Pro For a Day Workshop

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One of the San Diego Association of Black Journalists favorite endeavors is a boot-camp for college students.  It is a full day of real world experience with some of the best journalists in town. Things kick off  with a panel discussion where student hear from professionals about every aspect of the media. Sales people, hiring managers, public relations experts, to name a few, give up precious sleep on a Saturday morning to field questions and give the students a glimpse into what working in the field is really like.DSC09339  The day includes a mock press conference, usually based on a “ripped from the headlines” current event. The students produce their own story for a variety of platforms including social media. Our photography students document the Pro For a Day event as well as the mock news story. The social media cohort does everything from live tweeting to creating podcasts. It is fun, rewarding day for everyone involved.DA_PFAD18_004

2019 Social Media Posts

2019 Pro For a Day social media game was fierce thanks to Professor Nicole Vargas. The students produced high quality offerings on various social media platform including a podcast.

Pro For a Day Podcast of mock news conference.
Example of text on video post from Pro For a Day mock news conference.

2019 Pro For a Day Photos: Fernando Martinez

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2019 Pro For a Day Photos: Angela Martinez

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2019 Pro For a Day Photos: Nicholas James

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Nov. 09 , 2019 – Chula Vista, CA – Students and Professionals came together for the San Diego Association of Black Journalist Pro For A Day event at Southwestern Community College. Aide Valdez (left) and Josh Smith (right) prepare their camera for the upcoming press conference. Photo by Nicholas James

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Nov. 09 , 2019 – Chula Vista, CA – Students and Professionals came together for the San Diego Association of Black Journalist Pro For A Day event at Southwestern Community College. Zemn Al Jaber checks to make sure that all the microphones are fully functional during before the press conference. Photo by Nicholas James

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Nov. 09 , 2019 – Chula Vista, CA – Students and Professionals came together for the San Diego Association of Black Journalist Pro For A Day event at Southwestern Community College. Josh Smith (left) and other broadcasting students film an interview after the press conference. Photo by Nicholas James

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Nov. 09 , 2019 – Chula Vista, CA – Students and Professionals came together for the San Diego Association of Black Journalist Pro For A Day event at Southwestern Community College. Various students from SDSU and Southwestern College film and take notes of the press conference. Photo by Nicholas James

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Nov. 09 , 2019 – Chula Vista, CA – Students and Professionals came together for the San Diego Association of Black Journalist Pro For A Day event at Southwestern Community College. Scott Robinson (middle) hold his two children Sarah (left) and Billy (right) at the press conference with Misael Virgen (far right). Photo by Nicholas James

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Nov. 09 , 2019 – Chula Vista, CA – Students and Professionals came together for the San Diego Association of Black Journalist Pro For A Day event at Southwestern Community College. A student from the broadcasting team films the discussion panel. Photo by Nicholas James

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Nov. 09 , 2019 – Chula Vista, CA – Students and Professionals came together for the San Diego Association of Black Journalist Pro For A Day event at Southwestern Community College. Southwestern college student Karla De Alba and Kameron Davis take notes during the panel. Photo by Nicholas James

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Nov. 09 , 2019 – Chula Vista, CA – Students and Professionals came together for the San Diego Association of Black Journalist Pro For A Day event at Southwestern Community College. Fernando A. Martinez (right, in blue) photographs a staged altercation between Pamela Davis (top left) and Jerry McCormick (bottom left) against Angela De Joseph (right). Photo by Nicholas James

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Nov. 09 , 2019 – Chula Vista, CA – Students and Professionals came together for the San Diego Association of Black Journalist Pro For A Day event at Southwestern Community College. Kiara Miranda from Southwestern College goes over her notes from the press conference. Photo by Nicholas James

2019 Pro For a Day Photos: Christopher Lefall

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STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS GOT TOGETHER FOR PRO FOR A DAY AT SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE. VALDEZ AND STUDENT JOURNALIST. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER LEFALL

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NOV.92019-CHULA VISTA-CA STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS GOT TOGETHER FOR PRO FOR A DAY AT SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE. JANICE JOHNSON. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER LEFALL

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NOV.92019-CHULA VISTA-CA STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS GOT TOGETHER FOR PRO FOR A DAY AT SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE. MISAEL VIRGEN AT MOCK CONFRENCE. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER LEFALL

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NOV.92019-CHULA VISTA-CA STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS GOT TOGETHER FOR PRO FOR A DAY AT SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE. STUDENT JOURNALIST. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER LEFALL

