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Lansing Catholic High School Posts Racist, Anti-Semitic Photo
On Thursday, Lansing Catholic High School posted a 1978 photo of students making a Nazi salute, including one wearing KKK robes, in a #ThrowbackThursday post on its Facebook page. The photo was hastily removed, but screenshots have been widely shared. The school's President, Dominic Iocco, issued a statement on Facebook on Thursday afternoon claiming that he was informed it was a photo of "the Class of 1979 taking part in a theatrical production set in Ancient Rome," which it was not (it was a photograph of a Halloween assembly in 1978). He states "The photograph clearly shows students making the Roman salute which was later adopted in the 20th century by both fascist Italy and Nazi Germany." There is no reason to refer to it as a "Roman salute" or mention its history, other than to distract readers and make it appear to be something potentially innocent - the photo was taken in 1978, more than 50 years after the gesture became universally associated with fascism and Nazis, and should be referred to directly as such (there is also no consensus that the gesture was ever used in ancient Rome). He goes on to say that "It also seems to depict a student dressed in the garb of the notoriously racist and anti-Catholic organization, the Ku Klux Klan." The student is very clearly wearing a KKK robe (or a costume deliberately created to look like one, complete with blood drop cross and hood), despite Iocco's attempt to again obscure the facts by stating that it merely "seems to depict" (rather than "clearly shows," as was stated in the prior sentence about the "Roman salute"). He also states that it "does not, in any way, reflect who we are as a school community," despite many public claims to the contrary, including the notorious benching four students who planned to kneel during the national anthem to protest racism and police brutality in 2017.
In a follow-up statement from the LCHS President and Board of Trustees, the school acknowledged the actual source of the photo, but still fell short of acknowledging what it depicts, stating "someone is wearing what any reasonable person would assume is the garb of the KKK," rather than simply stating that they are wearing the garb of the KKK, and not just what someone could assume is that. The social media manager has reportedly been put on “administrative leave” while an investigation is conducted.
The photo shows that the school endorsed the racism and anti-semitism of students in the 1970s (the photo was taken at an assembly and was printed in the 1979 yearbook) and posting it to social media in 2021 shows that those problems are far from gone. The school also has a new anti-trans policy, which you can find more details on by reading the corresponding story on this page.
"Lansing Catholic apologizes for photo of students in KKK garb performing Nazi salute"
"Four Lansing Catholic players benched for planning to kneel during anthem"
LCHS President’s Apology:
Catholic Diocese of Lansing Continues with Anti-Trans Policy
The Catholic Diocese of Lansing (which includes Lansing Catholic High School, which recently posted a racist, anti-semitic photo on Facebook) published a dangerous and aggressive anti-trans and anti-nonbinary policy on January 15th. Some notable excerpts include:
"All school students and their parents will be addressed and referred to with pronouns in accord with their God-given biological sex"
"The Diocese opposes any transgender therapies or surgeries that are undertaken with the intent of helping a person ‘transition’ away from his or her biological sex"
"All students will use bathrooms and locker rooms that correspond with their God-given biological sex"
"Students will participate in competitive athletics in accord with their God-given biological sex"
In a follow-up statement published earlier this week about a new video training on the policy, the Diocese doubled down on its hatred and transphobia, saying it created the training to give "staff and volunteers the capability and confidence to safeguard those in their care from contemporary gender ideologies such as 'transgenderism'.” The Diocese also made clear that the new guidelines “merely confirm and clarify our existing practice.” In order to show public support for the policy, the press release quotes two anti-trans activists with no connection to the Lansing community: a Deacon from Alabama (who they refer to as "the eminent reconstructive surgeon, Dr. Patrick Lappert M.D.," without ever referencing his position in the Catholic Church) and a New York-based writer for The New Republic, a right-wing U.S. magazine (referred to as "British journalist Madeleine Kearns").
"Diocese of Lansing Gender Identity Policy: A Briefing by Jenny Ingles"
"Love, Truth & Authentic Happiness: A new policy on the Human Person and Gender Dysphoria"
U.S. Reaches 500,000 COVID-19 Deaths; Biden Extends National Emergency
As of last Sunday, the U.S. passed half a million deaths due to COVID-19. To date, more than 20% of COVID-19 deaths worldwide have been in the United States, despite the country having less than 5% of the world population. There is nothing inherent in the geography, population size, or genetics of the US that makes our country more vulnerable - the high number of deaths is due to decisions by government leadership not to take measures that would have prevented deaths, and rhetoric from many of those leaders that convinced people to ignore science. COVID-19 was the leading cause of death in the United States last month.
On Wednesday, President Biden continued the National Emergency originally declared on March 13, 2020 regarding the COVID-19 pandemic. “The COVID-19 pandemic continues to cause significant risk to the public health and safety of the Nation…For this reason, the national emergency...must continue in effect.” He also ordered flags to be flown at half-staff for five days on all federal buildings in recognition of the 500,000 deaths to date.
