Racial Tension Involving Teenagers Ends in Death Threats

Last week a picture portraying racial tension surfaced from an incident at the Lincoln Memorial and the teenagers involved have now been the recipients of death threats.

Racial Tension

Photo by: jar [o]
You’ve seen it – the young white teenage male with a little smile on his face, wearing a “Make America Great Again” hat. He is looking at an angry looking Native American carrying a drum. The old adage says “a picture cannot lie”, however a picture does not always present the whole truth. This picture went viral on social media; it popped up on many people’s home page and created public outrage, which resulted in death threats.

Many sides to the story

The picture appears to involve a group of white teenagers and a group of Native Americans. This would lead people to believe that there are only two groups involved, however there are three sides to this story and all three sides have some similarities and some discrepancies. All agree that the event took place outside the Lincoln Memorial on Friday, January 18th. All three agree that there were three separate demonstrations going on a march for the Indigenous Peoples, a March for Life, and a group preaching the bible and their beliefs. All three agree that there were hostile words spoken and raised voices. The rest is up for interpretation.

Hebrew Israelites’ Side

The Hebrew Israelites were at the National Mall to “preach the truth of the Bible”, to teach their belief that African ’Americans are God’s chosen people. One member of the Hebrew Israelite said while they were trying to teach the Native Americans of the meaning of the word savages, the teenagers were mocking them and shouting racist slurs. The Hebrew Israelites believe the students were at fault for the incident.

The Native American Side

The spokesman for the Native Americans said that throughout the day the teenagers had been walking around making derogatory comments about the Blacks and about the Native Americans. Then there was a shouting match with heated words between the students and the Hebrew Israelites. The Native Americans began playing a prayer chant on the drums and walking between the two groups to try to calm both groups down. They accused the teenagers of making fun of the Native American heritage by making chopping motions with their hands. The Native Americans were walking between the students towards a meeting place at the front of the mall, but one teenager stood with a smirk on his face. The Native American believed this was illustrative of the years of built-up aggression against the Natives by whites. The Native Americans believe the Hebrew Israelites and the students were at fault for the incident.

The Teenager’s Side

The teenage in the photo was with a group of Catholic students in Kentucky protesting against abortion. The Hebrew Israelites had been shouting hateful comments to the students and the Native Americans throughout the day. When the Hebrew Israelites were calling the Native Americans savages, the group decided to chant cheers from sporting events to try and drown out the hateful words. One young black student responded to the insults by taking off his shirt and jumping along with the chants. When the Native Americans began to walk through the students, the teenagers were confused about what was going on so the pictured teen stood still with a small smile on his face, hoping to appear non-confrontational. Since the incident, the teens have started receiving death threats for their part in the situation.

Conclusion

The true story often lies somewhere in between each side’s story. Reality is often based on a each person’s past and beliefs. Interviews with bystanders are very different to each other and to the three groups. What may be dancing to one person would appear to be mocking to another. What may be a non-confrontational pose to one person may be an insult and an invitation to fight to another. When these incidents arise no one, including the youth, are exempt from the rising tensions. If you or your teen are facing legal action for violent or threatening behavior that could have risen based on a racially or otherwise tense situation, contact a defense attorney.

Underage Drinking on Prom Night Likely Cause of Deadly Utah Crash

A deadly car crash that occurred near Moab, Utah following prom night was likely caused by underage drinking mixed with excessive vehicle speed.

2 teenagers dead and 3 critically injured

Underage Drinking
Photo by: Josh Hallet

In the early morning hours following a prom dance the night before, five teenagers were driving a 2003 Subaru Impreza when the vehicle left the roadway and rolled several times. Three of the teens in the vehicle were ejected; two of those ejected were killed; 16 year old Conner Denney and 14 year old Taylor Bryant. The other teen ejected and the two teens in the car were all flown to area hospitals in critical condition. Police believe that the crash was due to driving at high speeds mixed with underage drinking.

Underage drinking and driving

Underage drinking can be hazardous, especially when inexperienced drivers attempt to operate a vehicle under the influence. The state of Utah has decided that adults who have years of experience driving should still refrain from driving if their blood alcohol limit is over .05%. Teens who drink are known to far surpass this limit. Instead of enjoying a beer with dinner like a responsible adult, teens are more likely to binge drink, making them very drunk in a short period of time.

