A Miami police officer becomes a mentor to the teen who attacked him at a BLM protest
via Julian Stroleny

Seventeen-year-old Michael Marshall had never been to a protest before, but on June 10, his mother dropped him off at Bayside Marketplace in Miami, Florida to join Black Lives Matter in their call for justice.

"It was important to me as a young Black man to go out there and stand with my people," he told The Miami Herald. "It was important to represent something way bigger than me."

The protests turned violent when demonstrators began vandalizing statues of Juan Ponce de León and Christopher Columbus. This resulted in the Miami Police Department deploying a response platoon against the demonstrators.


This caused a melee in which the 6-foot-4, nearly 300-pound Marshall whacked officer Raymon Washington in the head with his skateboard.

Boy, 17, faces charge after video shows him hit officer with skate board www.youtube.com


Soon after Marshall struck the officer he had deep feelings of remorse. "When I was going home, I looked around and realized this took a hard curve and it wasn't for me," he said. Marshall, a standout Northwestern High football player, had never been in any trouble before or had any encounters with the police.

As Black man, Washington understood the protestors' rage.

"The uproar — I understood it because I'm Black myself," Washington said. "I still get stopped in my neighborhood in my car by the police. I get it. There is change that needs to happen but tearing up the city is not one way."

Washington didn't immediately realize he had been struck, but after things calmed down in downtown Miami, he vomited and was sent home. "I took a shower, ordered a pizza and slept for three days," Washington said. "I woke up to my brother kicking in my front door. They thought I was dead."

Washington was concussed by the blow. This added to the lingering effects of multiple concussions he received as an athlete in his youth.

After video of the teenager striking the officer spread online, Marshall turned himself in to authorities and was charged with aggravated battery of a law enforcement officer.

Julian Stroleny, the teenager's lawyer, got to work on a plea deal that would spare Marshall a mark on his clean record and impede his promising football career.

"I had seen the pictures distributed by the media, I had seen the video, but the young man before me was kind, timid, humble, and incredibly remorseful," Stroleny said. "He had no priors, excellent grades, and was a star athlete. Not even a detention at school."

As part of the deal, he proposed a meeting between Washington and Marshall to reconcile.

However, Washington was hesitant.

"I was like, 'No.' I didn't really have a good understanding of the juvenile justice system," Washington said. "I'm used to dealing with adults — do the crime, do the time type of thing."

But after Washington learned about Marshall's athletic aspirations he agreed to meet with the teenager.

The two, along with members of Marshall's family met in a State Attorney's conference room where Washington read Marshall's three-page letter of apology. The letter brought him to tears.

"I was that kid — a high school athlete, wanted to go to college. Had offers on the table. I was like, I don't want to screw this kid up. If I can change one life, and that's it, then that's it," Washington said. "I should have been dead three times this year. For some reason, God was like, you're here for a reason."

Marshall was devastated after learning the officer's history with concussions.

The police officer then did something extraordinary. He gave the teenager his cellphone number and arranged for him to receive tutoring and offered him rides to and from football practice.

The two are now in regular communication through text messages and Washington has become a mentor to the teen.

Recently, Washington visited the teenager's home and was in the stands for Northwestern's game against its rival, Central High.

"We won. I played great," Marshall said. "I played amazing. He was so proud of me."

"The divide between police and the communities they service isn't good for anybody," Miami-Dade State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle said. "This is a shining example of how we can overcome the tense relationships that exist. It's a beautiful story."

Marshall's attorney has reached a plea deal with the state that includes Washington's blessing. If he completes his probation and volunteer hours at the Miami Police Department, his record will be expunged at the age of 19.

Marshall is a senior looking to graduate this June. He has already received a few scholarships offers and hopes to play for a Division 1 team.

Images courtesy of Mark Storhaug & Kaiya Bates

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The experiences we have at school tend to stay with us throughout our lives. It's an impactful time where small acts of kindness, encouragement, and inspiration go a long way.

Schools, classrooms, and teachers that are welcoming and inclusive support students' development and help set them up for a positive and engaging path in life.

Here are three of our favorite everyday actions that are spreading kindness on campus in a big way:

Image courtesy of Mark Storhaug

1. Pickleball to Get Fifth Graders Moving

Mark Storhaug is a 5th grade teacher at Kingsley Elementary in Los Angeles, who wants to use pickleball to get his students "moving on the playground again after 15 months of being Zombies learning at home."

Pickleball is a paddle ball sport that mixes elements of badminton, table tennis, and tennis, where two or four players use solid paddles to hit a perforated plastic ball over a net. It's as simple as that.