"'A Loss To The Whole Society': U.S. COVID-19 Death Toll Reaches 500,000"
"COVID-19 Now Leading Cause of Death in the United States"
"Notice on the Continuation of the National Emergency Concerning the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Pandemic "
Ingham County Residents Encouraged to Register for COVID-19 Vaccine with Multiple Providers
The Ingham County Health Department recently released a statement that encourages residents who are currently eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine to register for it with multiple providers.
"In addition to the Ingham County Health Department (ICHD), both Sparrow Health System and McLaren Greater Lansing are vaccinating Ingham County residents against COVID-19. People who are currently eligible for the vaccine but waiting for an appointment are encouraged to register with these providers in addition to Rite Aid and Meijer, which are likely to begin offering the vaccine more broadly in the area soon."
"People who secure multiple appointments are strongly encouraged to cancel unwanted appointments. They should also be aware that both doses of the two-dose vaccine must come from the same provider."
To register for COVID-19 vaccinations:
Ingham County Health Department: https://tinyurl.com/CoVaxRegistration or 517-887-4623
Sparrow Health System: https://www.sparrow.org/vaccine
McLaren Health System: https://www.mclaren.org/main/coronavirus-vaccine
Rite Aid: http://ritea.id/michigan
Currently, those eligible are people age 65 and older, health care workers, long-term care residents and staff, front-line essential workers, childcare and pre-K through high school staff, and congregate care facilities.
"Health department encourages residents to register for COVID-19 vaccine with multiple providers"
Free Transportation to Get COVID-19 Vaccine in Lansing Area
Local transit providers are providing free transportation for residents in the Lansing area to get their COVID-19 vaccination to those with a confirmed vaccine appointment.
CATA (Ingham County): 517-394-2282
Clinton Transit (Clinton County): 989-224-8127
EATRAN (Eaton County): 517-543-4087
ICHD Facebook Post:
Biden Administration Changes to Immigration
In the past week, there has been significant media coverage around the Biden administration’s immigration practices.
On Tuesday, a federal judge in Texas indefinitely banned the administration from enforcing a 100-day moratorium on most deportations. President Biden included in his campaign proposing a 100-day pause on deportations in order to review and reverse the Trump administration’s immigration policies and practices. The judge, a Trump appointee, ruled that the pause violates federal law on administrative procedure and failed to justify why the pause was necessary. It is unclear if the administration will appeal this ruling.
On Thursday, the administration rolled out new instructions to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) that temporarily restricts the causes agents can use for initiating deportation based on being a public safety threat. This restriction will be in effect for up to 90 days while long-term guidelines are developed. The temporary guidelines allow for deportation of those who are considered a national security threat due to terrorism or espionage or those who illegally crossed the border after November 1, 2020. The guidelines also create more oversight for agents, requiring them to seek approval from supervisors before deporting individuals who do not meet the new criteria. In addition, the guidelines expect agents to exercise their discretion and weigh factors, such as seriousness of the criminal activity, criminal history, personal or family circumstances, health or medical factors, ties to the community, and evidence of rehabilitation, before starting deportation processes. The ACLU has pushed back on these guidelines saying that the injustices of the criminal justice system will lead to disproportionate deportations of Black and Brown individuals and perpetuate the same harm as years passed.
This week also saw the re-opening of an overflow facility for unaccompanied migrant children in Texas. The Department of Health and Human Services and the Biden administration are re-opening the facility to accommodate the increase in unaccompanied minors crossing the border. The goal is to prevent children from staying at Customs and Border Protection holding facilities that were built to hold adults for a short period of time. The COVID-19 pandemic has limited capacity of the government to house children due to social distancing and safety guidelines. While the administration and DHHS state that this facility allows access to mental and physical health services, appropriate amount of meals and snacks, and recreation facilities, there are concerns that this is not an improvement over Trump-era immigration practices. Last March, the Trump administration suspended previous policies that required the transfer of unaccompanied minors within three days to the the Office of Refugee Resettlement that is within DHHS, in order to deport minors without a court hearing or an asylum interview. While the Biden administration is still using public health authority to deport single adults or families with children, they have protected unaccompanied minors from this practice. Despite the Biden administration stating they are trying to mitigate as much damage and harm to children as possible, there has been push-back that this is still putting children in cages.
