The Island Connection

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From the past to the present

“Altar with K eagle in black robe at a meeting of nearly 30,000 Ku Klux Klan members from Chicago and northern Illinois in 1920.” Photo by Underwood and Underwood found in Library of Congress.

Hate groups and other extremists, ranging from the Ku Klux Klan, the neo-Nazi movement, antigovernment militias, and even black separatists, date back nearly a half-century ago but have a strong enough foothold that their actions and effects are still felt throughout the world today. Terrorism, in the broad sense of the term, is considered any unlawful use of violence or intimidation with political or religious aims in mind. Entering into the 21st century, the United States has continued to see much involvement amongst these groups.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a U.S. non-profit organization that monitors over 1,600 domestic hate groups and other extremists, recently reported that the number of hate groups that organize themselves against certain religious, racial, or sexual ideologies actually rose to 892 groups between 2014 and 2015, which is 784 more than the center reported the year prior.

Rory McVeigh, professor and chair of the Department of Sociology at the University of Notre Dame, focuses much of his research on the Ku Klux Klan.

Rory McVeigh

Does the Klan still have the same impact that it once did?

“I think it helps to put it into a historical perspective, there were times in the nation’s history when the Ku Klux Klan was quite large and quite violent and that’s varied over time. They were very violent in the aftermath of the Civil War, and quite violent duing the Civil Rights struggle in the 1960s. In  the 1920s, they were much larger than any other point in their history, and while they were still engaged in violence, there was much more focus on their opposition to Catholics and immigrants than they were to African Americans. In the historical perspective, it’s not very large, it doesn’t have the popular acceptance that it once had, but it certainly does still have the appeal towards a subset of the population.”

How has the KKK impacted politics?

“A couple colleagues and I actually published an article in the American Sociological Review in 2014 where we actually did look at communities in the South where the Klan was active in the 60s, and compared them to communities in the South were the Klan was not active. We looked at the long term differences in voting outcomes, after controlling for other things that might also effect voting outcomes. One of the things we did find was that in these areas where the Klan was active, they moved more strongly to the Republican party than was the case for Southern counties that didn’t have Klan activism during that time. It’s important to keep in mind that there was a time where the Democrats in the South were really the forces in white supremecy.

In the South, white voters were mostly behind the Democratic party, and the Democratic party in the South was very much committed to racial inequality, but that started to change in the 1950s into the 60s. Increasingly the Democratic party became connected with the civil rights movement and white voters in the South moved to the Republican party. One of the interesting things we found was that the presence or absence of the Klan made a difference in terms of the the changes in the voting patterns. We looked at over a span of over five decades, the Klan activism in the 1960s had an impact on voting outcomes that is still with us. “

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently reported a rise in extremist groups. What reason could you give to explain this?

“I think you have to be a little bit careful in assuming that a rise in place, it’s hard to get good numbers on that type of thing. I know the Southern Poverty Law Center does a really good job on trying to track racial hate groups in the country, and they’ll report a rise or decrease, but I don’t know for sure. I’m not that confident that there has been a rise, and if there has, it hasn’t been too significant as far as I can tell.

You’ll see that throughout history and in the contemporary time periods, groups will try to take advantage of opportunities when things are happening in the news to get some publicity and some attention. Elections provide those types of opportunties, as we saw different Klan organizations come out to show support for Donald Trump and that created some media attention for a while. I think any social movement, on the right or the left, will look for opportunities to capture public attention when they can, but I can’t say with any confidence that there really has been a rise.

The Southern Poverty Law Center tries really hard to track these organizations but it’s really hard to get a clear sense of whether there has been a true increase or whether some of these groups have been more active in trying to get attention for themselves. It’s been really different than in previous moments in American history where there are a few people. There was a time, just in the state of Indiana in the 1920s, where rougly every one out of three white men were members of the Ku Klux Klan. Now, clearly, being associated with the KKK is not mainstream by any stretch of the imagination.

There are certainly still people out there who are still attracted to the message that these groups offer and there probably will be for quite some time.”

“Southern Heritage Confederate Flag Rally demonstrators, en route to Upper Senate Park, on Delaware Avenue at D Street, NE, Washington DC on Saturday morning, 5 September 2015.” Photo by Elvert Barnes

Found inside Pulse Magazine at  https://indd.adobe.com/view/02555d34-14c0-414b-a7de-ac388a2a4947

Long Island’s Battle with Heroin


The looming dark cloud only seems to be growing as Long Islanders continue to battle the epidemic that is heroin. Heroin, also known as H or Smack, is a highly addictive drug not to be experimented with. Once someone starts, it’s hard to stop without treatment. Although awareness of its potency only seems to be growing, officials and statistics only prove that Long Island is still dealing with the problem.

Heroin is a depressant drug that sends warm sensations through the body, reduces anxiety, and releases a strong feeling of euphoria. Heroin can be injected, smoked, or even inhaled by snorting or sniffing, delivering the drug to the brain very rapidly. Injection is the most common method of usage for heroin addicts, where the drug is first dissolved in water and then heated.

In the past, it was easier for people to find narcotic drugs on the street, as doctors would write prescriptions for patients who were in pain. This was all before New York State passed some of the toughest laws on doctors to make sure patients who “Doctor Shop” weren’t getting too many drugs from an array of doctors. Dr. Jay Weiss, a Pain Management Physician based in Jericho, said, “The pendulum just swung the other way and people said doctors were too liberal with prescriptions and were creating patients addicted to all of these prescription drugs.”

