Tag Archives: Houston

Univ Warns Profs To Avoid Sensitive Topics Since Armed Students May Snap And Kill Them

By Blake Neff – The University of Houston’s (UH) faculty senate has issued a strong set of warnings to professors suggesting they avoid controversial topics in order to avoid provoking armed students.

Last year, Texas’s legislature passed S.B. 11, which requires public colleges to allow the concealed carry of handguns on campus by those who have permits to do so. Faculty at many schools have responded with outrage, claiming the law, which takes effect next August, exposes them to undue danger.

The PowerPoint slide created by UH’s faculty senate to advise faculty about the new law represents one of the most hyperbolic reactions by academia yet, suggesting they all substantially alter their behavior to avoid the risk of an armed student flying off the handle and gruesomely gunning them down.

“Drop certain topics from your curriculum,” it warns. “[Do] not ‘go there’ if you sense anger. Limit student access off hours … only meet ‘that student’ in controlled circumstances.”

A photo of the slide was posted online by a UH doctoral student, with a full copy later appearing at Inside Higher Ed:

The slide was written by Jonathan Snow, an earth science professor and the president of the faculty senate. Snow told Inside Higher Ed the slide was intended to encapsulate the danger to academic freedom posed by the new law.

“The intrusion of gun culture onto campus inevitably harms the academic enterprise in a myriad of ways,” he said. Maria Gonzalez, an English professor, expressed a similar fear that a “volatile” student in her class could snap and resort to violence during a lecture on Marxist or queer theory.

While the recommendations were created by the faculty senate, UH administrators were quick to point out the guidelines were not endorsed by the university itself.

Despite the faculty senate’s fears, it’s not clear legalizing campus carry will drastically increase the danger posed to professors. Campus carry is already legal in several states, including Colorado and Utah, but there has been no spate of faculty assassinations attributable to them.

The slideshow is just the latest example of faculty expressing their widespread opposition to the new law. Hundreds of faculty at the University of Texas have signed a petition against the new law, and one of them has even blamed the law for his decision to accept a new academic position with the University of Sydney.

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City of Houston demands Pastors turn over sermons

HOUSTON, October 15, 2014 – The city of Houston has issued subpoenas to a group of local pastors demanding that they turn over all sermons and communications that pertain to the Houston Equal Rights Ordinance, a measure that was approved by the city council this past June. The ordinance, which is also commonly referred to as the “bathroom bill” is a set of non-discrimination laws that specifically aim to protect transgender rights.

Under these subpoenas, pastors must hand over any sermons that have dealt with homosexuality, gender identity or Annise Parker, the city’s first openly gay mayor. Pastors who fail to comply with the demands could be held in contempt of court.

Christina Halcomb, an attorney for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the national law firm that is representing the five Houston pastors, stated, “The city’s subpoena of sermons and other pastoral communications is both needless and unprecedented.” Halcomb continued stating, “The city council and its attorneys are engaging in an inquisition designed to stifle any critique of its actions.”

ADF filed a motion to stop the subpoenas claiming the motions are “overbroad, unduly burdensome, harassing, and vexatious.”

The non-discrimination laws were implemented to, among other things, allow men to use ladies restrooms and vice versa. The ordinance was met with fierce opposition and a petition that according the Houston Chronicle reportedly garnered over 50,000 signatures, a number that far surpassed the 17,269 required to put a referendum on the ballot. However, the petition was thrown out by the city in August over alleged irregularities.

The subpoenas against the Houston pastors were issued after a lawsuit was filed against the city by petitioners. Though the pastors were not included in the lawsuit’s filings, they were included in a group of over 400 Houston based churches that opposed the ordinance.

Steve Riggle, the senior pastor of Grace Community Church stated, “This is an attempt to chill pastors from speaking to the cultural issues of the day.” Riggle went on to state, “The mayor would like to silence our voice. She’s a bully.”

David Welch, another pastor among the group subpoened, who serves as the pastor for Bear Creek Church and also as the director for the Houston Area Pastor Council stated, “We’re not afraid of this bully. We’re not intimidated at all.” Welch went on to state, “We are not going to yield our First Amendment rights. This is absolutely a complete abuse of authority.”