Biden's Attorney General Nominee Calls Violence Against Black Trans Women "Hate Crimes"
Merrick Garland, President Biden's nominee for Attorney General stated his intention to combat violence against Black trans women during a confirmation hearing earlier this week. During the hearing, Senator Cory Booker of New Jersey asked, "Is this something that you will make a priority - to protect all children from violence and discrimination, particularly in this case...transgender children, and would you also commit to taking seriously the targeting of transgender adults, specifically with the trend we're seeing with the alarming numbers of murders of Black transgender women?" Garland responded: "These are hate crimes, and it's the job of the Justice Department to stop this" and that "it's clear to me that this kind of hateful activity has to stop, and yes, we need to put resources into it."
Garland was famously nominated by President Obama to fill a Supreme Court vacancy in 2016, but was blocked by Republicans.
"Biden’s DOJ Pick Vows to Fight Epidemic of Violence Against Black, Trans Women"
Whistleblower: A Software Bug Keeps People In Prison Beyond Release Dates
This week, whistleblowers with connections to the Arizona Department of Corrections stated that hundreds of individuals who were eligible for release were still being held due to a software bug. The whistleblowers claim that the inmate management software cannot interpret current sentencing laws, which the Department of Corrections confirmed. The whistleblowers also state that they have been raising this issue for over a year, but administrators have not worked to correct the problem. In 2019, Arizon passed a law that amended the Arizona Revised Statutes so that people convicted of nonviolent offenses could earn additional release credits upon completion of certain programming. The software is currently unable to account for the amendment of this state law, and therefore it is not able to identify who is eligible for this programming and it is not able to calculate the proper release date for individuals who do complete the program. Employees sent a report to leadership in October of last year detailing the software issues, but leadership has not fixed the software. Instead, employees are attempting to identify individuals who qualify. So far the department has identified 733 individuals who are potentially eligible but are currently not enrolled in the program, but sources say this is barely scratching the surface of those who are eligible. Whistleblowers say that the only individuals who are getting into the program are those who already know they qualify or those with people on the outside who are advocating for them. While this is a huge problem, there have also been 14,000 bugs reported since the implementation of the software in November of 2019. Some of the issues that have been reported with the software are tracking health care, head counts, individual's property, commissary and financial accounts, religious affiliation, and security classification. Sources say that leadership instructed employees to not speak on the concerns because there had been too much money spent on the implementation of the software. Focusing on the amount of money spent on the software instead of the lives and well-being of individuals imprisoned continues to perpetuate harm and strip people of their protected freedoms.
Warning: COVID-19 Phone Scam Reported
In Michigan, there have been reports of a phone scam circulating under the guise of scheduling COVID-19 vaccine appointments. The Oakland County Sheriff’s office has released a warning with regards to this scam. They note that “Oakland County will never ask for any financial information including credit card or Social Security numbers.” If you are concerned that you or some of your loved ones may be targets of this scan, please let them know not to share similar personal information.
To find or verify vaccination sites in Michigan, visit https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_103214_104822---,00.html or call the Michigan COVID hotline at 888-535-6136.
COVID-19 Vaccine Information and Resources
Below are links that provide general information about COVID-19 vaccines, an explanation of how they work, and common questions and answers, as well as multilingual fact sheets. Whether it is in the form of an informational website or a comic, we hope they can help!
Ingham County has provided a COVID-19 vaccination fact sheet in several different languages detailing the vaccination phases, side effects, and a reminder to continue to partake in other prevention measures along with some other information. The fact sheet is offered in Arabic, English, French, Kinyarwanda, Nepali, Somali, Spanish, and Swahili. To access the sheets, go to the following link and select the appropriate language under the “General Fact Sheet” heading: http://hd.ingham.org/DepartmentalDirectory/CommunicableDisease/Coronavirus(COVID19).aspx#8789307-vaccine-information.
Finally, the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS) held their second COVID-19 vaccine town hall, specifically focused on communities of color. The recording is at https://fb.watch/3WWN_Mw9fj/
Questions that were not answered during the town hall will be reviewed and added to the information at https://www.michigan.gov/coronavirus/0,9753,7-406-98178_103214---,00.html
Michigan Announces Pilot Program to Remove COVID-19 Vaccine Barriers for Vulnerable Seniors
The state of Michigan announced "a new program to help enhance the state's vaccine equity strategy" on Tuesday.
"The goal of the new pilot program is to help remove barriers to vaccine access for Michiganders 60 and older who live in communities with high Social Vulnerability Index (SVI) and high COVID-19 mortality rates. SVI is a tool that uses census data to identify places where a community may have more difficulty preventing human suffering and financial loss in a disaster. It assesses the extent that 15 known indicators are present within a community based on socioeconomic status, family composition and disability, minority status and language, housing and transportation."
"Michigan providers that are federally enrolled to administer COVID-19 vaccines" can apply by March 1st "if they can help remove barriers for those ages 60 and up who are most vulnerable to the effects of the virus. Applicants accepted into the community outreach pilot project can request up to 2,500 doses."
"New Pilot Program Helps Enhance State's Vaccine Equity Strategy"