Author Archive for Leah I editor-in-chief

Must-see summer blockbusters

Michael Shepard II

Reporter, 5 Rights News


Here are 5 summer movies that every movie-goer should see:

1.Ted: A movie about man and his childhood friend – a teddy bear. The comedy stars Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, and Seth MacFarlane. Opens: Friday, June 29

2. Madea’s Witness Protection: Tyler Perry’s is back with his classic portrayl of Madea but this time she will have to deal with  a investment banker who needs witness protection. The movie stars  Tyler Perry, Eugene Levy, and Romeo. Opens: Friday, June 29.

3. The Amazing Spider-Man:  The robot series opens with a teenage Peter Parker trying to figure out what happened to his parents and he crosses paths with Curt Conners. The movie stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, and Rhys Ifans.

4. Dark Knight Rises: The last chapter of the Christopher Nolan trilogy  has a new villain who terrorizes Gotham. The movie stars Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Gary Oldman, and Tom Hardy.

5. The Campaign: Don’t  you love Will Ferrell? This likely blockbuster centers around two rival politicians who square off for presidential campaign. The  stars Will Ferrell, Zach Galifianakis, and Jason Sudeiksis.

Attorney claims smoking ban violates civil rights

Beatriz Costa-Lima

Managing Editor, 5 Rights News


Instead of the usual flow of regular customers to Casino, an Eastside bar, nowadays, patrons buy one drink, step outside to smoke and then leave, according to bar owner Rhoda Walker.

Walker claims the Indianapolis smoking ban is the cause for this shift in business and finds the ban encroaches upon her civil rights.

Indianapolis-based attorney Mark Small, with Ogden Law Firm, filed a motion in Federal District Court on behalf of Walker and 42 other plaintiffs. Walker stated the Ninth Amendment protects the right to smoke on private property.

The ban, which took effect June 1, strengthened the current legislation to restrict smoking in bars with the exception of private clubs, hooka bars and cigar bars.

“The right of an owner of a private business on private property to allow patrons or customers to engage in otherwise legal conduct is among those rights not specifically enumerated in the Constitution or Bill of Rights,” Small said. “[Smoking] would have been a right the framers would have believed unnecessary to specifically protect as they convened over mugs of ale and pipes of tobacco during that summer of 1787 in Philadelphia.”

Before he adresses the media, Indianapolis-based attorney Mark Small, of Ogden Law Firm, speaks with one of his 43 plaintiffs on the steps of the federal district courthouse.

While courts across the nation usually uphold smoking bans, this is the first time an opponent has used the Ninth Amendment in support of smokers’ rights. However, this approach appears more as an act of desperation rather than an argument that will hold up in court, according to Gerard Magliocca, Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis professor.

“There are very few cases that would use the ninth Amendment to do anything,”

Magliocca said. “There’s just no grounds for that kind of argument. Smoking is a heavily regulated thing. There are all sorts of cities around the world that have smoking bans and few have ever challenged them.”

Legislators regulate businesses in various ways in order to create safe work environments, according to David Orentlicher, Indiana University School of Law-Indianapolis professor.

“The court recognizes that it’s important for the government to regulate this area,” Orentlicher said, “The freedom to decide how exactly to run your business the way you want is not a fundamental right. The government can tell you what minimum wage to pay employees; they can regulate overtime hours…there are all kinds of regulations to create a safe working environment.”

Despite some controversy to the ban, Mark Lotter, spokesperson for Mayor Greg Ballard, believes that with time, people will adjust to the regulations.

“When you saw the 2005 ban go into effect, there were some initial concerns, but over the course of time people adjusted,” Lotter said. “From a public health and business stand point it makes the city more attractive to employers, conventions and visitors. We are seeing generally positive response from the community.”

Small believes that the ban serves as simply one step to further restrictions on citizen’s daily choices.

“Double cheeseburgers with fries [will] probably [be] next,” Small said. “You already see 17 ounce slurpees in New York City are illegal. How can you have a decent slurpee if it’s 16 ounces or less? It makes no sense…how can a mayor, simply acting on his own, say we’re not going to do that?”

In addition, Small doubted the harmful effects of secondhand smoke Wednesday at a news conference outside the federal courthouse. Cigarette smoke, he said, produces the “equivalent of a million cigarettes.” However, a study led by the Tobacco Control Unit of Italy’s National Cancer Institute in Milan suggests that air pollution emitted by cigarettes is 10 times greater than diesel car exhaust. Due to the Clean Air Act of 1970, the Environmental Protection Agency has regulates motor vehicle pollution

With the ban in place, Walker worries if Casino will stay in business much longer with the decrease in customers.

