NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229
Volume 7, Issue 11
November 1, 2007
Editors: Harry Lambrianou and Victoria Minerva Rodr?guez Rold?n

Table of Contents

-NYRA Vice President Wins Battle Against Long Island Curfew
-MADD Forms Pro-21 Coalition, Goes on Offensive
-Forming Chapter Speaks Out Against Drug Testing
-Abusive Teen “Gulag Schools” Come Under Congressional Scrutiny
-Guards Who Beat Martin Lee Anderson To Death Found Not-Guilty
-News from the Web

“Whether in chains or in laurels, liberty knows nothing but victories.” –Douglas MacArthur


The end of October is a time of honor. We honor those whose fights have taken a grim turn – Martin Lee Anderson, for whom there has been no justice yet. We honor those whose fights begin to bear fruit – our own Stefan Muller, whose struggle against the Curfew continues; Choose Responsibility, who stand beside us in our campaign against the Drinking Age; and everyone who rallied against the Gulag Schools in recent days. We hope that the example we set in our struggles today may serve as an inspiration to those who come after, that none who struggle may ever feel alone in doing so, nor ever see their efforts as vain.

NYRA Vice President Wins Battle Against Long Island Curfew

NYRA’s Vice-President, Stefan Muller has been leading a campaign against a Long Island, New York village’s curfew ordinance. With the help of other concerned students and his local chapter of the New York Civil Liberties Union, he has succeeded in getting a bill passed – by unanimous decision – to repeal the curfew, which would keep anyone under 19 off the street after 7pm on the nights of October 30 and 31. This bill is the latest success in a campaign Muller has waged since December of last year, beginning with a petition that gathered over 200 signatures in a matter of days. Though this bill does not apply to this year, a committee has been convened to spend the next year considering alternative solutions. Mr. Muller sits on that committee and, though it is possible a new curfew could be passed, his efforts against that eventuality will continue.

MADD Forms Pro-21 Coalition, Goes on Offensive

In a surprising move, Mothers Against Drunk Driving formed a new coalition to support the existing 21-year-old drinking age. The new coalition held a press conference on October 9 seeking to go on the offensive against advocates for lowering the drinking age to 18 (i.e. NYRA and Choose Responsibility). The press conference earned NYRA additional media opportunities to make the case for 18.
On October 9th, our own Executive Director Alex Koroknay-Palicz was featured on CNN’s Situation Room. MADD President Glynn Birch claimed MLDA 21 “saves lives and protects young minds.” Another MADD representative appealed to emotion, saying that she “knows personally the effects of underage drinking.” Alex pointed out that “18-year-olds are mature and responsible enough to handle every aspect of adulthood … It’s absurd to have that double-standard,” and advocated a change in the way America views and handles alcohol.
Statistics quoted by the National Traffic Safety Board indicate that only 28% of young drivers killed in automobile accidents had been drinking and that of those 28%, only 23% – just a little over 6% – were actually over the .08 legal limit. As John McCardell of Choose Responsibility said, “If science is allowed to speak for itself, we must not listen selectively.” Also speaking out on the issue of the drinking age was NYRA member and American soldier Robert Bertoniere Jr., who at age 20 was charged with being a “minor in possession” of alcohol after returning from a 10 month tour of duty in Afghanistan. He said in an interview with Northwestern University that “you can go overseas, you can die overseas, but you can’t drink a beer – it’s just backwards.”
Watch Koroknay-Palicz on CNN here: http://www.youthrights.org/forums/downloads.php?do=file&id=132
Watch Bertoniere Jr. here: http://news.medill.northwestern.edu/washington/news.aspx?id=64545

Forming Chapter Speaks Out Against Drug Testing

On October 11, Zachary Feinburg of New Jersey’s Morris Knolls High School was featured in the Star Ledger newspaper as one of several students who spoke out against random drug testing. He likened the program to police speed traps, saying: “Isn’t it true also that once you pass that police car … you just speed up again?” The program involves randomly drug testing students, regardless of whether or not they are actually suspected of drug abuse. Parents asked about the policy supported it, with one parent going so far as to say “I implore you, yes, please, invade our lives.” The policy as written applies only to students.

