NYRA Freedom

ISSN 1933-5229

Volume 3, Issue 5

June 7, 2003


NYRA Campaigns to Lower Takoma Park Voting Age
NYRA-Mizzou Helps Defeat Curfew!
Youth Rebel in Costa Rica, Overthrow Gulag School
Ban on Minor Contributions Struck Down
One Month Till Election
Chapter News
News From the Web


This months issue of NYRA Freedom is one of the longest yet, this means there are many great things to write about, the movement is growing. As we gain momentum our cause only becomes more important, and I urge all members to donate a few dollars, keep the ball rolling, and gain full membership. Also, a hearty congratulations to all this year’s graduates. Happy Liberation Day to DeWarren Langley NYRA’s Chapter Formation Director, Johnathan McClure of NYRA-North Dakota, and Laura Finstad of NYRA-DC, who have all graduated high school recently. Feel free, the chains of compulsory education have been removed. NYRA Allies who are graduating college this year include Ben Smilowitz, founder of the International Student Activism Alliance, and David Smith founder of Mobilizing America’s Youth. Ben graduated from Washington University in St. Louis, and David graduated from UC-Berkley in California. Congratulations to all other NYRA members who graduated this year.

NYRA Campaigns to Lower Takoma Park Voting Age

Perhaps the most central and essential part of democracy. When our country was born, this right was only granted to a select few; white, landowning males, over the age of twenty-one. Over time, people crusaded to unfold the blanket of liberty over a larger portion of the population and more and more people could vote. By the nineteen twenties women and African Americans theoretically had the right to vote.

During the Vietnam era, it became apparent to many that the voting age of twenty-one was unfair. As Carolyn Darrow of the Youth Vote Coalition put it, “The argument was of course that young men could be drafted and sent to Vietnam, but had no voice in electing the policymakers that were sending them there to be at risk. And actually often to die for their country.” These early Youth Rights activists were successful in lowering the voting age to eighteen, but this was not enough.

In the mid nineteen nineties, a small but passionate group of Youth Rights activists came to the conclusion that age was not appropriate criterion for granting rights to individuals, this meant amongst other things, that the voting age must be lowered. Since that time campaigns to lower the voting age have sprung up in England, Israel, and all over the United States. The National Youth Rights Association has assisted in many of these campaigns, but now it is time for us to lead our own. As Alex Koroknay-Palicz said “Now we’re starting a campaign just for us, and we’re going to do it. We’re going to succeed. We’re going to lower the voting age in Takoma Park, and it’s going to send off shock waves across the country, around the world.” Takoma Park, Maryland has been chosen as the spot to launch the campaign.

On May 17th, people gathered, despite the poor weather, to rally for Youth Rights. Great speeches were presented by several great Youth Rights activists, and we attracted the media. This alone is a victory, as Alexis Grant (NYRA-DC Vice President) put it “The more they hear about, the more they’ll get inspired to do something about it.”

This Voting Age campaign focuses on lowering the voting age in Takoma Park Maryland, a city near DC.

Speakers included Alex Koroknay-Palicz (President and Executive Director NYRA), Laura Finstad (President NYRA-DC), Alexis Grant (Vice-president NYRA-DC), Wendy Lesko (of the Youth Activism Project), Carolyn Darrow (of the Youth Vote Coalition), and Scott Beale (of Youth Venture).

All the speeches were wonderful and the rally was a success. The next step is to meet with member of the city council to discuss the issue. Read all the speeches and sign up for the campaign e-mail list here: http://www.geocities.com/youthrightsdc/takomapark.html

NYRA-Mizzou Helps Defeat Curfew!

After strong opposition from NYRA and other community leaders the proposed curfew law in Columbia, Missouri was removed from consideration by its sponsor.