“This is my livelihood,” Walker said. “What can I do?”

State Police crack down on reckless drivers

Leah Johnson

Editor-in-Chief, 5 Rights News


  Indiana State Police are implementing an aggressive ‘Crash Reduction Enforcement Program’ to save Hoosier lives.

Traffic deaths have  been slowly on the rise since 2009, with 700 deaths to more than 750 in 2010. According to ISP Commander John Smithers, while traffic related deaths have been managed well in past years, the recent spike is cause for alarm.

“Over the past couple of years we’ve been pretty successful as far as reducing the number of fatal crashes. However, this year there has been a bit of an aberration in fatals- particularly in rural areas.” Smithers said.

Crashes, he notes, are the result of poor driving techniques.

“Following too closely, changing lanes without properly signaling, driving too fast for weather conditions.”

The program is an undercover effort, which will use less traditional vehicles than the department has used in the past. Helicopters, cyclist patrols, unmarked Dodge Chargers and Ford Mustangs are all a part of the campaign.

Motorist Sandra O’Brien has firsthand experience with undercover vehicles.

“I mean, people are going a lot faster than me.  I’m shocked that I got pulled over, I really am.” O’Brien said.

“I’m not even a speed demon- I’m not. I’m just trying to get on this road. That’s all I was trying to do.”

Statistically, the measures already have  proven to be effective. The more police contacts made, the lower the amount of traffic related fatalities. In March 2012 alone, police contacts skyrocketed to 22,790 while total crashes dropped to 11,660.

Indiana State Police Superintendent  Paul Whitesell said he intends on using any method necessary to save lives.

“We are steadfast in our commitment to minimize the number of crashes that injure and kill people on our roadways and will use all tools and enforcement methods at our disposal to stop such needless tragedies.” Whitesell said.

The extra measures, State Trooper Justin Hobbs said are necessary for Hoosier safety.

“If you are abiding by traffic laws you don’t have anything to worry about.” Hobbs said.

“We got a laser clock on a burgundy SUV at 65 in a workzone, and then you have workers out here still working. And that’s why we’re out here, keep those folks safe.”

Student Field Trips

Editors' meeting at the Indianapolis Star.

Touring the Indianapolis City- County building.

Man on the street: Immigration Bills

“I feel that people should come here legally. You know, I was an immigrant myself and I did it legally. I took the time to get the paperwork and everything. And I have no problem with people here illegally, but I believe that’s how it should be done.”

-Betty Caputo, McCordsville Resident

Indianapolis resident Terrell Parker

“From what I’ve read so far I believe that they are unconstitutional.”

-Lee Buckley, Indianapolis Resident


“I don’t support [the bills] because they’re discriminatory. Its basically like racial profiling and I don’t support racial profiling.”

-Terrell Parker, Indianapolis Resident


“Latino Youth Collective is very involved in educating about YSB 590. They had the five students that were arrested for a sit-in in Mitch Daniel’s office. I believe their court hearing was a couple of days ago, so yeah hey, I don’t know what they were charged with. Indiana is one of the states that doesn’t do undocumented students, doesn’t give them the same tuition. It’s pretty intense.”

-Dana Black, AmeriCorps Volunteer

AmeriCorps volunteer Dana Black

IMPD helps mental health

Lieutenant David Hoffman discusses IMPD's stand on officers' mental health.

By Jana Warren

5 Rights | staff writer

A police officer’s job is to protect their fellow citizens, sometimes jeopardizing their own life. But the public isn’t likely to know that the officers are subjected to stresses that can lead not only to physical harm but undiagnosed mental health issues.

“Police officers are not immune from the same stress which can negatively affect the other members of our community,” said Lt. David Hofmann of the Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department. At least 15 percent of all Americans, which includes police officers, suffer from some kind of undiagnosed mental illness according to Hofmann.  Whether they’re one-year rookies or 25-year veterans, the daily activities of an officer can take a toll, he said.

“As a police officer, in a matter of moments you can witness a homicide involving a mother or a son, or a house caught on fire and a fireman dragging a body out,” said Capt. Jack Keilger of theMarion County Sheriff Department. “We deal with a lot of shattered lives but if we don’t keep it (stress) in control we’re going to have a shattered life.”

Understanding what that amount of stress can lead to, departments such as the Marion County Sheriff and  IMPD provide programs and services as well as career advice and guidance to officers. The services also include coordinating professional help from therapists to psychiatrists.

