapping of the cave by Tennessee Tech University and there (were) some air pockets that had been identified, I believe, previously that the diver was aware of so it’s a very good possibility that he would seek that out once he found himself in distress,” Jackson County EMA Public Information Officer Derek Woolbright said during a news conference Wednesday. “This individual is known to be very experienced in this kind of thing.”“This dive is roughly 400 feet. … It is tight passage,” said Hamilton County Rescue Squad Lt. Brian Krebs during a news conference Wednesday.Burris said that on Tuesday Bratchley had been diving and exploring the cave with a group of about five people. It was not clear whether the group was in the cave together or taking turns, he said.Bratchley went missing between 3 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tuesday. He’d been reportedly laying guideline when others noticed he hadn’t returned. Divers in his team attempted to rescue him for several hours but couldn’t find him.“The group made an additional dive attempt to locate the missing individual prior to contacting 911. This attempt was unsuccessful in locating him,” Burris said in a news release. “The missing individual is known to have extensive training and experience in this area of expertise.”The cave has dry air pockets inside, he said. The missing diver was wearing a dry suit and air tank, authorities said.The British Cave Rescue Council told ABC News Wednesday that it was contemplating scrambling a rescue team. A U.S. rescue team comprising of specialized rescue divers from Arkansas and Florida were already on their way to the Mill Pond Cave.The water was said to be a cold 55 degrees.Krebs said Wednesday that there is an “airbell” in the cave system that was large enough for a diver to climb into and that held sufficient air to survive for a period of time greater than 24 hours.Bratchley was located in the “airbell” when he was rescued.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Coyote’s violent pursuit of young girl caught on camera in family’s front yard

first_imgkarlumbriaco/iStock(VILLA PARK, Ill.) — A little girl in Illinois had a run-in with a coyote and her family’s home surveillance camera captured the close encounter.Christine Przybylski, 5, ran down the driveway in hopes of retrieving her Halloween costume from the mail and came back empty-handed, but still got a scare.The surveillance video showed a coyote lurking as Christine ran around the family’s Villa Park front yard outside Chicago.“I just skipped out the door and I went to the mailbox,” she told ABC Chicago station WLS. “I decided to go to the swing and when I went to the swing he [ran] by — I was like ‘Oh my God.’”As she ran away from the swing, the coyote circled the swing and charged straight at her.The wild animal came so close that the young girl said, “I feeled it’s ear and it like almost bited my rib.”She managed to run up the stairs of the home’s front deck and inside to tell her mom.“We heard her scream and she came in with this wild story,” her mother Elizabeth Przybylski said of her daughter, who emphatically repeated that she had seen a coyote.“He really pursued her violently,” she added, after they watched back the footage. “I’m so glad she got away.”The concerned mom said Christine will be accompanied while playing in the front yard from now on and neighbors believe that the coyotes live in a nearby wooded area.Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Video captures woman slip at Grand Canyon, nearly fall off ledge

first_imgCourtesy Kevin Fox(PHOENIX) — A Texas woman narrowly escaped a terrifying fall at the Grand Canyon after she slipped and almost stepped off a ledge.Emily Koford, 20, was hiking at the Arizona attraction on Monday with her mom Erin when the two went to a rock near the edge of the rim for a photo.Erin Koford was standing near the edge when her daughter began backing up with the camera, still facing her mom, trying to get a full-body shot.“She kept going backwards. I looked out and I saw how close she was to the edge and I said, ‘don’t take another step back,’ and she did,” Erin Koford told ABC News on Friday.“My stomach went up into my chest,” she said when she saw her daughter stumble.Emily Koford’s foot stepped off the ledge, onto a lower rock, and she managed to catch her balance using her hands.The ordeal was caught on video by a passerby who noticed the two posing on the rock and wanted to show his kids “the stuff you don’t do.”“Then they’re walking around and I think, this doesn’t look good,” Kevin Fox, who took the video, told ABC News on Friday. “As she starts walking backwards, I just gasp.”Erin Koford said her daughter, who is from Austin but attends school around the Grand Canyon, assumed her mom was telling her not to step back anymore for the photo, not realizing it was for her safety.“I don’t think she was really aware of how dangerous that was. I could see exactly what would happen if she fell,” her mom said.Both are grateful that nothing worse happened, and are using the opportunity to be as careful as possible next time.“We’ll probably go back to the Grand Canyon,” Erin Koford said, “but we probably won’t do that again.”While dying from heat or dehydration is more common than falling off the edge in the Grand Canyon, it is still a “major concern,” according to the Grand Canyon’s website. About 12 deaths happen each year, with two to three from falls over the rim, according to park spokeswoman Kirby-Lynn Shedlowski.Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.last_img read more

Boy allegedly forced to urinate in front of classroom, made to wear garbage bags

first_imgRicks Moulton/iStock(LOS ANGELES) — A lawsuit filed by the parents of an 8-year-old boy alleges that a teacher disallowed their son to use the bathroom and made him pee into a trashcan in front of his classmates before he urinated on himself, soaking his clothes in the process.The incident happened last November when the boy was attending Manhattan Place Elementary School in South Los Angeles in the Los Angeles Unified School District when he initially approached his teacher to use the bathroom and was told that he was not allowed. He then allegedly approached the teacher a second time and was told to pee in the trashcan, according to ABC News’ Los Angeles station KABC.“Instead of just letting him go, the teacher told him to urinate in a trashcan that was in the classroom and in front of his classmates,” said the family’s attorney Toni Jaramilla in a press conference last week.The suit says that he urinated on himself during that process and soaked his clothes and, later that day, went to his after-school enrichment program where the incident was made worse by another employee.“He went to another teacher to try to receive help and she proceeded to place a garbage bag on him to make an example out of him of what you should not do at school, instead of calling us and saying ‘can you please bring him a change of clothes,’” said the boy’s mother Sonia Mongol at the press conference.“That employee, for whatever reason, placed two trash bags on the boy which caused further embarrassment,” said Jaramilla.The suit alleges that a third incident happened 4 months later in March of this year when the boy asked a substitute teacher to use that bathroom and then locked him out of the classroom.The boy has been transferred out of Manhattan Place Elementary to another school but his mother says he still talks about the incident.“He doesn’t understand why when he went to adults for help they would do this to him, so it’s had a lasting effect on him,” Mongol said.Mongol also said she was never notified about the incident by the school and is seeking damages for extreme negligence and creating a hostile environment.“There really needs to be some kind of training and sensitivity — and just compliance — with what the school board implements, or puts out there, with regards to allowing access to bathrooms,” Jaramilla said.The school district says it notified law enforcement when it first learned of the allegation and is conducting an administrative investigation, according to KABC.The district added in a statement obtained by KABC that while it does not comment on pending litigation, “the Los Angeles Unified School District remains committed to ensuring the safety and well-being of all students.”Copyright © 2019, ABC Audio. All rights reservelast_img read more