Tony Perkins, the head of the Family Research Council stated, “The state is breaching the wall of separation between church and state. Pastors need to step forward and challenge this across the country. I’d like to see literally thousands of pastors after they read this story begin to challenge government authorities – to dare them to come into their churches and demand their sermons.”

Mayor Parker will not publicly state why she wants the pastors’ sermons. When contacted, Janice Evans, the mayor’s director of communications, only stated, “We don’t comment on litigation.”

However, ADF attorney Erik Stanley believes this is an attempt to shame pastors and publicly paint them as anti-gay bigots. Stanley stated, “This is designed to intimidate pastors.”

“City council members are supposed to be public servants, not ‘Big Brother’ overlords who will tolerate no dissent or challenge,” Stanley stated.


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VIDEO: Family Releases Video of Man Being Killed by Fort Bend Officer (graphic)

Houston, Texas, May 10, 2014- On Wednesday the family of a man killed during a police shooting released video footage showing the final minutes of his life. The shooting occurred when Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Office (FBCSO) deputies were responding to a 911 call on the evening of Nov. 4, 2013, at the home of Michael Blair.

Blair, who had been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, was threatening suicide and had locked himself in a bathroom. When deputies arrived they first knocked on the bathroom door, asked Blair how he was doing, if he was dressed and to come out and speak to the officers.

The officer then told Blair that if he didn’t open the door he would kick it in.

“Michael? You want to do this the easy way, don’t make us do it the hard way,” the officer could be heard saying on the video.

Another officer then picked the door lock and opened it slightly before yelling, “He’s got a knife” prior to Blair slamming the door closed.

During the confrontation Blair was struck numerous times with a stun gun, but refused officers commands to drop the knife. The final seconds of the video show Blair stumble towards the bathroom doorway as a deputy yells at him to stop, at which point the officer begins to fire his weapon repeatedly.

It remains unclear from the footage whether Blair was coming at the officers intentionally or tripped on the bathtub wall.

The video shows that the deputy fired his weapon 11 times, continuing to shoot even after Blair had fallen to the ground. Inconsolable screams from family members can be heard in the background.

Quanell X a local community activist, along with several of Blair’s family members and others, held a press conference in Houston on Wednesday, May 7, where they gave the video to U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson’s office, representing Texas’ Southern District.

The Blair family, prior to calling 911, had called a mental health hospital asking for assistance and was told by the facility to call 911. Speaking for the family, Quanell X said the family reluctantly did so.

“They didn’t want to call the police, because they were concerned that if the police came they would not handle the situation accordingly, and it would have a dreadful outcome,” said Quanell X, adding, “So they continued to call, and then they were told again, ‘call 911.’ The worst thing they ever did was call 911 to help their loved one who was suffering a mental health breakdown.”

Quannel X called the shooting “nothing less than a cold-blooded execution,” going on to state that, “This tape shows a cold-blooded killing of a young man who was in dire need of mental health therapy. The man needed a prescription, not a bullet. “

He said the tape was only now released to “expose” the officers seen in the video. He went on to state that the family will be pursuing a civil suit over Blair’s death.

He also said the family wants the FBI to undertake a full investigation, as well as the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Kimberly Blair Olaniyai, the mother of Blair, said she wants people to know that she has forgiven the officer that shot her son.

“We want him to live a long life, so he will always remember my son and how he murdered him in that bathroom that day. My son did not deserve 11 shots to his head, and we have to find out from the media how many times he was shot in that bathroom. Even though we heard the shots ring out, we didn’t know. All that we’re asking is that someone recognizes what we recognize. That was brutality at its finest in that bathroom that day,” said Olaniyi

FBCSO spokesman Bob Haenel said the Sheriff’s Office couldn’t comment on the Internal Affairs investigation, or the shooting video, as the FBCSO hadn’t received a copy.

At the time of the shooting the FBCSO was in the process of creating a crisis intervention team and training its deputies on how to deal with mental health problems. Haenel said the 10-member team is now operational.

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