Diversity Headlines

NaMo in a New York Minute

New America Media - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 01:05
No one should be surprised if Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the White House will be seen as a side show of his triumphant return to the United States. His visit to New York was such a superbly scripted... Sunil Adam http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Q&A: Long Beach Unified Only District in CA to Mention Homeless Students in its Budget

New America Media - Wed, 10/01/2014 - 01:00
Ed. Note: New data show the number of homeless students in California has spiked in recent years. As of the 2012-2013 school year, some 270,000 of the state’s public school student were homeless at some point, accounting for a quarter... Peter Schurmann http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Inmates and Families Charged to Send, Spend Their Own Money

Colorlines - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 13:03
Inmates and Families Charged to Send, Spend Their Own Money

With 2.4 million people locked up in the United States, prisons are big business, and not just for the private companies that operate them. The Center for Public Integrity has a multi-part look out today on the business scheme to make inmates and those newly released from prison pay to access their own money. 

The report focuses on JPay, a prisoner financial services company which sells debit cards and money transfer services to inmates and their families. Amirah Al Idrus reports for the Center for Public Integrity:

In Michigan, for example, JPay charges users 50 cents to check the card's balance at an ATM, $2 to withdraw cash, 70 cents to make a purchase and 50 cents a month for a maintenance fee. Even not using the card costs money. Doing nothing draws a $2.99 fee after 60 days. To cancel the card, it costs $9.95.

In a companion article, Center for Public Integrity reporter Daniel Wagner writes that families have few alternatives but to submit to this fee-filled world.

Inmates' need for money is inescapable, Nelson says. Those in northern Illinois are not issued cold-weather clothes, he says, leaving them vulnerable to frostbite unless they can get money to pay for prison-approved long underwear and boots.


Taken together, JPay and other prison vendors create a system in which families are paying to send the money, and inmates are paying again to spend it, says Keith Miller, who is serving 21 ½ years at Bland for a series of drug-related, violent crimes committed in his early 20s. The earliest he may be released is 2021, when his mother will be 87 years old.

"The fact that [my mother] has to pay the fees to send the money and then the fact that [prison agencies] make a certain cut off it seems to me that [the prisons are] double-dipping into the money they're sending," he said in an interview at the prison. "It really doesn't make sense to me that this should be allowed."

CPI will release the second half of its report on Thursday. Read the rest at the Center on Public Integrity.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Rikers Island Will End Solitary Confinement for Its Youngest Inmates

Colorlines - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 13:01
Rikers Island Will End Solitary Confinement for Its Youngest Inmates

After a year of scathing media reports and a Department of Justice review, New York City is changing the way it treats its teen inmates. The city will stop holding 16- and 17-year-old inmates in solitary confinement, beginning at the end of the year, AP reported.

In August, the United States attorney's office released a report that said that Rikers Island, where the majority of New York City prisoners are held, too often turned to solitary confinement and had a "deep-seated culture of violence," the New York Times reported. The change will affect roughly 300 of Rikers Island's 11,000 inmates.

For more, watch this report of a former teen inmate at Rikers Island talking about the experience and lasting impacts of being held in solitary confinement while he was behind bars.

Categories: Diversity Headlines

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New America Media - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:49
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New America Media - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 10:35
English????????“?????UC Ventures?”?????????????????????????????????UC Regents?????????????????????2.5??? ??????????????????????? ???????????????10????5??????3?????????????24?????19??????170????????????????????????????????????????????Jagdeep Singh Bachher??“???????????????????????????????????” ????????.??????Janet Napolitano???““????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????”??????????????????????? ????????????????????????????????????????????? ????????????????????????????“????” ??????????????2015????????... Peter Schurmann http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=64
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‘Health For All’ Bill Would Fix Hole in the Affordable Care Act

New America Media - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 09:58
SAN FRANCISCO -- According to Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Oakland), “There is a hole in the Affordable Care Act, in terms of access to coverage, that you can drive a truck through.” That hole, he says, is the fact that people... Anna Challet http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Report: Sunday Talk Shows Rarely Mention Asian-Americans