Kingsley Elementary is in a low-income neighborhood where outdoor spaces where kids can move around are minimal. Mark's goal is to get two or three pickleball courts set up in the schoolyard and have kids join in on what's quickly becoming a national craze. Mark hopes that pickleball will promote movement and teamwork for all his students. He aims to take advantage of the 20-minute physical education time allotted each day to introduce the game to his students.

Help Mark get his students outside, exercising, learning to cooperate, and having fun by donating to his GoFundMe.

Image courtesy of Kaiya Bates

2. Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids

According to the WHO around 280 million people worldwide suffer from depression. In the US, 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness and 1 in 20 experience severe mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Kaiya Bates, who was recently crowned Miss Tri-Cities Outstanding Teen for 2022, is one of those people, and has endured severe anxiety, depression, and selective mutism for most of her life.

Through her GoFundMe, Kaiya aims to use her "knowledge to inspire and help others through their mental health journey and to spread positive and factual awareness."

She's put together regulation kits (that she's used herself) for teachers to use with students who are experiencing stress and anxiety. Each "CALM-ing" kit includes a two-minute timer, fidget toolboxes, storage crates, breathing spheres, art supplies and more.

Kaiya's GoFundMe goal is to send a kit to every teacher in every school in the Pasco School District in Washington where she lives.

To help Kaiya achieve her goal, visit Staying C.A.L.M: Regulation Kits for Kids.

Image courtesy of Julie Tarman

3. Library for a high school heritage Spanish class

Julie Tarman is a high school Spanish teacher in Sacramento, California, who hopes to raise enough money to create a Spanish language class library.

The school is in a low-income area, and although her students come from Spanish-speaking homes, they need help building their fluency, confidence, and vocabulary through reading Spanish language books that will actually interest them.

Julie believes that creating a library that affirms her students' cultural heritage will allow them to discover the joy of reading, learn new things about the world, and be supported in their academic futures.

To support Julie's GoFundMe, visit Library for a high school heritage Spanish class.

Do YOU have an idea for a fundraiser that could make a difference? Upworthy and GoFundMe are celebrating ideas that make the world a better, kinder place. Visit upworthy.com/kindness to join the largest collaboration for human kindness in history and start your own GoFundMe.

Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons

Wil Wheaton speaking to an audience at 2019 Wondercon.

In an era of debates over cancel culture and increased accountability for people with horrendous views and behaviors, the question of art vs. artist is a tricky one. When you find out an actor whose work you enjoy is blatantly racist and anti-semitic in real life, does that realization ruin every movie they've been a part of? What about an author who has expressed harmful opinions about a marginalized group? What about a smart, witty comedian who turns out to be a serial sexual assaulter? Where do you draw the line between a creator and their creation?

As someone with his feet in both worlds, actor Wil Wheaton weighed in on that question and offered a refreshingly reasonable perspective.

A reader who goes by @avinlander asked Wheaton on Tumblr:

"Question: I have more of an opinion question for you. When fans of things hear about misconduct happening on sets/behind-the-scenes are they allowed to still enjoy the thing? Or should it be boycotted completely? Example: I've been a major fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer since I was a teenager and it was currently airing. I really nerded out on it and when I lost my Dad at age 16 'The Body' episode had me in such cathartic tears. Now we know about Joss Whedon. I haven't rewatched a single episode since his behavior came to light. As a fan, do I respectfully have to just box that away? Is it disrespectful of the actors that went through it to knowingly keep watching?"

And Wheaton offered this response, which he shared on Facebook:

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When a pet is admitted to a shelter it can be a traumatizing experience. Many are afraid of their new surroundings and are far from comfortable showing off their unique personalities. The problem is that's when many of them have their photos taken to appear in online searches.

Chewy, the pet retailer who has dedicated themselves to supporting shelters and rescues throughout the country, recognized the important work of a couple in Tampa, FL who have been taking professional photos of shelter pets to help get them adopted.

"If it's a photo of a scared animal, most people, subconsciously or even consciously, are going to skip over it," pet photographer Adam Goldberg says. "They can't visualize that dog in their home."

Adam realized the importance of quality shelter photos while working as a social media specialist for the Humane Society of Broward County in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"The photos were taken top-down so you couldn't see the size of the pet, and the flash would create these red eyes," he recalls. "Sometimes [volunteers] would shoot the photos through the chain-link fences."

That's why Adam and his wife, Mary, have spent much of their free time over the past five years photographing over 1,200 shelter animals to show off their unique personalities to potential adoptive families. The Goldbergs' wonderful work was recently profiled by Chewy in the video above entitled, "A Day in the Life of a Shelter Pet Photographer."