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NOV.92019-CHULA VISTA-CA STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS GOT TOGETHER FOR PRO FOR A DAY AT SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE. STUDENT JOURNALIST AND MOCK PROTESTERS AT PFAD EVENT.. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER LEFALL

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NOV.92019-CHULA VISTA-CA STUDENTS AND PROFESSIONALS GOT TOGETHER FOR PRO FOR A DAY AT SOUTHWESTERN COLLEGE. STUDENT JOURNALIST AT PFAD EVENT. PHOTO BY CHRISTOPHER LEFALL

 

 

2019 Pro For a Day Videos

Susana, Aide and Samuel

Marion Ette

Isaac, Naeilah and Jazmin

Pernisha, Kamron and Christina

Angel, Christine and Lissa

Amal and Julia

 

 

ICE Banned from Stephens University after Arrests

By Ana Paola Olvera

CHULA VISTA-Two Stephens University students were detained on campus by the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on Oct. 31.

Chancellor Janice Johnson announced at the press conference on Nov. 9 that ICE would no longer be allowed at Stephens University following the arrests.

She said the school cares for each of its students and reassured that what happened is not the norm. She said that no other student would be taken on campus again.

“We’re here to embrace, we’re here to uplift and we’re here to educate the next generation,” she said.

Juan Sanchez, a 20 year old student, said he was at the university’s parking lot when an ICE agent came up to him and put him in a jail cell for six hours. Nobody told him why it happened.

Sanchez said he was appalled by the whole situation. He said he came to the United States to get away from the danger his family faced in Sinaloa, but now he’s faced by a society that threatens him and judges him because of the way that he looks.

“It feels like the moment I stepped into this country, instead of being welcoming to us, there has been a lot of hostility,” he said.

Protestors surrounded the press conference. Some protested against immigrants and others protested against ICE.

“We don’t want you here. Go home!” a protestor yelled.

Sanchez’s family also attended the press conference and his father became visibly irritated by the crass remarks. He said that his family was constantly harassed by other residents and that there is a lot of hatred and racism.

Sanchez said that his family came to the United States three years ago to seek asylum and that they are legal residents. He said he will eventually go back to Mexico to start a life with his girlfriend.

The second student who was arrested was detained in one of his classes. The professor asked for the ICE agent’s badge, but the agent refused. He was arrested for becoming physical with the agent and he spent a night in jail.

Johnson said that the American Civil Liberties Union intervened and negotiated to get the students free.

ICE Arrest

By Andrew Penalosa

Chula Vista- Juan Sanchez, a 20-year-old student at Stevens University, stood in front of a podium with his family speaking about his recent arrest by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On Oct. 31, Sanchez was one of two students arrested on campus without clarification as to why. 

Janice Johnson, chancellor at Steven’s University, announced that the university will stop cooperating with ICE and federal agents will not be allowed on campus. 

A press conference was held on Saturday, Nov. 9, to discuss the incident that took place on campus. The chancellor claimed that what happened was not the norm.

“Don’t judge the university by one incident.” she said.

When Johnson introduced Sanchez, a second-year economics major, he was greeted by discriminatory remarks from an anti-immigrant protestor.

“Go back to Mexico… Live the Mexican dream!” the protestor hollered.

Sanchez’s father was with him at the podium and retorted to the protestor.

“We are home!” he exclaimed.

Johnson intervened and asked the protestor if he needed to be called out by security. Despite the remarks, Sanchez continued through the conference without yelling back at the protestor. Some of his concerns were his safety on campus and why he wasn’t offered legal counseling while being in custody.

When asked about his arrest, he was unsure of why he was taken.

Other protestors butted in when the rude protestor spoke. They were exclaiming about their abolishment of ICE on campus and how they supported Sanchez and his family.

Once he left the podium, Steven Washington, a professor on campus, spoke about how him and his student was arrested. He described in detail about how the situation took place.

“I attempted to intervene to say ‘I want to call campus police, show my identification’ and at that point, I was arrested too.” he said.

After he finished speaking, Sanchez’s father came back up to continue fighting back against the rude protestor and how he didn’t understand what it’s like to live in Mexico.

Once the chancellor had enough of the protestor, she came to tell him to get out. He wouldn’t budge and the ICE protestors came to him to chant about no racism. The father continued to speak about unfair treatment towards immigrants despite the loud protests.

