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Here's what you can do to help end police violence.

It's easy to feel helpless in the face of injustice, but there's hope.

Here's what you can do to help end police violence.

On July 5, 2016, police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, shot and killed 37-year-old father of five Alton Sterling.

The officers were responding to a call about an armed man when they came across Sterling, tackling him to the ground outside a convenience store. Holding his head to the pavement, one of the officers fired multiple shots. Since then, multiple videos have emerged, showing what, to many people, looks like an execution-style killing.

The following day, in Falcon Heights, Minnesota, an officer shot and killed 32-year-old Philando Castile.

According to Castile’s girlfriend, Lavish Reynolds, he was shot four times after reaching for his driver’s license at the request of the officer. Reynolds recorded the aftermath of the shooting as the officer stood with his gun fixed on the dying man.


Protesters gather in front of a mural painted on the wall of the convenience store where Alton Sterling was shot and killed. Photo by Mark Wallheiser/Getty Images.

Both Sterling and Castile were black men.

In both cases, it appears that the men were complying with instructions from the officers when they were shot. Sterling and Castile marked the 505th and 506th people shot and killed by police in the U.S. in 2016.

In times like this, it's easy to feel helpless to change an unjust system — but there are several things we can do as individuals.

In April 2015, writer Ijeoma Oluo wrote an article for Ravishly addressing this very concern. She lists a number of things you can do to address police brutality, including:

  • Educating yourself on your city's police conduct review process.
  • Pressuring your local elected officials to help close gaps in that process.
  • Voting for local candidates who run on a platform of addressing police violence.
  • Supporting legal defense funds and activism groups like the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and the ACLU.

Protesters in New York City in 2014 after a grand jury decided not to indict officer Daniel Pantaleo in the death of Eric Garner. Photo by Yana Paskova/Getty Images.

Activist-led group Campaign Zero just made it really easy to find out where your state representatives stand on this issue via a new tool posted to their website, complete with ways to contact them to demand action.

Putting pressure on lawmakers to address these problems can (and does) work.

According to the Campaign Zero website, over the course of the past two years, at least 60 laws have been enacted in 28 states, with another 58 bills under consideration. Not bad, but it's only the start of what needs to be done.


Campaign Zero lists 10 things it wants to change, including:

  1. Ending "broken windows policing."
  2. Ensuring community oversight.
  3. Limiting the use of force.
  4. Independently investigating and prosecuting police killings.
  5. Increased community representation.
  6. Equipping officers with body cameras.
  7. Improving training.
  8. Ending for-profit policing.
  9. Demilitarizing departments.
  10. Reforming police union contracts.

So far, five states (California, Connecticut, Illinois, Maryland, and Utah) have enacted laws that address at least three of those goals. We can do more.

These reforms are necessary to hold all people — police or otherwise — accountable for their actions.

It's not "anti-police" to believe in responsibility. A badge shouldn't function as a license to kill, and reasonable reforms to the justice system to reflect that should be welcomed by everybody, including officers.

No one should have to fear for their life when they come into contact with the police, but for many people — especially people of color — they have no way of knowing the difference between a "good cop" and a "bad cop" until it's too late.

A protester holds her hands up in front of a police car in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014 after the grand jury decision in the fatal shooting of Michael Brown. Photo by Jewel Samad/AFP/Getty Images.

You can be a part of the change. You can help put an end to police brutality.

There's nothing that can bring back Philando Castile or Alton Sterling — or, for that matter, Michael Brown, Eric Garner, Dontre Hamilton, John Crawford, Ezell Ford, Dante Parker, Tanisha Anderson, Akai Gurley, Tamir Rice, Walter Scott, Freddie Gray, Rekia Boyd, or others.

What can happen, however, is meaningful change, and that starts with you.

Here in the U.S. many of us had our eyes glued to the news yesterday as a pro-Trump mob stormed the U.S. Capitol, disrupting a constitutionally-mandated session of Congress and sending lawmakers into hiding. We watched insurrectionists raise a Trump flag on the outside of the building, flinched at the Confederate flag being marched through its hallowed halls, and witnessed the desecration of our democracy in real-time.

It was a huge and horrifying day in our history. Our own citizens attacking our own government, all because the president refuses to accept that he lost an election. In their minds, they are patriots defending democracy from an illegitimate election. In reality, they are terrorists destroying the foundations of what makes America great.

The disconnect between what these people believe and actual reality could not be starker. Years of misinformation and disinformation, bald-faced lie upon bald-faced lie, and conspiracy theory upon conspiracy theory have led to this place. It was predictable. It should have been preventable. But it was still stunning to witness.