Colorlines - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 09:36
 Sunday Talk Shows Rarely Mention Asian-Americans

When Fox News panelist Jonathan Hoenig used Japanese-American internment during WWII to make the case for racially profiling American Muslims last weekend, he caused an uproar. And rightfully so. Hoenig's comments were clearly meant to drum up even more racist hysteria aimed at Arab- and Muslim-Americans. But in another way, Hoenig's comments also represented another sad reality of political weekend talk shows: They rarely talk about Asian-Americans, and when they do, the coverage is generally really bad.

According to a new report from ChangeLab, America's Big Five Sunday shows -- "Face the Nation," "Fox News Sunday," "Meet the Press," "State of the Union" and "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" -- are rarely talking about Asian-Americans, the country's fastest growing racial group. Researchers examined over 130 episode transcripts from the Big Five shows between January and June of 2013 and found that Asian-Americans were mentioned just 13 times. 

"It's about time that [Asian-American] stories get told, and not just to benefit [Asian-Americans]," researchers write in the report. "Until our stories are told, our understanding of the experiences and political behavior of every other racial group in America is incomplete."

Read the full report here

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A Look at Williamsburg's Puerto Rican Past and Present

Colorlines - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 09:03
A Look at Williamsburg's Puerto Rican Past and Present

Williamsburg may be known today as one of America's white hipster capitols, but a new neighborhood storytelling project looks at how the neighborhood's working-class Dominican and Puerto Rican residents live and thrive today.

It all started with a 1984 documentary called "Los Sures." In a decade when economic disinvestment and rampant crime plaugued the area, many residents were at their wit's end, but also hopeful that their community could push forward. "I swear, I don't want to live here," says one resident in the film. "I would like to get out of here." The film, directed by Diego Echeverría, was re-released this month as part of this year's New York Film Festival.

On Saturday at the Brooklyn Academy of Music, it screened shortly after an updated version called "Living Los Sures," a collaborative web documentary about today's version of the Southside of Williamsburg. The powerful stories capture a diverse history of the neighborhood and you can listen to them here (grab a pair of headphones).

Here's the trailer for the new project:

LIVING LOS SURES TRAILER from UnionDocs on Vimeo.

(h/t Remezcla)

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Meet the Muslim NFL Player Who Was Penalized for Praying

Colorlines - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 08:54

Kansas City Chief safety Husain Abdullah did what most players do when they make an extraordinary play. Abdullah, a 29-year-old veteran, had just intercepted a pass from New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and returned it for a touchdown. He then slid down on both knees in the end zone and put his head down in prayer. The move earned him a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

Religious celebrations aren't new to the NFL. They happen all the time. "Tebowing," in which former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow got down in the end zone on one knee to thank God, is probably the best known such celebration -- it's even been trademarked.

In recent years, the league has tried to crack down on what it calls excessive celebrations, which usually relate to the elaborate end zone dances that were once popular in the league.

But Abdullah wasn't dancing. He was praying. Tebow did it. Chicago Bears wideout Brandon Marshall's done it, not to mention countless other players. The difference here is that Abdullah is Muslim, not Christian. Whether the game's officiating crew wasn't familiar with Muslim prayers or was intolerant of them is unclear. What is clear is that Abdullah earned a penalty (and, likely, a fine) for doing something that generally goes unpunished by the league.

Several observers noticed the discrepancy, including media commentator Arsalan Iftikhar.

Brandon Marshall gets on knees & raises hands to Jesus after TD..No penalty..Husain Abdullah bows to Mecca..15 yards! pic.twitter.com/6G5sDfaWO0

-- Arsalan Iftikhar™ (@TheMuslimGuy) September 30, 2014

Abdullah is a devout Muslim who grew one of 12 kids in Southern California. He starred at Pomona High School before going to Washington State. Even though he wasn't drafted out of college, Abdullah earned a spot on the Minnesota Vikings roster before being signed by Kansas City. Like many Muslim athletes, he observes fasting for Ramadan during the season and even sat out a year to make Hajj, his pilgrimage to Mecca. 

