CVIndependent

Sat12152018

Last updateTue, 18 Sep 2018 1pm

Around 10 a.m. this morning, a crowd—estimated by local Palm Springs Police Sgt. Mike Villegas—of “about 2,000 people” joined together to memorialize the lives and untimely deaths of students victimized by gun violence, including the 17 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School students killed by a gunman on Feb. 14 in Parkland, Fla.

As the crowd stood in silence, high school students held aloft portraits of the slain Florida victims, as brief biographies were read for each of them. Then, as planned, the memorial transitioned into a demonstration march through Palm Springs, with at least 3,000 participants. After the front line of marchers stepped off from the corner of Farrell Drive and Baristo Road, it took a full 10 minutes for the entire line to pass that point.

The demonstrators—a mix of locals ranging from tiny toddlers (with parents in tow), to striding teenage students and supportive seniors--were upbeat and determined to have their voices heard as part of the national chorus of Americans calling for an end to gun violence of all types.

See a selection of photos from the march below.

Published in Snapshot

On this week's depressingly familiar weekly Independent comics page: The Parkland, Fla., school shooting is on the minds of most of our cartoonists, as Jen Sorenson examines the NRA's Safe School of the Future; This Modern World looks at a similar tragedy on an alien world; and Apoca Clips deals with a weapon in the salon. Meanwhile: The K Chronicles makes magnetic poetry; and Red Meat rejects silk boxer shorts.

Published in Comics

On this week's unseasonably cool weekly Independent comics page: This Modern World explores Donald Trump's crisis-management system; Jen Sorenson serves the 1 percent; The K Chronicles reminds us about the self-shooting gun; Apoca Clips gives Kevin Spacey a trim; and Red Meat spends the night in the tree house.

Published in Comics

It’s been more than four years since the shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., yet the bone-chilling horror of what happened should never be forgotten. We can never know what those lives might have contributed to America in the future, and we can only imagine the agony of their families.

I was overcome with emotion when I walked into the main hall of the Unitarian Universalist Church in Rancho Mirage and saw the chairs on the stage, each with a T-shirt draped over it, bearing the name and age of a victim. Only one shirt was an adult size honoring one of the teachers killed; the rest were small—almost all of them showing age 6.

The event, marking the four-year anniversary of Sandy Hook, was co-sponsored by Moms Demand Action Coachella Valley, the local group affiliated with the national group Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense. Presenters included the Rev. Leisa Huyck of the Unitarian Universalist Church, attorney Frank Riela of Cathedral City, Lisa Middleton of Palm Springs, Joni Padduck of Indio, and Dori Smith of Palm Desert. It included a showing of the movie, Making a Killing: Guns, Greed and the NRA.

Similar events are being held around the country, sponsored by the Not One More Project. Children’s tees are brightly colored with names and ages. Adults, such as the teachers and administrators killed at Sandy Hook, are represented by white tees. Shooters/suicides get a black shirt with no name—the group believes even those lives should be counted as the loss of yet other human beings to gun violence.

What’s perhaps even more disturbing than the killings is what has happened to the families of those killed. A Feb. 3 report by Barbara Demick in the Los Angeles Times documented the harassment families have received from conspiracy theorists and their followers, who call themselves “Sandy Hook truthers.” Perhaps the worst is the infamous Alex Jones, whose “Infowars” programs claim the Sandy Hook killings were staged, using child actors, as a means of overturning Second Amendment rights to gun ownership.

Noah Pozner’s father received death threats and was harassed with phone calls, including ethnic and racial slurs and profanities; he spent more than a year just trying to remove an online video that featured pictures of his son over a soundtrack of a porno film.

At a memorial in 2015 for Victoria Soto, one of the teachers slain, a man was arrested after demanding to know whether she had actually been killed, while shoving a picture at her younger sister.

The medical examiner who signed the coroner reports for Sandy Hook victims was bombarded with harassing phone calls to his home and office.

A man was convicted of stealing memorial signs put up in playgrounds that honored the dead children; he later called grieving parents and claimed their children had never even existed.

Most of the families connected with Sandy Hook have had to remove their social media accounts and unlist their telephone numbers. Many have moved to recover some sense of privacy and allow time to grieve.

Others connected to Sandy Hook have also been harassed: police, photographers, neighbors, government officials, witnesses and teachers who survived the horrific event.

According to Demick’s article, perhaps the worst conspiracy theorist is a 70-year-old Florida man who has spent his pension and more than $100,000 he raised online to “expose” the conspiracy which he claims includes 500-700 people, including President Obama. He believes President Trump’s election will bring a full investigation to expose what happened, since Trump has willingly accepted support from Alex Jones.

Meanwhile, Congress recently passed a bill that will allow guns to be purchased by people considered by the Social Security Administration as too mentally unstable to handle their own affairs. This would overturn a policy put in place by President Obama that allowed sharing background-check information to limit the ability of such individuals to purchase guns. ProPublica cites a study in Connecticut that found that adding more mental health records to the background-check system created a 53 percent drop in the likelihood of a person who had ever been involuntarily committed of later carrying out a violent gun-related crime. Meanwhile, the cost to American society of gun violence, including accidents and suicides, in public-health terms, is more than $5 billion each year.

Moms Demand Action works to prevent access to guns by children, calling for guns to be locked and kept separate from ammunition. They caution that children know where parents hide things and have an amazing ability to access even safes and codes. They also suggest never sending a child to someone else’s home without asking whether they have firearms, and how they are stored. Better safe than sorry.

According to Maggie Downs of Moms Demand Action Coachella Valley (paraphrasing Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times), “In the four decades between 1975 and 2015, terrorists born in the seven nations in Trump’s travel ban killed zero people in America. … In that same period guns claimed 1.34 million lives in America, including murders, suicides and accidents.”

The families of Sandy Hook and the local activists working to raise awareness want us to remember: Noah 6, Charlotte 6, Jack 6, Olivia 6, Dylan 6, Catherine 6, Avielle 6, Jessica 6, James 6, Josephine 7, Caroline 6, Benjamin 6, Chase 7, Ana 6, Jesse 6, Daniel 7, Grace 7, Emilie 6, Madeleine 6, Allison 6.

We should all say not one more.

Anita Rufus is also known as “The Lovable Liberal,” and her radio show airs Sundays at noon on KNews Radio 94.3 FM. Email her at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Know Your Neighbors appears every other Wednesday.

Published in Know Your Neighbors

Tower, a documentary about the 1966 tower shooting at the University of Texas, takes a unique approach by using rotoscope-type animation and performers, combined with archival footage and interviews.

The words said by the performers are actual words taken from interviews with real survivors—who are also featured in the movie, non-animated. It’s a fascinating approach by director Keith Maitland, and it’s very effective.

The lone Texas gunman took the lives of 16 people (plus an unborn child), while injuring many others. The film goes into great detail about the events of that day, as well as the aftermath.

Unfortunately, this horrible incident at the University of Texas proved to be just the start of a horrible, continuing trend: In the 50 years since this happened, many more mass shootings have occurred on American campuses.

The movie is one of the 2016’s best documentaries.

Tower is available via online sources including iTunes and Amazon.com.

Published in DVDs/Home Viewing

On this week's breezy Independent comics page: The K Chronicles looks at all the chalk; This Modern World has the same ol' debate; Jen Sorenson examines the problem that is loose bazoombas; and Red Meat takes in a movie.

Published in Comics

On this week's emotional Independent comics page: The K Chronicles remembers Maya Angelou; Jen Sorenson ponders the motivations of mass shooters; and Red Meat bonds over driving lessons.

Published in Comics