As an American, it's a little hard to digest in its entirety. We've been in this weird space of "alternative facts" for years, and have grown accustomed to hearing blatant lies pushed as truth. We've gotten used to being gaslit daily, from the highest office in the land. That constant deluge of falsehood has an effect on our psyches, whether we fall on the side of eating it up like candy or spitting it out like the poison it is.

So seeing what happened at the Capitol through the eyes of another country's media is really something.

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Lainey and baby goat Annie. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse
True

Oftentimes, the journey to our true calling is winding and unexpected. Take Lainey Morse, who went from office manager to creator of the viral trend, Goat Yoga, thanks to her natural affinity for goats and throwing parties.

Back in 2015, Lainey bought a farm in Oregon and got her first goats who she named Ansel and Adams. "Once I got them, I was obsessed," says Lainey. "It was hard to get me off the farm to go do anything else."

Right away, she noticed what a calming presence they had. "Even the way they chew their cud is relaxing to be around because it's very methodical," she says. Lainey was going through a divorce and dealing with a rheumatoid arthritis diagnosis at the time, but even when things got particularly hard, the goats provided relief.

"I found it impossible to be stressed or depressed when I was with them."

She started inviting friends up to the farm for what she called "Goat Happy Hour." Soon, the word spread about Lainey's delightful, stress-relieving furry friends. At one point, she auctioned off a child's birthday party at her farm, and the mom asked if they could do yoga with the goats. And lo, the idea for goat yoga was born.

A baby goat on a yoga student. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Goat yoga went viral so much so that by fall of 2016, Lainey was able to quit her office manager job at a remodeling company to manage her burgeoning goat yoga business full-time. Now she has 10 locations nationwide.

Lainey handles the backend management for all of her locations, and loves that side of the business too, even though it's less goat-related. "I still have my own personal Goat Happy Hour every single day so I still get to spend a lot of time with my goats," says Lainey. "I get the best of both worlds."

Lainey with her goat Fabio. Photo courtesy of Lainey Morse

Since COVID-19 hit, her locations have had to close temporarily. She hopes her yoga locations will be able to resume classes in the spring when the vaccine is more widely available. "I think people will need goat yoga more than ever before, because everyone has been through so much stress in 2020," says Lainey.

Major life changes like Lainey's can come around for any number of reasons. Even if they seem out of left field to some, it doesn't mean they're not the right moves for you. The new FOX series "Call Me Kat", which premieres Sunday, January 3rd after NFL and will continue on Thursday nights beginning January 7th, exemplifies that. The show is centered around Kat, a 39-year old single woman played by Mayim Bialik, who quit her math professor job and spent her life's savings to pursue her dreams to open a Cat Café in Louisville, Kentucky.

Jeff Harry started making similar moves when he was just 10-years-old, and kept making them throughout his life. After seeing the movie "Big,"Jeff knew he wanted to play with toys for a living, so he started writing toy companies asking for next steps. He finally got a response when he was a sophomore in high school — the company told him he needed to become a mechanical engineer first.

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If the past four years has taught us anything, it's that when you think things can't really get any nuttier, they totally can and will.

Case in point: Lin Wood's latest tweets.

Lin Wood is a lawyer who has filed or joined multiple lawsuits on behalf of President Trump in an attempt to overturn the 2020 presidential election. Wood has been an outspoken supporter of Trump and a forceful pusher of conspiracy theories—not only about the election, but about...well, just take a look.

Wood already made headlines a few days ago for suggesting Mike Pence should be executed by firing squad. Late last night, in a series of tweets, Wood lays out absolutely bonkers allegations against Chief Justice John Roberts and the world's "most well-known & 'elite' intelligence agencies."

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After more than two decades of torturing parents and offering a horrible example for preschool-aged children, the era of Caillou has finally ended. The Canadian kids' show started in 1997, kept churning out new episodes until 2018, and now the will be taken off the air, finally.

As a huge fan and ardent defender of PBS—especially the network's generally excellent children's programming—it pains me to launch such a passionate criticism. But seriously, how on Al Gore's green Earth did this show last for this long?

My children were born during Caillou's early years. Having been raised myself on a steady diet of Sesame Street and Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, I felt confident that PBS Kids' shows would be healthy, educational entertainment for my own children as they entered the preschool phase, and for the most part, PBS delivered. In addition to the awesomeness of Sesame Street, my kids got to explore the alphabet through Martha Speaks, dive into scientific questions with Sid the Science Kid, and build reading skills and curiosity with Super Why. My kids loved learning while being entertained, and I loved that they were learning while being entertained.

Then there was Caillou. I'm not sure if I have the words for my depth of loathing for that character, and I'm someone who loves all (real) children. I'm not the only one who feels this way. For years, Caillou has been a running joke in the parenting world, regularly taking first place in the "Most Annoying Kids' Show" category. Social media erupted in virtual celebration at the news of its demise.

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