Alcohol and the teen brain

Photo by: wyinoue
Photo by: wyinoue

Even if a teenager stays away from vehicles when drunk, the alcohol can have damaging effects on their body, especially the growing and maturing brain. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, “the adolescent brain may be uniquely sensitive to alcohol’s effects because major changes in brain structure and function occur during this developmental period. ( . . . ) Alcohol exposure during adolescence can have long-lasting effects and may interfere with normal brain functioning during adulthood.”

Other health risks

There are more health risks associated with underage drinking that teens should be aware of such as: potentially fatal alcohol poisoning which can occur from drinking too much too quickly; permanent liver damage from elevated liver enzymes caused by underage drinking; damage to growth hormone production which can alter puberty. Additionally, it is difficult for teens to understand alcoholism should they become addicted and they are less likely to seek help due to them being under the legal age to consume alcohol.

Criminal penalties

Photo by: Sonny Abesamis
Photo by: Sonny Abesamis

Beyond the health risks, there are criminal penalties for those who choose to engage in underage drinking and even far greater penalties if someone is hurt or killed because of a DUI. For teens who are facing criminal charges due to underage drinking or drinking and driving, contact a juvenile defense attorney immediately.

Utah Sexting Laws

With the majority of Utah kids having their first cell phone by age 10-12, it is important that parents discuss sexting laws and how they apply to minors.

Utah Sexting Laws
Photo by: Summer Skyes 11

Electronic dirty talk

One practice that continues to rise in popularity among Utah teens is sexting. According to dictionary.com, sexting is defined as “the sending of sexually explicit photos, images, text messages, or e-mails by using a cell phone or other mobile device.” While many teens get away with sexting time and time again, it is against the law and will result in criminal penalties if they are caught.

Utah sexting laws

Currently every state has a law that criminalizes sexting that includes images of minors, although many states group sexting in with child pornography or sexual exploitation of a minor. There are three laws in the Utah State Code that teens should be aware of before they send, receive, or share explicit images or videos of other teens.

Sexual exploitation of a minor

According to Utah Code 76-5b-201, “(1) A person is guilty of sexual exploitation of a minor: when the person:

(i) knowingly produces, possesses, or possesses with intent to distribute child pornography; or

(ii) intentionally distributes or views child pornography; ( . . . )

Sexual exploitation of a minor is a second degree felony and charges for sexual exploitation of a minor can be multiplied depending on how many minors are depicted and/or how many times the same minor appears in different pictures or videos.

Giving explicit material to minors

Photo by: Leo Hildalgo
Photo by: Leo Hildalgo

Utah Code 76-10-1206 warns “(1)A person is guilty of dealing in material harmful to minors when, knowing or believing that a person is a minor, or having negligently failed to determine the proper age of a minor, the person intentionally:

(a) distributes or offers to distribute, or exhibits or offers to exhibit, to a ( . . . ), any material harmful to minors;

(b) produces, performs, or directs any performance, before a minor ( . . . ) that is harmful to minors; or

(c) participates in any performance, before a minor ( . . . ) that is harmful to minors.

(2) (a) Each separate offense under this section committed by a person 18 years of age or older is a third degree felony ( . . . )

(b) Each separate offense under this section committed by a person 16 or 17 years of age is a class A misdemeanor.

(c) Each separate offense under this section committed by a person younger than 16 years of age is a class B misdemeanor.”

Distributing porn

Utah code 76-10-1203 states “(1) Any material or performance is pornographic if:

(a) The average person, applying contemporary community standards, finds that, taken as a whole, it appeals to prurient interest in sex;

(b) It is patently offensive in the description or depiction of nudity, sexual conduct, sexual excitement, sadomasochistic abuse, or excretion; and

(c) Taken as a whole it does not have serious literary, artistic, political or scientific value.”

If someone shares or otherwise distributes or attempts to distribute pornographic material, adults 18 and older may face a third degree felony for each item of pornographic material shared or produced while 16-17 year olds face a class A misdemeanor, and under 16 year olds face a class B misdemeanor.