Photographers and reporters suddenly swarmed towards the protests and there were two conversations going on at once. It was becoming a mad house of words.

The university official called the meeting off before it would become uncontrollable. Those who spoke at the podium stuck around to answer questions from reporters.

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Two students were arrested on campus

By Vicky Pineda

CHULA VISTA- On Oct. 31, federal immigration agents arrested two students and a professor at Stephens University. 

Juan Sanchez, 20, was one of them. Sanchez said during a Saturday press conference that he was getting out of his car and was walking to one of his classes when he was arrested without any reason. 

“Somebody came up to me and they said they were with ICE and the next thing I knew I was in the back of their car and in a jail cell,” Sanchez said. “Nobody told me anything, and nobody told me why it happened.”  

 Sanchez said he was detained at the detention center for about six hours and got released with no information regarding his arrest. 

He got interrupted several times by anti-immigrant protestor chanting, “Go back to Mexico” and “you don’t belong here.” 

In which, he payed no attention to the protestors and continue talking to the press. 

His father, Miguel Sanchez stood by his side and defended him while the protestors were chanting racial slurs.   

Miguel said, he moved his family three years ago to get away from the violence in Mexico.

“(I) left the country because of crime to come here to be safe and avoid persecution,” Miguel said with frustration. “You send them to school to make a better life for themselves and they can’t even be safe at a school.” 

The chancellor of the university Janice Johnson confronted the protestors that were chanting racism slurs while Miguel Sanchez was still talking to the press. 

“What happened here, this is not the norm,” said Johnson. “We are here to embrace we are here to uplift and we are here to educate the next generation.” 

Johnson said they set up security measures to protect the undocumented and all of the students that feel affected by these events. 

Professor Peters Washington was the professor that got arrested and taken into custody for trying to intervene the arrest of one of his students and spent a night in jail. 

“We don’t feel safe there and here.” Said Juan Sanchez. “We were granted asylum” 

Film Professor Peter Washington was also arrested and held overnight. 

 

Stevens University not cooperating with ICE after two students being arrested on campus

By Kiara Miranda

Chula Vista- Two students of Stevens University were arrested on campus by Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

On Saturday, Nov. 9, Chancellor Janice Johnson ensure that the university will not be cooperating with ICE and that will make available a counseling center for immigrant students. 

Juan Sanchez, the 20-year-old student that was arrested in the university parking lot, was present at the conference with his family. Sanchez said that he was retained in a room 6 hours without knowing why he was there. The police did not give him any information about the situation he was on. He was released next morning without knowing the reason of his arrest. 

Juan’s father, who was with him at the podium, explained the reason why they had to move to the US. They had to escape of the violence of the Sinaloa cartel. 

Professor Peter Washington of Stevens University related that he was teaching the class and was interrupted by ICE officers, whom just entered the room and were going to take the student away. He tried to intervene the arrestment by getting between the officer. He was arrested, too. He was held overnight on suspicion of assault and released next morning. 

On the conference were present protesters that supported immigrants and others that were against them. George and Silvia Washington were a couple that were against immigrants. Lisa Turtle who identified herself as Christian was carrying a poster “We all are immigrants on stolen land”

 

ICE Officials Barred from Stevens University Following Controversial on Campus Arrests

By Matthew Brooks

Chula Vista ­— The chancellor of Stevens University announced Saturday that the private campus will stop cooperating with federal immigration officials and has barred its agents from the campus following the controversial arrest of two students

 “Our university has decided that we are not going to cooperate with (Immigrations and Customs Enforcement),” Chancellor Janice H. Johnson said. “No more ICE will be allowed to take anybody from this campus.”

Juan Sanchez, a second-year business administration student, was arrested in the university parking lot while another unidentified student was arrested in class alongside Professor Peter Washington who said he tried to intervene during the arrest on Oct. 31.

Sanchez said he was held for six hours and was not given any explanation for either his or arrest or his detention by federal immigration officials while in custody and that he was not given an opportunity to receive legal counsel.

Washington said he was “zip-tied” alongside the unidentified student when Washington tried to intervene during the arrest.

The unidentified student and the professor were transported to an ICE detention facility.

The student was later released while Washington was held overnight on suspicion of assault.

Washington said he touched and pushed an agent trying to get between the ICE agents and his student.

The ICE agents refused to provide any identification or badges during the arrest and did not notify the university ahead of the incident.

