Category Archives: Scranton

Being Afraid of The Police as a Law-Abiding White Woman

I’m afraid of the police. No lie: I’ve been afraid of the police for the past 10+ years due to witnessing police brutality and abuse of power. Over the past few years I have worked on this, but there is still an unconscious response of anxiety when I happen to be in a convenient store and a police officer walks in, or when I’m driving down the road and a cop car pulls in behind me, or when I witness a cop pulling over someone else, or when I have to talk to the police for any reason.

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How is this not frightening to see coming down your street?

This shouldn’t be the case, and certainly one would think that a young white woman wouldn’t have a fear of police… but I do. And the more and more the police forces become militarized, the more and more I worry about abuses of power. My town recently had a “Police Appreciation Parade” and my house sits on the parade route (legit, my town has like 20 parades a year, and they are all in front of my house. I never thought I would hate parades until I moved here). So, the police force in my town has a lot of money that is partially funded by a huge, stinky landfill that you can smell from my back yard (and I’m about 4 miles from it). So the police have a lot of toys. The parade scared the crap out of me. Police vehicle after police vehicle set off all of their freaking ridiculously loud sirens, with officers armed in heavy duty SWAT team armor and heavy duty, scarily huge guns (I’m sorry I don’t know anything about guns. These looked like big machine weapon guns). The alarms were so ridiculously loud, and really scared me, and my poor dog. They weren’t just the regular police siren, but were the alarms that were the high pitch beep and the one that says “This is not a test” and stuff like “Stay in your houses, we are on lockdown”. All I could think about was how re-traumatizing this probably was for veterans and people who have been in warzones. The end of the parade had camouflaged humvees and other war vehicles. The only thing that makes living on a parade route tolerable is the candy thrown to those watching the parade. Needless to say, there was no candy being thrown for “Police Appreciation Day”.

Now listen. I realize that most police officers are good people, people who want to legitimately make the world a better place, and for these people, I can’t express my gratitude. I cannot imagine what it is like going into a job knowing that you could encounter dangerous situations, that maybe this is the day you don’t come home. I also can’t imagine the stress police officers are going through, knowing that now people are watching their every move and the blanket of criticism that has been laid on the police force since Ferguson (well, I mean, really since reconstruction, but Ferguson seems to be the easier chapter to look at for millennials to understand the effects of authoritarian policing and stigmatized racism).

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True Dat

How I’ve dealt with my anxiety of police officers is consciously working on turning this fear into love. When cops pass me multiple times while walking my dog, I wave. I say hello when they’re drinking their coffee in the corner store. And I have a friend who is a police officer, and this helps me personalize police officers and reconfirm my belief that there are many good, hardworking police officers who just want to make the world a better place and improve their community. It’s unfortunate when one bad banana spoils the public opinion of the rest of the bunch, however, I can talk from experience, that after seeing police brutality up close I gained a strong distrust for police. I think this is appropriate though. If the only interaction I have with police is negative, then of course my view of all police are going to be tainted. So when there are police departments that support a culture of racism and authoritarianism, of course people in those communities are going to have a hard time believing that the harmful police methods (ie: stop and frisk) will cease.

Just thought I’d keep it short and sweet. In conclusion: wear your seatbelt and download Waze while driving, and try to think of police officers as your equal, not someone who should be feared. Easier said than done.

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What I Learned from Spending One Day w/ the Green Party

green party pic

Monday evening I attended the first meeting of the Lackawanna County Green Party. I’m not a registered Green Party member and am still part of the Young Democrats of Lackawanna County. However, after last night’s meeting, I sincerely am rethinking my political affiliation…

I have been learning about the Green Party only over the past month. I became interested when Jill Stein started showing increased polling and saw mainstream political articles sternly lecturing Bernie supporters that they better not support Stein. I did believe that Stein could hurt our country by aiding Trump by basically taking votes away from Clinton. This is a valid fear, however the mainstream media extremely exaggerates it. CNN, MSNBC, Politico, The Hill, WP, and NYT all have had some type of article where they demonized Bernie supporters who may be thinking of not supporting Clinton. In my opinion, this is a pretty shitty way of getting Bernie supporters to back the establishment that we have been fighting against.