"I'm putting nothing before God, nothing before my religion," Abdullah told the Huffington Post about his fast in 2010 in a story about how his employer learned to accommodate his needs. "This is something I choose to do, not something I have to do. So I'm always going to fast."

In preparation for his pilgrimage, Abdullah and his brother Hamza embarked on a "30 for 30 Abdullah Brothers Ramadan Tour" in 2012. Their first stop was the Islamic Institute of Orange County where they talked about faith and football. You can see video of the brothers' talk below:

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Hong Kong Protests Continue, Aretha Franklin's Stunning Cover, Ebola's Orphans

Colorlines - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 07:10
Hong Kong Protests Continue, Aretha Franklin's Stunning Cover, Ebola's Orphans

Here's what I'm reading up on this morning: 

  • Pro-democracy student-led protests grow in Hong Kong, just ahead of Chinese National Day. 
  • The seller of a spyware app designed and marketed to abusive stalkers who suspect their partners of cheating is indicted for conspiracy.
  • Walmart stays doing the most, blaming Tracy Morgan for injuries in the car accident he didn't cause. 
  • Remember how Tim Tebow, a Christian, got penalized by the NFL for painting Bible verses on his face and praying? Neither do I. But Husain Abdullah, a Muslim, is penalized by the NFL for his prayer
  • Thousands of Liberian children who've lost their parents to Ebola are deeply shunned
Categories: Diversity Headlines

Hold on, Tiger Mom

New America Media - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 06:05
Less supportive and punitive parenting techniques used by some Chinese parents might lead to the development of low self-esteem and school adjustment difficulties in their children and leave them vulnerable to depression and problem behaviors, according to a paper recently... Sean Nealon http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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College Students Wage Campaign to Kick Teach for America Off of Campus

Colorlines - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 05:44
College Students Wage Campaign to Kick Teach for America Off of Campus

Members of Teach for America's (TFA's) target recruiting base are saying no to the teacher corps recruitment organization. Last week, student activists on a number of campuses including Harvard, Vanderbilt, University of Michigan and Macalester College launched a campaign spearheaded by United Students Against Sweatshops (USAS) to call attention to TFA's recruitment and training practices. Students' demands? To win reforms or force their universities to sever ties with TFA.

On Friday, students at Harvard delivered a letter to university president Drew Faust asking that the institution cut ties with TFA unless the organization makes three key changes by October 8. The demands echo those of USAS-affiliated students at other campuses. The first: that TFA send its teacher recruits to places where there are teacher shortages and not to cities such as Chicago and New Orleans where, USAS argues, TFA corps members are replacing veteran--and unionized--teachers. Second, that TFA train its recruits beyond its standard five-week crash course before sending new corps members into the field. Third, that TFA stop partnering with or accepting money from corporate sponsors including J.P. Morgan Chase and Exxon Mobil. At the heart of their concerns, students say, is what they see as TFA's role in the corporatization of public education. 

"TFA's shift from an organization providing volunteers to overcome teacher shortages to an organization that de-professionalizes the teaching career and displaces veteran teachers has forced us as students to ask our universities to reconsider their relationship with Teach for America," read a letter USAS sent to TFA's co-CEOs Matthew Kramer and Elisa Villanueva Beard and its founder and board chair Wendy Kopp last week.

In a response published Friday, Teach for America took a bright tone, thanking USAS for the public challenge and expressing regret that "a fair amount of misinformation" about TFA's contested impact in cities including Newark, Chicago and New Orleans "made its way to you."

"Our program exists to meet local demand for teachers and long-term education leaders," TFA wrote in its response to USAS, adding that its 32,000 corps members "only apply for open positions." "On the training and support side... we strive to continuously improve our program," the statement read.