Curfews, laws that obviously violate the civil liberties of Young people, laws that we would all like to see be overturned ASAP. In the recent past, politicians have used America’s Youth as a scapegoat; over hyping statistics regarding Youth crime and creating unjust curfew laws in response to this imaginary epidemic. As it becomes more apparent that this is all a myth, politicians insistent on oppressing us look for another reason: our own good. Almeta Crayton of the Columbia city council said “I don’t want to wait until some kid gets hurt.” Had it passed, the law in Columbia Missouri would affect Young people’s right to be in any public place or privately owned place of business between the hours of 11pm and 5:30am.

One of the people to testify against this bill was NYRA’s own John Wells who pointed out, “It’s a widespread misconception that juvenile crime outweighs adult crime,” Others pointed out that the law specifically targeted African-American Youth, because the law would be more heavily enforced in black neighborhoods. NYRA is dedicated to fighting curfews, and Brad White, John Wells, and the rest of NYRA-Mizzou deserve our thanks for fighting this one.

Youth Rebel in Costa Rica, Overthrow Gulag School

The harshest institutions of youth oppression got a violent taste of youth power this week as the school’s “students rose up in revolt and overthrew their masters.” The Costa Rican school, Dundee Ranch, subjects American teens to a gauntlet of abuse and oppression to break their will and “reform” them. Students have no privacy, can’t communicate and punishments ranging from physical beatings to solitary confinement for any who break the 100-plus rules.

After complaints of abuse, Costa Rican authorities visited the school. “They told us you have the right to speak, you have the right to speak to your parents, you have the right to leave if you feel you’ve been mistreated,” said Hugh Maxwell, 17, of Rhode Island. “Kids heard that and they started running for the door. There was elation, cheering and clapping and chaos.” Dundee Ranch employees beat the students to get them to stop, but many escaped and many fought back.

Some students armed themselves with sticks to take their frustrations out against their captors. 35 students escaped Dundee Ranch, choosing to try their fate in the countryside rather than stay. One student said, “staff members started kicking, hitting and choking children to stop them from leaving, and that the punishment continued for hours after the Costa Rican officials left.” Casa Alianza International has asked the United Nations Committee Against Torture in Geneva to initiate an investigation into the school.

WWASPS, the company that owns the school, denied any wrongdoing, and encouraged parents to send their sons and daughters to some of their other facilities. These people must be stopped, I encourage all NYRA members to email WWASPS president Ken Kay (ken@wwasp.com) and tell him how you feel.

Ban on Minor Contributions Struck Down

In a unanimous 3-0 decision the US District Court of Washington, DC struck down the provision to last year’s campaign finance reform law that prohibited all political contributions by individuals under 18. In the Memorandum Opinion of Judge Henderson he wrote that “no case of which I am aware holds that a minor’s speech is less valuable to himself — or to the political marketplace — simply because of his youth.” Addressing the arguments by the law’s sponsors, Judge Henderson discounted the idea that parents would funnel money to parties through their children. Judge Henderson stated the law, “does not serve any governmental interest, much less a ‘sufficiently important’ or ‘compelling one.'”

This victory will prove young people are not a “loophole” to close, we are citizens intent on charting our own political destiny. McConnell vs. the FEC next goes to the US Supreme Court for a final ruling, NYRA intends to write an amicus brief for it. You can read the decision here: http://lsmns2o.gtwy.uscourts.gov/dcd/mcconnell-2002-ruling.html

One Month Till Election

We have one month until the NYRA Election. If you are interested in running for the Board of Directors or voting in this election it is important you pay your member dues right away. It only costs $10 a year for full membership which entitles you to full voting rights in all NYRA elections,a spiffy NYRA Membership Card, and the option to receive this fine publication, “NYRA Freedom”, mailed to your home. Plus you will be the proud owner of a warm fuzzy feeling for helping out the organization you love that is fighting for your freedom. Impress your friends with your commitment to their civil rights, join NYRA!

Visit www.youthrights.org/donate.shtml to pay your $10 dues today! Remember the ballot is sent on July 2 and voting begins July 9. All Board Candidates must have their member status confirmed and their statements submitted by June 28. This is going to be the most exciting election in NYRA history.



NYRA’s recruiting effort at an annual rock concert held at RFK stadium in DC, was an enormous success. On May 24th over 200 new members joined!