Photo by: Maurizio Pesce
Photo by: Maurizio Pesce

What’s posted on the internet stays on the internet

With so many options to “delete” content shared, too many teens have the false sense of security that they can share a picture or video briefly and never have to worry about it again. Unfortunately, what’s posted on the internet stays on the internet. Besides other individuals who screenshot or otherwise save things they’ve been sent online, the internet has a way of somehow storing embarrassing or incriminating pictures forever. It is important to warn teens that sexually explicit images or videos that are shared can resurface and that type of content will result in criminal charges.

Blended Sentencing for Utah Juveniles

There is a steady debate on whether or not Utah teenagers charged with serious crimes should face juvenile or adult penalties yet the answer isn’t always black and white; this is where blended sentencing comes in to offer another solution.

Adult crimes committed by kids

Blended Sentencing
Photo by: Rae Allen

With the threat of rising violent crimes among Utah juveniles and the desire for public safety, it may seem easy to sentence teenagers as adults and let them spend years to decades behind bars. This only solves a temporary problem of young violent offenders on the streets, yet it will create even greater problems of overly crowded prisons and kids who finish growing and maturing while behind bars with little to no rehabilitation.

Blended Sentencing

Blended sentencing is a way for the juvenile courts and adult courts to work together to give teens charged with serious offenses a chance for redemption while still under the control of the juvenile court. The teens are given a disposition order or sentencing through the juvenile court that can include treatment such as education and counseling following vital mental health and behavioral evaluations and testing while also dealing punishments such as detention, probation, and/or community service. The teens will also have a sentence for their crimes through the adult court that is temporarily taken off the table while they are under the jurisdiction of the juvenile courts.

Incentive for good behavior

A Second Chance
Photo by: Alyssa L. Miller

After the juvenile disposition or sentencing, teens who respond favorably to treatment and complete their terms in the juvenile system without any problems will not have to face the adult sentence waiting for them. They will finish their time in the juvenile system and be free, reformed adults. If they fail to resolve their criminal behavior and continue to commit other offenses during their juvenile disposition, the adult sentence is then brought back to the table and the teen may face time in adult jail or prison once they are of legal age and no longer in the juvenile system.

Teenagers deserve another chance

The adolescent years are a crucial time of growing and maturing during which most teens are still searching for their own identity while making plans for the future. Their future life as adults should not include incarceration for stupid mistakes they made as kids. Juveniles who are facing serious charges in which they could be charged as adults are encouraged to speak to a juvenile defense attorney about blended sentencing and rehabilitation versus imprisonment.

Criminal Charges for Stalking a Crush

Adolescent relationships are difficult and confusing already without adding the possibility of criminal charges for stalking a crush.

Don’t be creepy

Stalking
Photo by: Jonathan Kos-Read

Teenagers frequently have a hard time approaching and asking out someone they like with fear of being turned down and humiliated. Instead of getting up the nerve to talk to their crush, some may linger nearby–watching, sneaking a picture or two to gawk at with friends, and maybe going as far as sending their crush an anonymous text. While this may seem like innocent behavior from a shy, love-struck individual, the one being stalked may be creeped out and file charges.

Stalking

When a person becomes aware they have someone tailing them, instead of being flattered it can be upsetting. They may notice someone observing them who stays hidden and never makes eye contact which can cause the crush to become fearful of the person’s intentions and therefore scared of being harmed. When the situation makes the crush worried or scared, it can be considered stalking.

Criminal charges

Photo by: Scott Comptois
Photo by: Scott Comptois

According to Utah State Code “a person is guilty of stalking who intentionally or knowingly engages in a course of conduct [such as following, photographing, communicating, threatening] directed at a specific person and knows or should know that the course of conduct would cause a reasonable person: to fear for the person’s own safety ( . . . ); or to suffer other emotional distress.” A first violation of stalking is a class A misdemeanor. Subsequent violations could result in felony charges. Since many cases of stalking among teenager could be the result of an innocent crush, it is important to talk to a juvenile defense attorney to help clear the air and ward off potential charges.