Criticism of TFA is not new. To its critics, the model of recruiting and placing brand new college graduates into under-resourced rural and urban schools for two-year stints is indistinguishable from corporate-style education reforms such as school closings and test-based teacher accountability mechanisms that have guided mainstream education reform for the last two decades. In recent years though, former staff and alumni have been among those speaking out about the organization. Last summer, Wendy Heller Chovnick, a former director at Teach for America's Phoenix office, gave a public exit interview about her disillusionment with the organization. And Olivia Blanchard's essay "I Quit Teach for America" published in the Atlantic last year was just the most high-profile of TFA alumni's public critiques. 

"TFA has played a crucial role in displacing teachers who have committed their lives to their communities and justifying school closings. By doing so, [they've] put control over public education in the hands of private groups," says Blake McGhghy, a second-year undergraduate at Harvard with the Student Labor Action Movement. 

But Teach for America's operating theory, says spokesperson Becky O'Neill, is "if we get some of the nation's best minds thinking and working and committed to education, we're going to start seeing change in a system that's not working for low-income students of color." Ninety percent of students taught by corps members are black and Latino, according to TFA. Operating primarily as a "leadership development organization," O'Neill says, "gives us the privilege of being a bit agnostic on some of these reform issues."

>Still, the organization operates in the highly politicized world of education reform, and it's a political powerhouse in its own right. Many of the lightning-rod education reformers in the nation today got their start in education as TFA corps members. Newark schools superintendent Cami Anderson, Tennessee education commissioner Kevin Huffman, former Washington, D.C., schools chief Michelle Rhee and Louisiana state superintendent John White are but a small collection of TFA alumni who've gone on to champion an education reform agenda that calls for charter school expansion, test-based teacher accountability mechanisms and school closures, all of which have been largely targeted at students of color. 

"While our university is complicit in the corporate education reform movement and plays a huge part in driving it forward, we're asking students not to accept this model," says Harvard undergrad McGhghy.

"I myself have experienced TFA," says Vanderbilt University sophomore Dani Lea when asked why she decided to take part in the USAS campaign. Lea, who is African American, describes a bad experience with TFA corps members at her Charlotte, North Carolina, high school. "I had some teachers via TFA who weren't competent and didn't really know their subject matter and what was happening and who just weren't very good teachers." 

"A lot of teachers quit before their two years were up, and some teachers who you heard were really good teachers, by the time you got to their level to take their class, they were gone," Lea says. Now that she's in college, Lea says that many students on her campus think of TFA as merely a resume booster. She spoke of a Vanderbilt classmate who wants to do Teach for America and then go to culinary school. 

Indeed, TFA's own recruitment policies contribute to the notion that it's a stepping stone for those who would otherwise not take a two-year detour into the classroom. For example, TFA partners with top business, education, law and medical schools to grant two-year deferrals and application fee waivers for TFA alumni. On its website, TFA lists finance and consulting giants such as Deloitte, Ernst & Young, McKinsey & Co. and Bain and Company as companies that offer deferrals to new hires. 

"This idea that people are going into the classroom as a stepping stone to other things--it's a tough stepping stone," says TFA's O'Neill. According to its annual alumni surveys, says O'Neill, 64 percent of TFA's 37,000 alumni are working in education in some capacity, while 31 percent are pre-kindergarten through twelfth-grade teachers. 

On October 10, Harvard students will host a speaking tour featuring TFA alumni. At Vanderbilt, says Lea, students are uniting to make demands of their university administration similar to those of Harvard students. Their short-term goal is to shut off the recruitment juggernaut that has made Vanderbilt the second-highest contributor of new recruits among medium-sized schools (PDF) this year.

"We realize we have a lot of political education we need to do," says McGhghy. "At the individual level we're hoping to connect with students and inform them that if they want to support public education there are better ways to do it."