On June 14th, NYRA-DC will be spreading the word of Youth Rights via a literature table at the Takoma Park Jazz Festival. Volunteers are needed. Please contact Laura Finstad (youthrightsdc@yahoo.com) if you are interested.

From June 11th-15th NYRA members will attend and recruit at the Inaugural ACLU membership conference in DC. If you can come, you are encouraged to do so to help spread our message.

Chapter News

NYRA-North Dakota is making tremendous progress in two areas. The business plan for The Phoenix Venture (a Youth center in Minot) is complete, soon loans will be sought.

Also, the voting age campaign is coming along nicely, and they have almost enough people necessary for the organizing committee. Email Johnathanmcclure@hotmail.com and thephoenixrising@hotmail.com if you would like to help out, or need any further information on NYRA-ND’s activities.

Jack Ternan Jr. of NYRA’s board of directors addressed his county democratic party in Texas, and discussed many Youth Rights issues such as the voting age, his address was a success.

Through the work of Alexis Grant, NYRA High Point successfully obtained funding from Youth Venture. NYRA DC is also working on an application for Youth Venture funding.

NYRA and Youth venture are looking to launch more chapters in the DC area. If you are interested in starting a chapter please email Alex Koroknay-Paliczor DeWarren Langley

NYRA-NYC is in the process of creating a website at www.yrnyc.org. They would appreciate any support and ideas that can be offered.

News From the Web

http://www.columbiatribune.com/2003/Jun/20030602News003.asp – NYRA-Mizzou Helps Defeat Curfew

http://www.theolympian.com/home/news/20030604/frontpage/20408.shtml – Court strikes down St. Louis video game law

http://www.ctnow.com/news/local/hc-curfew0604.artjun04,0,7850594.story?coll=hc-headlines-local – Federal court strikes down Conn. curfew

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A8079-2003May2.html – Let My Teenager Drink

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A46650-2003May27.html – Student Seeks to Make a Difference

http://www.cantonrep.com/index.php?Category=23&ID=102804&r=0 – Universities under fire over ‘free-speech zones’

http://abcnews.go.com/sections/2020/US/2020_parentsnooping030530.html – Spying for Love

http://www.youthrights.org/articles/gulagrebellion.html – Youth Rebellion at Costa Rican Gulag School

http://tkis.com/quickposte/quickposte2/18.html – Rocking the vote

http://jobs.guardian.co.uk/officehours/story/0,9897,936111,00.html – Ageism in reverse

http://www.oaklandtribune.com/Stories/0,1413,82~1865~1384630,00.html – Teen behavior modification centers go abroad to evade law

http://www.digmo.com/news/story.php?ID=2050 – NYRA-Mizzou Speaks out Against Curfew

http://www.nydailynews.com/front/breaking_news/story/84926p-77603c.html -Free Speech for Rednecks Protected

http://www.toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2003105140081 – Students jeer, parents cheer over uniforms

http://www.cnsnews.com/ViewCulture.asp?Page=%5CCulture%5Carchive%5C200305%5CCUL20030515c.html – Report Details the Folly of ‘Zero Tolerance’

http://www2.ocregister.com/ocrweb/ocr/article.do?id=38958&section=NEWS&subsection=FOCUS_REGION_STATE&year=2003&month=5&day=13 – Oreos too dangerous for kids, suit says

http://www.sunspot.net/bal-te.md.vote09may09.story – In Baltimore, some get to vote at age 16

If you would like to get your Youth Rights news on a more regular basis, and don’t want to wait for “NYRA Freedom” each month, then check out NYRA’s acclaimed website at www.youthrights.org. News links are updated daily. Also sign up for NYRA’s regional discussion lists by e-mailing Rich Jahn.


In conclusion, this past month has been a very busy one for Youth Rights indeed. With all that is going on it is a great time to find your unique way to help out. Volunteer, donate money, start a chapter, contribute an idea. Help the Youth Rights movement and we will accomplish great things in the future.