During the arrest agents did not issue Miranda Rights while also ordering students to stop filming the incident Washington said.

He also said that his repeated attempts to seek legal counsel were denied while held within the ICE detention center and that he was not given the opportunity until the next day.

Sanchez and Washington are currently receiving legal support from the American Civil Liberties Union regarding this incident.

Johnson, the Chancellor, said that what had occurred was an “aberration” during the Nov. 7 press conference held in Chula Vista.

Johnson voiced her support for the those arrested, and the university’s immigrant students.

“You are welcome here, we want you here, you are a student here, and we will respect your rights” Johnson said.

Juan Sanchez, who’s family has lived in the U.S for three years as asylum seekers after they received death threats the Sinaloa Cartel, also attended the press conference to speak about his arrest and his family’s struggles.

Sanchez said he was “appalled” by the incident and that he no longer feels safe on campus.

The press conference was met by vocal protest from community activists both supportive and critical of ICE’s campus arrests.

Sanchez’s father Miguel Sanchez, a doctorate holder from the National Autonomous University of Mexico, spoke out against hecklers anti-immigration and the arrest during the press conference. “You come here and you think you’re safe in America, the land of the free and the land of the just, and your son gets picked up in college? In the university, in the place he’s supposed to learn? He’s not even safe there, then where can he be safe”

ICE arrests two college students 

By Brittany Hernandez

On Oct. 31, two students were arrested in class at Stephens University in Chula Vista. Were given no information as to why the students were arrested. 

Professor Washington asked the ICE members for identification before they manhandled the students away. He had tried to push them away from the students before he was arrested as well. Juan Sanchez was one of the students who were arrested and for the other student is unknown. 

Today’s press conference everyone except for the other student attended along with some protesters. Chancellor Janet Johnson had talked about how great their school is and how protecting the student’s rights. 

She says, “a counselor center will be distributed for students to learn how to earn their documentation.” The school has taken extra precautions by getting more officers and cameras in the school. She also said, “Remember this is a university rich tradition and great value.” When Johnson was talking camera, flashes were the only sounds heard however that did not last very long after. 

One of the students spoke 20-year-old Juan Sanchez second year economic major was arrested at the college, put into a car and was in a detention center for six hours. Not hearing a word about his arrest until suddenly released with no information why he was there in the first place. 

Soon was interrupted by a protester named George Washington yelling at him to go back to Mexico. Then there was a constant back and forth yelling between Lisa Turtle another protestor

Gallery

David Ahumada’s photo gallery

This gallery contains 10 photos.

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Marco Figueroa’s photo gallery

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Gallery

Victoria Sanchez’ photo gallery

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Gallery

Alejandro Nuñez’ photo gallery

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Stephens High School violates athlete’s first amendment rights

By Siobhan Eagen

LEMON GROVE, CA – The Rev. George Johnson and Stephens High School star quarterback Michael “Freight Train” West took a knee at a Saturday morning press conference regarding the athlete’s pending expulsion.

Stephens High School, you are racist,” Johnson said.

Johnson and his wife Andrea Markus-Johnson are among the many community members who have come forward recently to support Michael who was expelled for taking a knee during the national anthem at the school’s homecoming game.

Michael said at the news conference that he knelt to protest racial inequity. His protest is walking in the steps of football player Colin Kaepernick’s controversial protest against police violence and institutional racism. Michael said he has seen too many innocent people of color murdered by police.

This is all about making sure that the voices of people of color are heard,” he said.

I’m all about the fact that we want to make sure that they can walk down the street and not have to worry about being shot and killed by police. That is the only reason why I decided to take a knee.”

San Diego American Civil Liberties Union director Lisa Gibbs said there is reasonable concern that Michael’s right to freedom of speech was violated.

We want to make sure that everyone can exercise their constitutional rights,” said Gibbs. “If he chooses to kneel and express his views then he should be able to.”

School officials argue that there is a “time and place” for self-expression. Stephens High School spokesperson Lauren McIntire said the bathroom is a more appropriate place for silent protest.

We had parents that objected to it,” McIntire said of Michael’s public protest. “They felt it was inappropriate for somebody to take a knee.”

Football coach Jon Queenn is one of the many people who find Michael’s expulsion and the school’s protest policy questionable. Queenn said he was told if he did not remove Michael from the team that he would be fired. He said he expects that he will be fired at the end of the year.

I stand behind my player,” he said.

Michael’s teammates also support him though they feel disrespected and disappointed, according to Queenn.