Those abusing prescription drugs, and now no longer getting them from their doctor, found it harder to get the drugs they needed. Weiss said, “Doctors stop writing prescriptions, so the street pricing on these narcotics, like Oxycodone or Percocet, went up. People realized then it was cheaper to get heroin than Percocet.”

Withdrawal symptoms for heroin addicts include nausea and vomiting, chills, hypothermia, and even clouded mental functioning. One result is tolerance, where users feel they need more of the drug to achieve the same intensity of their original use. Users can even show signs of dependence, where continued use of heroin is needed to avoid withdrawal symptoms. Weiss said, “Heroin gives a pain relieving effect and requires higher doses to get the euphoric effect, so after a while, the body responds far less to the effects and doesn’t give the high that addicts are looking for.” Long-term effects, for those who have sought and undergone treatment, include the weakening of the immune system, breathing illnesses, muscular weakness, and even insomnia.

As a respiratory depressant, abusing higher doses of heroin can cause an overdose to the user. For residents on Long Island, there have been nearly double the fatal heroin overdoses in Nassau County through August 31st compared to the same period last year. Detective Vincent Garcia of the Nassau County Police Department’s Public Information Office said, “Combating heroin is a top priority in Nassau County, and as of August 31, we have made 443 heroin related arrests.” Garcia said that there have been 53 overdose deaths and sixty-five nonfatal deaths thanks to the administration of NARCAN, in 2014.

NARCAN is used to prevent or reverse the effects of opioids on the body, including slowed or stopped breathing related to cases of overdosing. Lisa Ganz, Clinical Program Supervisor for Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD), said, “The heroin problem on Long Island is a lot bigger than people would think. We lose about a person a day to overdoses.” She continued, “Heroin is a substance disorder, but NARCAN gives a second chance for recovery. Fatal overdoses went down last year thanks to the NARCAN antidote.”

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, fatal heroin-related overdoses increased about 75 percent between 2007 and 2011 on Long Island. 242 Long Islanders have been reported dead between 2012 and 2013. The number of heroin users, and even deaths related to overdosing, steadily increases on Long Island, with the most rapid growth within the population of young adults under the age of 21.

Recently, Hofstra University has even dealt with the epidemic after the death of student, Olivia McClellan, in her dorm on campus in April. “It’s scary to think that people my age still experiment with heroin,” said Hofstra University sophomore student, Breyanna Weimer. “You would just think by now people would know how addictive it is, ya know?”

In Hofstra University’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report for 2015, the department of Public Safety reported two drug law arrests on campus for 2014. The campus safety department also reported seventy-four cases of drug law violations referred for disciplinary action on campus for 2014, as well. This number has decreased since the previous years, with 121 violations reported in 2013 and 106 in 2012. It should be made clear, however, that the drugs listed under these categories have not been defined.

The case for McClellan was not cut and dry, as her fellow student and boyfriend, Joseph Joudah, was charged with manslaughter on October 30th after injecting McClellan with heroin and waiting for over 17 hours before calling for help to campus safety anonymously.

Acting District Attorney Madeline Singas comments on the reason behind the charge saying Joudah should have called for help right away. “That young woman should not have been left alone in her room for 17 hours to die when she was in the obvious distress that she was in, no matter what his condition, no matter what his relationship, no matter what his age.”

Junior student at Hofstra University, Valentina Corasaniti, said, “I didn’t know Olivia but when I heard about the story, it was just so surreal. Drugs shouldn’t be a person’s go-to for help. There are always parents or friends or therapists who are there for us to talk to.”

The road to recovery is hard for those addicted, and if you or someone you know needs help or to talk, centers like LICADD are available for a person to call at (516)-747-2606.

Nassau Police brace for biggest security challenge in decades


Campus Public safety, Nassau County Police Department, and the Secret Service will safeguard the presidential debate on Monday, September 26, at Hofstra University. However, these departments prefer to keep their security measures under wraps until after the debate.

Detective Vincent Garcia of the Nassau County Police Department said, “Obviously our main concern is public safety. We have done this twice before and will have adequate manpower to protect the attendees, the media covering the event, the protestors and the public.” He explained that a “substantial” amount of officers will work to protect the debate, but how he is unable to disclose the actual number of officers at this time. Garcia said, “NCPD will be prepared to handle however many [people] show up.”

“This is arguably the most significant security event in the last 30 years in Nassau County,” said acting Nassau Police Commissioner, Thomas Krumpter, at a press conference at the university on Tuesday.

He expressed how his department has been preparing for the debate for months by building security fences around the campus and along Hempstead Turnpike. This is after officials stated to expect 10,000 protestors at this year’s debate.

As of now, the Nassau County Police Department provided the public with one detailed security measure – street closings: The closing of Hempstead Turnpike between Eisenhower Park and Oak street from noon to midnight and of Earl Ovington Boulevard and Charles Lindbergh Boulevard between 5 A.M to midnight, as well as several residential streets becoming only one way.

Secret Service Agent, Joseph Muscatello, explained how TV personal, large public crowds, and politicians tend to bring out chaos, but could not speak further on the security for the debate.

Both the Secret Service and Hofstra Public Safety declined to discuss any details on the security protocols their departments have taken to prepare for the debate.

Check out the article here: http://longislandreport.org/news/nassau-police-brace-for-biggest-security-challenge-in-decades/23315