Abusive Teen “Gulag Schools” Come Under Congressional Scrutiny

On October 10, the U.S. Government Accountability Office reported on the findings of its investigating into so called “wilderness programs.” Said Greg Kutz, managing director of forensic audits and special investigations, “If you walked in part way through my presentation, you might have assumed that I was talking about human rights violations in a third world country.” There are currently no federal laws regulating these facilities, and many states – including most of the 33 states from which these charges come – do not require any form of licensing for them.
The list of grievances found by the Office included examples of youths being forced to eat their own vomit, being beaten or thrown around, or forced to stand for hours in the sun – often while carrying or wearing weights or backpacks – by untrained or improperly trained personnel. At least ten deaths have already been brought to light so far, including those of 15-year-old Erica Harvey and of Aaron Bacon, both of whom died due to abuse or negligence by program staff, and of 14-year-old Ryan Lewis, who hung himself while under the “care” of such a facility in West Virginia. These are the barest fraction of the 1,619 incidents of abuse revealed to the Office during this hearing.
The report was delivered to a Congressional investigative hearing called by Education and Labor Committee Chairman Representative George Miller (D-CA). An additional report is expected to be presented in February that probes deeper into the hundreds of reports of abuse at these facilities. The Committee is considering a bill introduced by Rep. Miller that would provide Federal oversight and regulation for these facilities.
More info on NYRA’s blog: http://blog.youthrights.org/2007/10/11/you-know-youre-in-trouble/

Guards Who Beat Martin Lee Anderson To Death Found Not-Guilty

A jury in Florida deliberated for only 90 minutes before delivering their verdict. The seven boot camp guards who were video taped beating Martin Lee Anderson were found not guilty on the charge of manslaughter. 14-year-old Anderson died one day after being beaten with fists and knees and forced to breath ammonia by guards in a “get-tough” facility. The tragedy led to the discontinuation of such programs in the state of Florida. The bill that replaced them with the less-violent STAR program was renamed the Martin Lee Anderson Act by Florida legislature. The US Attorney’s Office continues to investigate the matter. Video and further news can be found here: http://www.nospank.net/anderson.htm

News From the Web

NYRA-Related News
Schreiber Students Challenge Halloween Curfew
Two groups set out via Web to lower drinking age to 18
Seminole spares under-21 bargoers
Should Drinking Age Be Lowered?
Groups spar over lowering the drinking age
Youth Rights Association Campaigns To Lower Drinking Age
A Night for Ghosts and Ghouls, but Not 18-Year-Olds

American News
Democrats seek support from Iowa 17-year-olds
Cape student group seeks lower voting age
Adults favor mall curfews for kids
Video: Dramatic arrest caught on camera in Fort Pierce
Fight over teens’ dress, dancing splits Argyle
Middle school birth control plan suggests crimes, group says
Paramount, MTV take ‘Bong Hits’
Experimental School Gets Rid of Classes, Teachers
Fundraising T-Shirts Banned At School
For students, some rights are checked at the door

International News
SNP wants to cut voting age to 16
Keeping an eye on the teenagers
Jacket includes GPS tracker
Microchip gives staff the lowdown on pupils
Uganda: Drop-Outs Ordered Back to School
Keep driving age 15 and improve training – Farmers
Afghans arrange marriages for toddler brides
Controversy in Germany over using children to probe illegal sales
Vietnam may have films banned for children under 16
Let pubs serve 16-year-olds


This month, for the first time, gulag schools are under federal scrutiny, and facing problems. The fact that for the first time we see true troubles with the behavior modification industry is a great accomplishment in and of itself. However, we cannot sit back and wait. It’s a long way to go and actions need to come along with the celebrations for the good news. Ageism is still strong and prevalent in America. We have to keep up the fight. Join us, join NYRA in that fight to end ageism in America.