Author Archives: lauracampagna2012

The Good, Racist People

Last month the actor Forest Whitaker was stopped in a Manhattan delicatessen by an employee. Whitaker is one of the pre-eminent actors of his generation, with a diverse and celebrated catalog ranging from “The Great Debaters” to “The Crying Game” to “Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai.” By now it is likely that he has adjusted to random strangers who can’t get his turn as Idi Amin out of their heads. But the man who approached the Oscar winner at the deli last month was in no mood for autographs. The employee stopped Whitaker, accused him of shoplifting and then promptly frisked him. The act of self-deputization was futile. Whitaker had stolen nothing. On the contrary, he’d been robbed.

The deli where Whitaker was harassed happens to be in my neighborhood. Columbia University is up the street. Broadway, the main drag, is dotted with nice restaurants and classy bars that cater to beautiful people. I like my neighborhood. And I’ve patronized the deli with some regularity, often several times in a single day. I’ve sent my son in my stead. My wife would often trade small talk with whoever was working checkout. Last year when my beautiful niece visited, she loved the deli so much that I felt myself a sideshow. But it’s understandable. It’s a good deli.


Mother who stole son’s education gets 12 years in prison


Tanya McDowell, the Bridgeport mother accused of fraudulently enrolling her son in a Norwalk school and stealing more than $15,000 in educational services from the district, has pleaded guilty.

McDowell was sentenced to 12 years in prison, suspended after five, and must pay back up to $6,200 to the city of Norwalk for stealing her son’s education.

McDowell’s 12 year sentence also includes four counts of drug possession and sale charges, which she pleaded guilty to on Wednesday.

McDowell was homeless when she was charged with felony larceny last year. Authorities allege she enrolled her son in kindergarten in Norwalk using a babysitter’s address when he should have attended Bridgeport schools, where her last permanent address was.

Darnel Crosland, McDowell’s attorney said McDowell’s  son still thinks his mother stole the Norwalk school.

“That’s the sad part. He’s with his grandmother and she’s doing the best to raise him,” Crosland said. “I think you should measure her not by the fact that she was arrested for selling drugs but what has she done for her child.”

McDowell’s case drew national attention and support from civil rights leaders and other advocates, who wanted the charge dismissed.

Long Border, Endless Struggle



It’s a Worldwide Dance Craze, but It’s Not the Real Harlem Shake


Reflection as Wounded Knee anniversary approaches

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — American Indian activists took over the tiny village of Wounded Knee on South Dakota’s sprawling Pine Ridge Indian Reservation on Feb. 27, 1973, in what would become a 71-day, fatal standoff with FBI agents that attracted national attention to the impoverished reservation and the plight of local tribes.

On Wednesday, the occupation’s 40th anniversary, some of the protest’s central figures — most notably the American Indian Movement’s charismatic leader, the late Russell Means — will be noticeably absent from a commemoration at the reservation. But organizers hope the events remind people of the struggles that led to the standoff and problems still reverberating throughout Indian Country, as well as changes the protest helped spark.

Feds free hundreds from immigration detention

Carlos in the news!

Their deportation cases are not being dropped, according to Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The move is in response to looming ‘fiscal uncertainty’ over Friday’s sequestration deadline.


Republicans on Tuesday denounced the release of hundreds of illegal immigrants from federal detention centers as an attempt to frighten Americans into supporting President Obama’s budget spending demands.

Rep. Bob Goodlatte, R-Va., chairman of the House Judiciary Committee,said it was “abhorrent” that Obama would release lawbreakers “to promote his political agenda on sequestration.” He suggested the release was merely a way to pressure Republicans to vote his way.