So ANYWAYS. Monday night: I was at the Green Party meeting and Mr. Carl Romanelli spoke about his experience over the past 16 years as a Green Party member in NEPA and his run for US Senate in 2006. He spoke about the Green Party’s history which started in Germany in the 80s and spread throughout Europe. He also spoke about the Green Party’s history in NEPA and some of their accomplishments in the area, such as making the 7 Tubs in Luzerne County a public area.

I also met Jay Sweeney from Falls Township who is running for PA State Rep for the 112th District. Sweeney also has been active in the Green Party for the past 16 years and graciously gave me a copy of “The Green Pages”, the National Newspaper for the Green Party, which I wasn’t even aware of.

There were a lot of good take-aways from the meeting. Romanelli compared political parties to religion in the idea that almost everyone is born into one, but only through self-reflection and research can someone find the best fit. I see this a lot in some of my friends. They were raised a certain way, and to think differently, or attempt to explore different viewpoints is sacrilegious. Something else that Romanelli said which resonated with me was “America doesn’t so much need new ideas or pure hearts- we just need a new way of looking at things”. I agree with this wholeheartedly. I think a real change of perception, and a close examination of American values are crucial to our country’s fate of being the “land of the free”. A friend of mine, Alex Lotorto, explained the Green Party as the party that puts all social movements on the ballot.  I’ve been saying recently that I wish there was a “Progressive” party, and I think I found that affiliation last night.

green party group pic

look at these threatening people…

After the meeting I took a petition to get Jill Stein on the ballot in November in PA, and walked to a local bar to participate in their weekly trivia night. I thought this would be a good opportunity to gather signatures since this bar gets pretty busy. The first person I asked questioned me a lot, and asked me why I would try to get Stein on the ballot since it might help Trump. My response, which is my conviction, is that I really want to vote FOR someone, not AGAINST someone. I also want headway for the Green Party. WE NEED A THIRD PARTY. Things aren’t black and white. I’m fed up with establishment politics and am ready for a real change. I explained this in so many words.

Then I approached another friend who refused to sign it, saying that it would help Trump. I tried explaining that I see this effort as a way of gaining recognition for the Green Party, but she still didn’t want to sign. She said this was the first time she stood up for something, so I get it and respect her, and anyone else’s, refusal.

After an hour and a half into the night, I asked the woman next to me if she wouldn’t mind signing. This was a mistake. If I ever saw distinct party lines, it was within this conversation. She first accused me of not knowing what I was talking about, and that the Sanders’ campaign doesn’t teach its supporters how to answer questions. NOTE: She didn’t ask me any questions- this accusation was the first thing she said to me. I told her I respected her opinion and was happy to listen to her. She then continued to lecture me on not voting for Clinton because I should be supporting our first women president. This is an argument that I have a real issue with (ironically enough, I was asking for her help to get another WOMAN presidential candidate on the ballot) and deserves a blog post of its own. I can understand where this feeling comes from, but I can’t stand behind someone who I don’t believe in. This woman continued to question my intelligence and belittle me, and then reduced the Green Party to just a pro-marijuana group. I was happy to get out of the conversation as soon as possible.

This is the issue though. People are afraid of the unknown. America has had a two party system forever, adding a third (or a fourth! or a fifth!)  is a hard concept for people to swallow. But this is the route we need to go. Issues aren’t black and white, and our parties are as polarized as ever. There isn’t room right now within our political system for a revolution, which I believe is what we need. Our elected officials don’t live in the same reality of their constituents. There needs to be a change, and I believe supporting third party candidates is a good place to start. I haven’t changed my party affiliation yet, but the more and more backlash I get from within the Democratic Party makes me very tempted to do so. As someone who cares about real issues, not the surface value entertainment the media dishes up as news, the Green Party’s platform carries real weight.

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How to Vote 101 (Because Sometimes Its Scary To Ask These Things When Adulting)

Fellow Pennsylvanians, tomorrow is our primary. I have been anticipating this day since last year at this time (when Bernie announced he’d be running). Tomorrow is very important. Even if you’re not into politics, which is totally okay, I urge you to go vote if you’re registered.

