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A 2009 police encounter nearly cost this Denver teen his life. He's alive and telling his story.

He survived his 2009 run-in with police. Many others weren't so lucky.

A 2009 police encounter nearly cost this Denver teen his life. He's alive and telling his story.

In 2009, 19-year-old Alex Landau was pulled over by three Denver police officers.

Officially, the officers told Landau that he'd been pulled over for making an illegal left turn, a minor moving violation that ordinarily comes with a small fine.

Unfortunately for Alex, his experience was about to be anything but ordinary.


GIFs from StoryCorps.

Last year, Alex and his mother Patsy Hathaway shared the story of that evening with StoryCorps.

StoryCorps has since made a short animated video featuring their retelling:

For Alex, things took a dark turn after he asked the officers if they had a warrant to search his trunk.

"So I asked them, 'Can I please see a warrant before you continue to search?'" Alex says. "And they grabbed me and began to hit me in the face."

A piece published in Westword expanded on Alex's story.

"[The officer] then asked Landau if he could search his car.

Landau agreed. As the cop rummaged around the seats, two additional officers, a man and a woman, arrived in a second squad car. Once he was finished with the front and back seats, the first cop took Landau's keys and went to unlock the trunk.

Knowing about the weed there, Landau took several steps forward with his hands raised above his head, as if to show he meant no harm, and asked if the officer had a warrant to search the trunk."



After knocking Alex to the ground, the three officers continued to hit him with flashlights, radios, and, yes, fists.

"I could feel the gun pressed to my head. I expected to be shot."

As he gasped for breath, Alex heard one of the officers shout out, "He's reaching for her gun!" One of the officers then put a gun to Alex's head, saying, "If he doesn't calm down, we're going to have to shoot him."

That's when he blacked out.

Luckily, Alex survived to tell his story. Sadly, he'd be forced to relive it for years to come.

It took 45 stitches to close Alex's wounds — graphic photos of his injuries can be found here. Alex filed a report with the city, but the officers involved sidestepped responsibility for the assault. Two of the officers were eventually fired after getting caught beating another person (this time, it was on tape).

In 2013, the Denver Police Department announced that it had determined that officers involved in Alex's beating were not guilty of misconduct. Two years earlier, the department settled with Alex and his family for nearly $800,000.


Alex's story isn't unique and that's what makes it so important to discuss.

The past few years have been filled with high-profile instances of unarmed black men like Alex being beaten and all-too-frequently killed by white police officers.

Dontre Hamilton, Eric Garner, John Crawford III, Mike Brown, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Akai Gurley, Rumain Brisbon, Tony Robinson, Phillip White, Eric Harris, Walter Scott, and Freddie Gray lost their lives after being confronted by police — and these are just some of the names since April 2014.

Photo by Mladen Antonov/AFP/Getty Images.

This is the basis of the #BlackLivesMatter movement.

If you have to ask why the movement is #BlackLivesMatter and not #AllLivesMatter, it's because to much of the world — and, disturbingly, to law enforcement — black lives often don't matter. That needs to change.

It's #BlackLivesMatter and not #AllLivesMatter because that's the reality. Alex's passenger — who was caught with drugs — made it through the night of their encounter with the police without injury. He's white.

We've seen how this plays out. We've seen that Alex's story is not simply an outlier.

No one should have to fear that their encounter with police will land them in the hospital. No one should have to fear for their life when they see the blue and red flashing lights. But until that's the case, the most important thing we can do is to lift stories like Alex's.

True

When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

Vanna White appeared on "The Price Is Right" in 1980.

Vanna White has been a household name in the United States for decades, which is kind of hilarious when you consider how she gained her fame and fortune. Since 1982, the former model and actress has made millions walking back and forth turning letters (and later simply touching them—yay technology) on the game show "Wheel of Fortune."

That's it. Walking back and forth in a pretty evening gown, flipping letters and clapping for contestants. More on that job in a minute…

As a member of Gen X, television game shows like "Wheel of Fortune" and "The Price is Right" send me straight back to my childhood. Watching this clip from 1980 of Vanna White competing on "The Price is Right" two years before she started turning letters on "Wheel of Fortune" is like stepping into a time machine. Bob Barker's voice, the theme music, the sound effects—I swear I'm home from school sick, lying on the ugly flowered couch with my mom checking my forehead and bringing me Tang.

This video has it all: the early '80s hairstyles, a fresh-faced Vanna White and Bob Barker's casual sexism that would never in a million years fly today.

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