By Jennifer Wenzel, Associate Professor of English and Comparative Literature and Middle Eastern, South Asian, and African Studies, Columbia University. On August 12, Charlottesville Daily Progress photographer Ryan M. Kelly captured the exact moment when Nazi sympathizer James Alex Fields, Jr. drove his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counterprotesters, injuring 19 and killing one, Heather…
Excruciating videos of NYC cop are 'not consistent with any rational notion of public safety': NAACP lawyer
The president of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund called for accountability after a series of shocking videos of a New York City Transit Police officer were posted online.
"Does this make you feel safer?" Sherrilyn Ifill posted to Twitter on Saturday, directing her followers to a thread by attorney Rebecca Kavanaugh.
"Cop on NYC subway station last night slamming a young woman to the ground for allegedly not paying her $2.75 subway fare," Kavanaugh wrote, posting a video clip of the encounter. "His name is Sergeant John Zorilla of Transit Bureau 4."
Kavanaugh then posted a second video of the officer.
"An hour later at the Essex St Subway stop he got into a confrontation with someone who had been filming him and ordered them to leave the station," she wrote.
She then posted a third video from outside the station. Kavanaugh said, "He then decided it was not enough to get them to leave the station, so he went up to the street, tackled them to the ground, maced them and arrested them. For literally no reason."
She noted New York City has "paid out almost $300,000 to settle claims against Zorilla. There have been 18 allegations of misconduct or use of force made, 8 complaints and 6 lawsuits."
Ifill slammed the actions depicted in Kavanaugh's thread.
"This is not consistent with any rational notion of public safety. Arrests for fare evasion? This kind of physical brutality? Intimidating and then arresting someone for filming and talking back to you? The lack of self-control we see here? We need accountability and a new vision," she wrote.
Here is the full thread:
CW: Police violence Cop on NYC subway station last night slamming a young woman to the ground for allegedly not pa… https://t.co/kufd2ID4KJ— Rebecca Kavanagh (@Rebecca Kavanagh) 1627767575.0
He then decided it was not enough to get them to leave the station, so he went up to the street, tackled them to th… https://t.co/ZuNWJLGHvj— Rebecca Kavanagh (@Rebecca Kavanagh) 1627767811.0
NYC has paid out almost $300,000 to settle claims against Zorilla. There have been 18 allegations of misconduct or… https://t.co/Vcf5MNGzfV— Rebecca Kavanagh (@Rebecca Kavanagh) 1627768163.0
This does not make me feel the least bit safe to ride the subway.— Rebecca Kavanagh (@Rebecca Kavanagh) 1627768875.0
One person wrote:
About a month ago, I noticed the Green Tree Frogs living around our home showing signs of lethargy & ill health. I was devastated to find about 7 of them dead.
We previously had a very healthy population of green tree frogs and a couple of months ago I noticed a frog that had turned brown. I then noticed more of them and have found numerous dead frogs around our property.
And another said she'd seen so many dead frogs on her daily runs she had to “seriously wonder how many more are there".
So what's going on? The short answer is: we don't really know. How many frogs have died and why is a mystery, and we're relying on people across Australia to help us solve it.
Why are frogs important?
Frogs are an integral part of healthy Australian ecosystems. While they are usually small and unseen, they're an important thread in the food web, and a kind of environmental glue that keeps ecosystems functioning. Healthy frog populations are usually a good indication of a healthy environment.
The stony creek frog is one of the species hit by this mysterious outbreak.
Jodi Rowley, Author provided
They eat vast amounts of invertebrates, including pest species, and they're a fundamental food source for a wide variety of other wildlife, including birds, mammals and reptiles. Tadpoles fill our creeks and dams, helping keep algae and mosquito larvae under control while they too become food for fish and other wildlife.
But many of Australia's frog populations are imperilled from multiple, compounding threats, such as habitat loss and modification, climate change, invasive plants, animals and diseases.
Although we're fortunate to have at least 242 native frog species in Australia, 35 are considered threatened with extinction. At least four are considered extinct: the southern and northern gastric-brooding frogs (Rheobatrachus silus and Rheobatrachus vitellinus), the sharp-snouted day frog (Taudactylus acutirostris) and the southern day frog (Taudactylus diurnus).
A truly unusual outbreak
In most circumstances, it's rare to see a dead frog. Most frogs are secretive in nature and, when they die, they decompose rapidly. So the growing reports of dead and dying frogs from across eastern Australia over the last few months are surprising, to say the least.
While the first cold snap of each year can be accompanied by a few localised frog deaths, this outbreak has affected more animals over a greater range than previously encountered.