How can you tell if you’re registered to vote in PA? How about finding where you’re polling place is?  Here’s the link that will tell you all of that. 

Maybe you know you’re registered and where to go already, but you’re nervous because you’ve never voted before. That’s totally okay. I know that it might seem scary and complicated, but it’s not. And if you’re someone who doesn’t like to ask questions to the people working at your polling location, I can guarantee that there are printed directions posted everywhere in the polling place on how to vote.

If you’re still nervous, I’ll tell you what goes down:

You show up to your polling place. You walk in. There will be a table and probably a little old lady sitting there with a signature book. She will ask your name. You’ll tell her. Then she’ll find your name in the book and have you sign it. If this is your first time voting you will need ID- a license, birth certificate, etc.  If it isn’t your first time, you don’t need anything (Although, I bring my ID just in case something fishy happens).  You’ll then get a paper ballot for your registered party and will be told to go to a little booth which has a curtain around it for privacy. Then you fill in the circle of the people you’re voting for. If you don’t know who to vote for for a particular race, say for example the Attorney General Race, feel free to just leave it blank (or vote randomly). When you’re done, there’s a printer looking machine that you feed your ballot into.

Its that easy. Seriously.

If you don’t know who to vote for and are registered as a democrat, I beg of you to vote for Bernie Sanders for US President and John Fetterman for US Senate. If you weren’t planning on voting, please reconsider. It’s one of the things that makes us American and one of the only ways to get our control back as a people. 

trix voting

voting’s really important

 

 

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How to identify heroin usage

After seeing a post about Narcan in Philly schools I thought I should write this blog post. Narcan is basically the antidote for heroin overdosages. If someone is in the state of overdosing, Narcan can block the opiates from continuing damage and can save their lives immediately. I know a few local social service agencies in Scranton now have this miracle drug, along with Scranton PD, at their disposal incase it warrants use. Now schools in Philadelphia are allowed to have their stock of it, which is sad that it is needed, but wonderful that they have access to it.

Northeastern PA has a long history with heroin, and it’s rare that I meet someone who hasn’t had a friend or family member haunted by the drug. I personally have lost a very close friend from a heroin overdose, and have seen lots of people I know lose years of their lives because they’ve been addicted to heroin or in jail.

heroin packet

The heroin in NEPA comes in little stamped wax packets like these here.

I’ve battled with writing this post for a while, but I think it’s needed. I hope no one is upset with me writing this and I’m just going to keep it as short as possible. What is listed here is how I can identify is someone is on heroin:

Some signs of someone on heroin:

  1. Pinned pupils. This means the blacks of their eyes will be small, even if they are in a dark room.
  2. Lower tone of voice when they speak. I don’t know how to describe this in words, but people on heroin often have a low, heavy speaking voice. Also slower speech patterns.
  3. Itchiness, especially an itchy nose.
  4. Slow, heavier breathing.
  5.  “Nodding out”- literally watching someone’s head nod down and stay there, like they’re asleep.
  6. Being overly tired, falling asleep basically everywhere.
  7. Money, jewelry, electronics, dvds, cds, etc. missing.

I know it’s hard to accept that a loved one is possibly addicted to heroin or any drug. But please remember, just because someone is addicted to heroin (or anything) does not make them a bad person. They are not intentionally trying to hurt you or anyone. Heroin rots the mind and personalities. People turn into someone they never thought they could be, and its really scary to see. So if you know someone who you suspect is on heroin, the best thing to do is:

  1. Try to help them get into a treatment center, even if just to detox. Wilkes-Barre General Hospital has a heroin detox.
  2. Contact a local agency to ask for help with dealing with the person. Try best to get them into an inpatient treatment center. Some treatment centers:
    1. Clearbrook– Wilkes-Barre PA
    2. Choices– Kingston, PA
    3. Marworth– Waverly, PA
  3. Get yourself some help. Addiction messes up everyone’s lives, not just the lives of the user. Al-Anon has many NEPA chapters.

 

I hope this is helpful. I hope that if you know someone struggling with addiction that they get the help they need.

 

 

 

 

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