“We have an excellent Employee Assistance Program,” said Hofmann, who works in IMPD’sinternal affairs unit. “We also offer department mentors for officers, and in some cases, special temporary assignments to give officers a change of scenery or additional training in areas of interest to them.” Overall IMPD has helped more than 40 officers deal with personal and professional issues. Officers are able to work on their normal assignments while getting help, as well as being given temporary assignments.

Sometimes, the best way for police officers to get through stressful situations is to talk to someone.

“Most people look at officers as superheroes when they should realize that we’re humans too,” said Marion County Sheriffs Deputy Samuel Longwood.  “When you have supervisors who work closely with you, you tend to become a family and you’re able to share and tell them what you’re going through.”

For some officers however, it isn’t so simple.

“There’s a macho sense about the job,” said Keilger. “There’s a lot of A-type in them, that they don’t want to get help.”

At that point, the situation can get worse for some officers.  Others are able to cope with the stress while contemplating whether to seek help. Longwood was one of those officers.

“Sometimes I felt that I needed to go to someone but didn’t and eventually figured it out myself,” said Longwood. When police officers encounter a lot of stress, they are encouraged to participate in activities the enjoy, Longwood said. In doing so,  officers not only relieve the stress but also find a way to deal with it in the future.

“The overall theme of what we do in our office is to try to take good care of our most valuable asset, our people,” said Hofmann. “That, in turn, will make IMPD stronger, more professional agency, which in turn will make Indianapolis a safer community.”


Curbing violent crime

By Charles Barron

5 Rights | staff writer

Indianapolis Mayor Greg Ballard unveiled a new initiative this week  to curb violent crime among Indianapolis’ youth.

Announced at Broad Ripple Park, at the center of the program, is the Youth Violence Reduction Team: a collaborative effort between the city’s Department of Public Safety, Wishard’s Prescription for Hope, Ten Point Coalition, Peace Learning Center and Juvenile Courts and Probation.

“The team will utilize established violence and crime prevention programs and real-time crime data to build neighborhood-level partnerships that will create safer environments for our youth,” Ballard said.

Public Safety Director Frank Straub called the neighborhoods where the program will be focused – on the Westside near Speedway, the Northeastside, and the Eastside – “hot spots.”

Juvenile Court and Probation will help identify at-risk youth  while the Ten Point Coalition will provide pre- and post- incident street outreach to those teens.

Finally, the Prescription for Hope will offer consultation in violent crime situations as well as workshops on preventing violent crime. The Wishard group also will offer anti- violence education.

“Since its inception, Prescription for Hope has focused on reducing repeat violent personal injury and criminal activity by helping patients and their families make life-changing and life-saving choices,” said City-County Councillor Benjamin Hunter, chairman of the city’s public safety committee.

The plan is that that the program’s influence on youth will reduce violent retaliation crimes and subsequent hospital visits. According to Dr. Gerardo Gomez ofWishard Health Services, 31% of youth involved in violent crimes and treated at the hospital are readmitted.

Some people are skeptical whether the program will work but others welcome the initiative.

“(Crime) has spun out of control,” said Althea Ross, who lives on the city’s Northeastside. “People are afraid because nobody wants to die.”


Planned Parenthood regains funding

Planned parenthood protest photo by ABC News

By Justin Crain

5 Rights | staff writer

Planned Parenthood offices will stay open as U.S District Court Judge Tanya Walton Pratt ruled in the organizations favor over a new law, which strips Medicaid funding from the agency.

The decision means 9,300 Medicaid patients can again receive necessary services such as Pap tests, breasts exams, STD testings and other exams the health care agency provides.

Planned Parenthood CEO Betty Cockrum said the ruling will have an immediate impact.

“This decision will have immediate, positive consequences for our patients and our organization, the state’s largest reproductive health care provider,” said Cockrum in a press release issued Friday after the ruling.

Sen. Scott Schneider, the Republican who authored the bill during the most recent Indiana General Assembly, told the Associated Press: “The whole ruling is disappointing in my opinion. In my opinion, it’s judicial activism.” The governor who signed HEA 2011 into law refused to issue a statement on the ruling.

Even though the judge’s decision favors Planned Parenthood, the agency still seeks a permanent injunction to the law that defunds Medicaid payments. Kate Shepherd, a spokesperson for Planned Parenthood said that agency officials hope that a hearing is set by the end of the year.

