The creative cost of gun violence on students
As students call on elected officials to take action to keep their schools and communities safe, it’s worth considering the toll all this trauma has on their ability to innovate and dream.
👋🏾 Hi, hey, hello! Welcome to Supercreator Daily, your weekday morning guide to the politicians, power brokers and policies shaping the American creator experience. It’s Wednesday, April 5.
FIRST THINGS FIRST
The center of the political universe may have been in New York City on Tuesday due to the historic indictment of former President Donald Trump, but another one of the country’s most consequential stories can be found more than 880 miles southwest in Tennessee.
In the days since three nine-year-old students and three adults were killed in a school shooting last week, young people have swarmed the state capitol in Nashville to demand lawmakers take action to prevent gun violence.
In response, Tennessee Republicans stripped two Democrats of their committee assignments for their and another Democrat’s role in the protest. (The Democrats interrupted a debate about an education bill to lead the protesters in their demonstration without being recognized to speak, a violation of floor procedure that typically carries less punitive consequences.
The Republicans took the first steps earlier this week to expel the three Democratic members altogether.
“What we’re seeing from Florida to Tennessee, in the United States, are Republican officials who are doubling down on dangerous bills that make our schools, places of worship, and communities less safe,” White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierretold reporters on Tuesday. “And so, by doing what they’re doing with these three Democratic legislators, they’re shrugging in the face of yet another tragic school shooting while our kids continue to pay the price.”
Students plan national walkout: Students Demand Action, an organization of young activists committed to ending gun violence, will lead a series of school walkouts today to call on lawmakers to pass gun safety legislation at all levels.
“We know this work takes all of us,” the organizers write on their activation toolkit. “And that’s why we are continuing to make sure that when we walk into school, we are guaranteed to walk out.”
The creative cost: Whenever I talk to young activists in the gun violence prevention movement at events on Capitol Hill, I often ask them if the relentless trauma from school shootings impacts their ability to explore their creativity in the classroom. The answer, as you can assume, is almost always yes.
Robert Schentrup, organizing manager at Team ENOUGH, a youth-led organization whose mission is to educate young voices about gun violence and mobilize them to take meaningful action against it, told Supercreator that many of the students he works with have a background in theater, visual arts and music. And while the overwhelming fear of gun violence at their school impacts their ability to feel safe and allows them to be imaginative, they’re also resilient enough to channel their creativity into shaping the future they want to see.
“I think it’s really important for folks, especially those who are creatives, to always be envisioning and thinking about different possible futures. And I think that it’s that imagination and that creativity that fuels the movement, Schentrup said. “It’s the creative, imaginative, and disruptive actions that are usually the ones that create the most change.”
Leave your defeatism at the door: Despite all the optimism and possibility creativity offers young people and adults alike, Schentrup said that the biggest hurdle Team ENOUGH face is the belief that gun violence is an inevitable tradeoff for a free society.
“It’s this attitude of defeatism that breeds apathy, right? And they’re very related to each other,” he added. “And it’s the work to talk to other young people and say, ‘No, there is something that we can do.’ But it takes imagination, it takes creation, and it takes building a positive vision for the future in order to try and help people understand that something is different.”
Movements in the past have turned to fear-mongering to overcome the doomsday outlook. But Schentrup said that when organizers and activists try to scare people into taking action on an issue, it has the reverse effect of causing them to throw their hands up in the air with helplessness.
“So what we try and do is form a generative vision for what can be. What does a future free from gun violence look like? What will happen when we get rid of the gun violence epidemic? What are the possible futures that exist within that?”
Activists by circumstance: It’s easy to be impressed and inspired by the generations following us. But this admiration leads to grownups watching young people work towards change instead of co-creating the future with them.
In fact, Schentrup shared a thought I’ve heard from many youth activists: The fact that these kids have to take the lead on the big issues is a searing indictment of the fact older generations haven’t done enough
“It’s really frustrating that a lot of times folks take the wrong message here, which is that no, we’re in this because we need more people in this fight,” he said. “We need more people in this movement. This is not an excuse to step back. This is not an excuse to not be engaged.”
The congressional divide: This is a message that goes for Congress too. But lawmakers are on recess for the next week and a half, which leaves them insulated in their districts away from the scrutiny of national reporters. And before they left Washington, they could barely agree on the root causes of gun violence in schools and communities.
As I reported on Monday, congressional Democrats concede that the political environment is way too polarized to even think an assault weapons ban, which President Joe Biden is pushing for, can pass in a divided Congress where Republicans control the House and at least nine Republicans would have to join Democrats in the Senate. So even if there’s the political will for incrementalism when Congress returns later this month, there probably won’t be the math to pass any meaningful legislation.
Until then, students will be out in front — even if they have to walk out of their schools to do so.
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Here’s what else you need to know today:
Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg unsealed the 16-page indictment and 13-page statement of facts against former President Donald Trump after Trump was arraigned on Tuesday. The indictment includes 34 felony counts of falsification of business records in the first degree and is in connection with allegations that Trump paid hush money to sex worker Stormy Daniels ahead of the 2016 election in exchange for her silence about an encounter they had years earlier.
Related: The next court date is December 4. Prosecutors hope to begin the trial in January 2024 although Trump’s attorneys have requested a spring 2024 start date.