This is truly an unusual amphibian mass mortality event.
In this outbreak, frogs appear to be either darker or lighter than normal, slow, out in the daytime (they're usually nocturnal), and are thin. Some frogs have red bellies, red feet, and excessive sloughed skin.
A browned, shrivelled green tree frog (Litoria caerulea)
Suzanne Mcgovern, Author provided
The iconic green tree frog (Litoria caeulea) seems hardest hit in this event, with the often apple-green and plump frogs turning brown and shrivelled.
This frog is widespread and generally rather common. In fact, it's the ninth most commonly recorded frog in the national citizen science project, FrogID. But it has disappeared from parts of its former range.
Other species reported as being among the sick and dying include Peron's tree frog (Litoria peronii), the Stony Creek frog (Litoria lesueuri), and green stream frog (Litoria phyllochroa). These are all relatively common and widespread species, which is likely why they have been found in and around our gardens.
We simply don't know the true impacts of this event on Australia's frog species, particularly those that are rare, cryptic or living in remote places. Well over 100 species of frog live within the geographic range of this outbreak. Dozens of these are considered threatened, including the booroolong Frog (Litoria booroolongensis) and the giant barred frog (Mixophyes iteratus).
The giant barred frog is a threatened species that lives in the geographic range of this outbreak.
Jodi Rowley, Author provided
So what might be going on?
Amphibians are susceptible to environmental toxins and a wide range of parasitic, bacterial, viral and fungal pathogens. Frogs globally have been battling it out with a pandemic of their own for decades — a potentially deadly fungus often called amphibian chytrid fungus.
This fungus attacks the skin, which frogs use to breathe, drink, and control electrolytes important for the heart to function. It's also responsible for causing population declines in more than 500 amphibian species around the world, and 50 extinctions.
For example, in Australia the bright yellow and black southern corroboree frog (Pseudophryne corroboree) is just hanging on in the wild, thanks only to intensive management and captive breeding.
The teeny tiny southern corroborree frogs have been hit hard by the chytrid fungus.
Jodi Rowley, Author provided
Curiously, some other frog species appear more tolerant to the amphibian chytrid fungus than others. Many now common frogs seem able to live with the fungus, such as the near-ubiquitous Australian common eastern froglet (Crinia signifera).
But if frogs have had this fungus affecting them for decades, why are we seeing so many dead frogs now?
I have to focus on my mental health […] We have to protect our minds and our bodies and not just go out and do what the world wants us to do.
Biles joins other Black women like Naomi Osaka and Meghan Markle who have chosen to forgo medals, trophies and royalty to prioritise their mental well-being.
In a recent Guardian article about “the rise of the great refusal" author Casey Gerald argued “Biles did not simply quit. She refused".
There is immense power in refusal. These women have awoken something in those of us who struggle to say “no" or who blindly serve institutions that do not have our best interest at heart. They challenge us to erect boundaries to protect our well-being.
Pressure to take on ever more work and ever more responsibility is familiar to many. But saying “no" can present unique difficulties for people from racially minoritised backgrounds.
Setting professional boundaries can be deeply challenging in the face of pressure, discrimination and adverse mental health impacts.
Pressure to take on ever more work
In academia, this pressure persists. Research by colleagues and I (Kathomi Gatwiri) shows academics from minoritised backgrounds continue to have radically different experiences to their colleagues. We argue that academics from minoritised backgrounds:
are often expected to be grateful, likeable, and […] to provide extensive pastoral care so as to maintain student happiness.
They are also exposed to more severe hostility and punishments through flawed tools of measuring performance such as Student Evaluations of Teaching if they choose not to perform this extra labour. This causes extended emotional overload for many teachers and can be especially damaging to their mental well-being.
Researchers have written about the pressure of Black tenure-track academics “to engage in service activities that are not expected of their White counterparts" such as doing extra mentoring and joining more committees:
When Black faculty members face enormous requests for service, White colleagues often advise and encourage Black faculty to “just say no".
However, just saying “no" does not always work to their best interest and can lead to institutional punishment, which can derail career progress.
Another paper which looked at how Black American women contend with the pressure to take on ever more responsibilities, noted “some women talked about the difficulty of saying no […] yet others talked about the empowerment of saying no." One interviewee said:
I don't know how to say no […] I feel I have an issue with saying no. I will spread myself like peanut butter out.
In our own research on the pressures faced by Black African professionals in the workplace in Australia, participants reported feeling the workplace was a site of constant surveillance and scrutiny, where they were often assumed to be “out of place". This increases the burden of having to work “twice as hard" to prove themselves worthy, which can result in an inability to say “no" at work.
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