Crowded campus

By Katie Kutsko

5 Rights | staff writer

Robertson Hall | photo by Haedyn Scgalski

Butler is normally a barren campus during the summertime. College students go home, the administration is left to prepare for the next school year and there are some summer school students. But not they are not alone this summer.

“Usually during the summer it is pretty dead,” said Marc Allan, Associate Director of Public Relations at Butler University. “There is more activity this week than usual. After commencement, we wouldn’t normally see anyone but deans and admissions people. Now we’re seeing more faculty. I guess with the more modern mentality, people are always working.”

Aside from faculty, Allan said that there are three camps, members from the sororities Kappa Alpha Beta and Alpha Phi and campus visits this week — more than 800 students. The camps include a piano camp, Gadget camp and creative writing camp.

The camps integrate a college experience into younger kids’ lives and provide a week of immersive learning.

According to Piano Camp director Karen Thickstun, it provides a teaching experience for Butler students who act as counselors and teachers. She also said it makes art accessible to all different levels of expertise. Students at the Butler Piano Camp have been playing from six months to years.

“It’s not only for serious students. We believe music should be a part of your life whether you want to make it your career or not,” Thickstun said.

With a different type of student on campus during the summer, Chief of Campus Police Benjamin Hunter said that the police have to change their security. In addition to the campers, there are construction workers on campus. With two different groups of people who are not usually at Butler, the campus police focus on all students’ safety.

“There is lots of major renovation. It opens some change for us,” Hunter said. “There is a lot of movement with different contractors, and we require them to sign a sheet and sign out access keys. We also keep logs.”

The University’s goal is for students to feel safe and to enjoy the campus. Even though the camps use Butler’s facilities, the University doesn’t benefit monetarily. According to Allan, the University gains more.

“We want students to see our beautiful campus. If they like our campus and like our people, maybe they’ll decide to attend Butler,” Allan said. “We have hundreds of events on campus each year, and we’d like them to come back for a lecture or a performance. It’s not always about money. Nor should it be.”

While spending a week on Butler’s campus this summer, students will meet diverse groups of other students and be a part of a college atmosphere.

Allan said, “Butler is part of the community. We want people to feel welcome here.”

Immigration law affects Indiana students

Photo from IUPUI Multicultural Success Center homepage

By Leah Johnson and Katie Kutsko

5 Rights | Editor-in-Chief and staff writer

College students should be ready for a change next month.

On July 1, House Bill 1402, a bill passed in the Indiana legislature this year, becomes effective. On the date, all undocumented students become ineligible for in-state tuition rates, scholarships, grants or other aid funded through the university.

The change could mean less diversity on campus, an interruption in student relationships and a denial of an education that many have worked toward their entire lives. Some Hoosiers, however, support the law, saying that illegal immigrants should become legal.

One local university already has started their preparing their students for the new immigration law. IUPUI notified students that they will be required to verify citizenship for fall 2011 enrollment. If citizenship can not be confirmed, state aid will be denied.

“It is unfortunate that students won’t be getting financial aid,” said Danielle Wilson, IUPUI Tourism, Convention and Event Management major. “[Without my financial aid], I would not be in school,” Wilson, herself a citizen, sympathizes with undocumented students. “If you really want to be in school, then getting loans or seeking out loans is a sacrifice you’ll have to make. I know I’m getting financial aid, and I know it’s really important to me.”

At IUPUI, minority students account for 14.66 percent of the student population, making them the most underrepresented minority. White students account for 62 percent.

“I do think that over the long run this bill will affect levels of diversity, since many young Latinos who were brought here by their parents and are not documented are making their way through local school systems and will soon be looking for a local college to attend,” said Michael Snodgrass, associate professor of Latin American History at IUPUI. “The cost difference created by this bill will be a huge detriment to their capacity to continue their education. IUPUI already has a student population that very much over-represents the region’s white suburban population versus the city’s people of color.”

Others say that legal immigration is possible.

“I feel that people should come here legally,” said Betty Caputo, a McCordsville resident. “I was an immigrant myself, and I did it legally. I took the time to do the paper work and everything. I have no problem with anyone who’s here illegally, but I think that’s the way it should be done.”

Voices from both sides of the debate are in agreement on one fact. Indiana’s immigration legislation needs to change, and so do the means by which it is accomplished.

“I think Indiana shouldn’t be taking on legislation like this when its obviously not working. And its not right for them to be denying people education, people who are trying to contribute to our communities.” said Emma Hernandez, member of the Latino Youth Collective of Indiana. “I mean, no one in this debate about immigration reform denies that reform needs to come, but there’s a way to nurture our communities and not destroy them.”