Progressive Brandon Johnson was elected as mayor of Chicago over his more moderate opponent in a race that was defined by a fierce debate over public education and public safety. Johnson replaces outgoing Democratic Mayor Lori Lightfoot who became the first Chicago mayor in 40 years to lose re-election after making history as the first Black woman and openly gay person to lead the city.
Janet Protasiewicz was elected to the Wisconsin Supreme Court in a decisive victory that will shape the future of abortion rights and likely lead to the undoing of gerrymandered legislative maps in the presidential battleground state ahead of the 2024 election.
Republican Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith of Mississippi announced she won’t return a blue slip for Scott Colom, a Biden nominee for the Northern District of Mississippi. Blue slips are recommendations from senators from the state where a federal judicial nominee resides and taken into consideration by the Senate Judiciary Committee when deciding whether to advance the nominee to a full Senate confirmation vote. Demand Justice, a progressive judicial reform advocacy group, has led a movement calling on Dick Durbin the number-two Senate Democrat and chairman of the Judiciary Committee to end the blue-slip process because it says Republicans are abusing it to block well-qualified Biden nominees.
Democratic Reps. Bobby Scott of Virginia, Frank Pallone of New Jersey and Richie Neal of Massachusetts submitted comments to the Departments of Health and Human Services, Labor and the Treasury in support of proposed rules to ensure access to no-cost coverage for reproductive health care under the Affordable Care Act. Last week, a conservative District Court judge in Texas weakened this protection by ruling to restrict the forms of preventive care that must be covered.
Democratic Reps. Ruben Gallego of Arizona and Jeff Jackson of North Carolina introduced a bill that would eliminate junk fees — the hidden charges imposed on consumers when purchasing tickets, hotel rooms, and other forms of entertainment — and require the full prices of services be provided upfront. (Democratic Sens. Richard Blumenthal of Connecticut and Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island introduced the Senate companion of the bill.) As I reported last month, President Biden has made junk fees the focal point of his economic agenda and the administration feels as though his position on the issue are both policy and political winners because it’s easy for most people to understand and consumers can receive immediately relief when companies waive these charges instead of waiting years for a piece of major legislation to kick in.
The Justice Department issued a final rule that will allow individuals placed in home confinement during the pandemic and in good standing to stay home. Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee applauded the decision as one that “brings a case-by-case, individualized approach to rehabilitation.”
The Wall Street Journal announced that lawyers retained by the newspaper met with Evan Gershkovich, the WSJ reporter who was arrested on bogus charges of espionage last week, in prison on Tuesday. “Evan’s health is good and he is grateful for the outpouring of support from around the world,” WSJ editor Emma Tucker said in a statement. “We continue to call for his immediate release.”
Related: White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters that the State Department is still completing its process to designate Gershkovich as a wrongful detainee, which she said would enable the administration to collaboratively work with colleagues inside and outside the government to develop a strategy to secure his release. Jean-Pierre declined to comment on if and when President Biden would speak with Gershkovich’s family or leaders at the WSJ but said the case is a priority for him.
Finland joined the NATO military alliance as its 31st country on Tuesday, a move that doubles Russia’s border with the world’s biggest security alliance and deals a major blow to Vladimir Putin who has used NATO’s expansion in part to justify his invasion of Ukraine.
Related: President Biden also said he looked forward to welcoming Sweden to NATOas soon as possible. The nordic country’s membership remains blocked by Turkey and Hungary.
The White House announced two new security assistance packages worth a combined $2.6 billion and that include significant new air defense capabilities along with more of the ammunition and weapons Ukraine has used to defend itself against Russia’s invasion.
Related: President Biden spoke with President Emmanuel Macron of France about Macron’s upcoming visit to China. The two leaders also reiterated their support for Ukraine, according to a readout from the White House.
President Biden spoke with King Charles III on Tuesday to congratulate him on his upcoming coronation and share that First Lady Dr. Jill Biden will be attending on behalf of the US. The president also said he told King Charles that he hoped they could meet in the United Kingdom at a future date.
President Biden congratulated the LSU women’s basketball and Connecticut men’s basketball teams on their national championship wins during this year’s March Madness and said he looked forward to welcoming them at each of their White House visits.
Vanessa Valdivia, press secretary for Dr. Biden, said her suggestion that the Iowa women’s basketball team be invited to the White House despite losing to LSU in the national championship game “were intended to applaud the historic game and all women athletes.”
All times Eastern:
President Biden will receive his daily intelligence briefing (9:30 a.m.) and have lunch with Vice President Harris (10:00 a.m.).
The vice president will also participate in a moderated conversation on her trip to Africa this week at the National Museum of African American History and Culture.
Dr. Biden will arrive in Portland, Maine (10:45 a.m.) and visit a local community college to discuss workforce training programs and community colleges (11:15 a.m.). Education Secretary Miguel Cardona will join her. The first lady will then travel arrive in Burlington, Vermont (1:30 p.m.) where she and Cardona will visit an electric aerospace company to discuss career opportunities in emerging industries like clean energy (2:00 p.m.). Republican Gov. Phil Scott will join Dr. Biden and Cardona. She will also the join the Embassy of the Netherlands Tulip Christening Ceremony in Washington, D.C. as part of Dutch Tulip Days (5:15 p.m.)
The House and Senate are out.
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