Categories: Diversity Headlines

In the Shadow of the Border Wall

New America Media - Tue, 09/30/2014 - 02:15
In downtown Tijuana, a huge concrete channel was built to house the Tijuana River. The river rises in Sierra de Juarez in the south, and eventually crosses the border five miles before it reaches the beach. Only a trickle of... David Bacon http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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California Becomes First in the Nation to Limit Suspensions for Willful Defiance

Colorlines - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 13:41
California Becomes First in the Nation to Limit Suspensions for Willful Defiance

Last week California became the first state in the country to ban the use of suspensions and expulsions for "willful defiance" for its youngest public school students, the Sacramento Bee reported.

California Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 420 into law on Saturday. The law bans California public schools from suspending or expelling kindergarten through third-grade students for offenses described as "willful defiance."

"Willful defiance" is a category of subjective and minor offenses that account for 43 percent of suspensions in California public schools, according to the ACLU. Every year California public schools issue more than 10,000 suspensions for willful defiance for students between kindergarten and third grade alone, the Los Angeles Times reported. It's also the category of school offense with the highest racial disparities. 

In the 2012-2013 school year, African-Americans were just 6 percent of the state's public school enrollment but made up a whopping 19 percent of those who received suspensions for willful defiance, EdSource reported. The bill, authored by a coalition of civil rights and community advocacy groups, comes alongside a growing national conversation about the school-to-prison pipeline and the overuse of school discipline. 

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Daisy Hernández Writes About Race and The New York Times

Colorlines - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 12:37
Daisy Hernández Writes About Race and The New York Times

Last week's reaction to TV critic Alessandra Stanley's "Angry Black Woman" review of Shonda Rhimes and Viola Davis opened the window, ever so slightly, into the privileged world of The New York Times. The fallout, as informed by the Times' public editor, revealed that two of the paper's 20 critics are people of color and that three editors approved Stanley's piece for publication. Now author Daisy Hernández (and former editor of Colorlines) is opening that window just a tad more with an excerpt from her new memoir,"A Cup of Water Under My Bed." Hernández who recently shared with Colorlines the eight books that define her, writes about being Latina in a majority white male office and how it shaped her time at The Times, first as an intern and then, a staffer:

"Did you hear?" another intern asks me [about Jayson Blair, accused in 2003 of plagiarizing and fabricating stories].

I nod. "Crazy." I figure the paper will run an apology and move on.

But there isn't an apology. The story unravels. The anxieties of white people, the ones kept behind private doors, burst and the other newspapers report them: Jayson only got as far as he did because he's black. A fellow intern comes up to me, irritated. "Why are people thinking it's okay to say racist shit in front of me?"

She's holding a cup of coffee. We both glance across the newsroom, across the cubicles and the tops of people's heads. I have no way, none really, of knowing who in the room is a Mr. Flaco, and this is part of the agreement we make by working here, as people of color. We don't know who harbors doubts about our capacity to think and work and write. We don't know, not really, who we can trust.

Read more about Hernández and her Cuban-Colombian family at Salon.

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Narendra Modi Suggests more Reforms at UN, Seeks Greater Role for India

New America Media - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 12:28
 United Nations: Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi made his case for giving nations contributing troops to United Nations' peacekeeping operations more say in decision-making at his meeting with Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Saturday as he pitched for more reforms in the... India West http://publisher.namx.org/mt-cp.cgi?__mode=view&blog_id=19&id=103
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Talib Kweli: Lauryn Hill Doesn't Owe Us Anything

Colorlines - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 11:27
 Lauryn Hill Doesn't Owe Us Anything

Lauryn Hill is one of the few artists who can still ignite passionate responses in fans. The woman who gave us two modern hip-hop classics in the Fugees' second album, "The Score," and her 1998 hit "The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill" has, in the more than 15 years since she backed away from the spotlight, become a lightening rod for criticism. The complaints are all over the place: She hasn't released an album since 2002, is late to shows, dresses funny, has too many kids, doesn't pay taxes and is homophobic (more on this later). 

The complaints aren't new, but they resurfaced recently in a piece on Medium by white, male writer Stefan Schumacher called "It's Finally Time to Stop Caring About Lauryn Hill." In it, Schumacher writes about what he calls "Hill's erratic behavior, paranoid, and overt religious fixation" and levels the pretty weighty claim that Hill's dealing with "something more akin to mental illness." Schumacher writes:

It occurred to me that, as great as Miseducation and The Fugees' The Score are, they're part of a distant past. Lauryn Hill was a great artist. She's not anymore and it's time we stop holding her in that regard, waiting for her to pay off on a promise that's long since expired.

Talib Kweli doesn't agree. In a response on Medium, the rapper makes the case the artists are not products and Lauryn Hill's personal life is none of her fans' business:

When you pay for a Lauryn Hill concert you are not paying for her to do what you want, you are paying for her to do what she wants. She is not an iPod nor is she a trained monkey. She doesn't have to do her hits and she doesn't have to do the songs the way you want to hear them. She doesn't owe you that. The world does not revolve around you, and you ain't gotta like it. Get over yourself. If you have a negative experience at her concert, go home, put on The Miseducation of Lauryn Hill and the next time she does come through your town, don't go to her concert. Problem solved. Just because you had a negative experience at a Lauryn Hill show doesn't mean her contribution to the world is invalid or deserves to be disrespected.

But even for those who agree wholeheartedly with Kweli's points, not all of Hill's critics are totally off base. For instance, take the anti-gay lyrics in one of her most recent songs from last summer, "Neurotic Society," in which she compares "social transvestism," "drag queens" and "girl men" to "pimps," "pushers," and "serial criminals." In a written defense of the song, Hill wrote on her Tumblr: "Everyone has a right to their own beliefs," she wrote. "Although I do not necessarily agree with what everyone says or does, I do believe in everyone's right to protest."

Those are words that more or less prove Kweli's point: Hill is a person, not a product, and fans don't have to agree with her -- or listen. 

Categories: Diversity Headlines

Where Are You From?

Hyphen Blog - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 08:35

Vishavjit Singh, creator of the popular Sikhtoons, shares a story and cartoon about complicated identities.

read more

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'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' in Hong Kong Protests?

Colorlines - Mon, 09/29/2014 - 07:57
'Hands Up, Don't Shoot' in Hong Kong Protests?

Observers of this weekend's youth-led demonstrations in Hong Kong have noticed a familiar gesture: Ferguson protesters' "hands up, don't shoot." Coming little more than a month after some Palestinians Tweeted teargas advice to Ferguson's protesters, "hands up" in Hong Kong appears to confirm that Ferguson's influence has gone global. 

Hands up don't shoot is being used by tens of thousands as a form of protest in Hong Kong. Powerful. pic.twitter.com/on2DY5FrQH

-- Alex Medina (@mrmedina) September 28, 2014

Vox reports however, "It's impossible to say the degree to which protesters are using the gesture as a deliberate nod to Ferguson, or borrowing something they'd seen on the news for their own purposes, or using it coincidentally." And Quartz's Lily Kuo, reporting from the ground in Hong Kong, has this to say:

Most Hong Kong protesters aren't purposefully mimicking "hands up, don't shoot,"as some have suggested. Instead, the gesture is a result of training and instructions from protest leaders, who have told demonstrators to raise their hands with palms forward to signal their peaceful intentions to police.

Asked about any link between the gesture and Ferguson, Icy Ng, a 22-year-old design student at Hong Kong Polytechnic University said, "I don't think so. We have our hands up for showing both the police and media that we have no weapons in our hands." Ng had not heard of the Ferguson protests. Another demonstrator, with the pro-democracy group Occupy Central, Ellie Ng said the gesture had nothing to do with Ferguson and is intended to demonstrate that "Hong Kong protesters are peaceful, unarmed, and mild." 

In Ferguson, where street demonstrations are still happening, reporter Amanda Wills found one protester with a soldarity message for Hong Kong. Read more at Mashable.com. And learn about Hong Kong's democracy demonstrations, which have drawn thousands, through the eyes of Joshua Wong, one of its 17-year-old leaders.

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