The West family has serious concerns about the consequences of the school board’s actions. Michael’s mother, Beth West, said the expulsion is a travesty.

They teach them that they can’t express themselves, that they can’t have an opinion about something,” West said. “Isn’t that what they’re supposed to be teaching here and simply because he expressed that on the field, which is where he shows his talent…you’re going to punish them for that.”

Michael’s expulsion will hurt his college opportunities and harm the family economically and emotionally, he said.

This is going to have a huge impact on my ability to help support my family,” Michael said. “It may be more difficult for colleges to take a chance on me. I may go from playing a division one school to something that’s a lot lower.”

The West family plans to take their situation to court if they have to.

The community is organizing in response to the school’s actions as well. Johnson announced that he will be leading a march of 1,000 Black Men to the front of the school this Saturday.

We as black men have to stand up against oppression,” Johnson said. “We have to stand up against violence. We have to stand up against what people are doing. How many black lives have to go?”

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High school expels quarterback for kneeling

By Alan Cazares

LEMON GROVE, CA – Stephens High School quarterback Michael “Freight Train” West was expelled by school officials today for kneeling during the national anthem at a homecoming game.

“This all about making sure people of color are respected,” said Michael, 17, during a press conference at the school. “What is happening here is ridiculous.”

Michael believes the school’s decision will hurt his chances to go to college. “This is going to have a huge impact on my ability to help and support my family.” He said “This is going to impact me economically.”

His mother, Beth West, who expressed her frustration about the school’s decision.

“What is happening here is just a travesty!” she said, adding that the school is limiting her son’s freedom of expression. “Isn’t that what they’re supposed to be teaching here?”

Stephens High School spokeswoman Laurie Mcintire said there is a place and time for everything. “We just feel that is not the place and the time—leave that outside of school.”

Mcintire explained that Michael was warned prior to his suspension to stop kneeling but he continued to do so.

“What we have to do, what we have to make sure is to follow protocols,” she said.

The spokeswoman told the quarterback that school officials want him back playing with the football team as long as he stops kneeling.

“It is very important that everyone is represented here at our school. All we are asking is that you stop kneeling and you make a different choice.”

Stephens High football coach Jon Queenn reveled to the press that it was not his choice to remove “Freight Train” from the team but was told to suspend him by the principal or he would be fired.

“If I did not suspend him I would be fired and since I did not suspend him I expect to be fired at the end of the season,” Queenn said. “I support my player. I support Freight Train and hopefully the school will change its mind in reinstating him.”

The Rev. George Johnson showed his support for Michael and asked him to kneel with him.

“We as black men have to stand up against oppression, we have to stand up against violence and we have to stand up against what people are doing,” Johnson said. He and Michael then chanted “Black Lives Matter!”

Lisa Gibes an American Civil Liberties Union director for San Diego and Imperial Counties said that they would be taking legal actions against the school. She and Michael’s family will be working together.

Column: Inconsistent

By Alejo Rosete

You cannot right a wrong with another wrong.

Michael “Freight Train” West is a student at  Stephens High School in Lemon Grove who protested against police brutality by kneeling during the singing of the National Anthem before the football game starts. Michael is a young black man, a 4.0 student and a football player.

It is a school custom to play the National Anthem before a game starts. Students were taught of this since day one in school, now a part of our customs and traditions.

Everybody is encouraged to stand up, take hats off and place hands on your breast – a sign of love and respect to the flag.

Freight Train grabs this opportunity to show his protest against police brutality against the blacks and other people of color by kneeling while the National Anthem is being played.

Freight Train is showing his protest at the wrong place and at the wrong time only to get the attention to convey this police brutality to the authorities. The school authorities dislike what Freight Train is doing, sanctioned and suspended him for 6 weeks. The disciplinary action is very harsh and unwarranted.

There are also others who do not follow these traditions while singing the National Anthem but are not being punished nor sanctioned by the school or shall I say “Ignored.”

What about those who are participating in the singing of the National Athem but not taking their hats off or not putting their hands on their breast? Are they suspended also?

The punishment is too harsh but also wrong. You cannot correct a wrong with another wrong to be consistent.

Star quarterback expelled

By Sabrina Wu

LEMON GROVE, CA – Stephens High School expelled its star quarterback today for kneeling during the National Anthem at last night’s homecoming game.

Michael “Freight Train” West, who had been warned against demonstrating, said he was protesting racial injustice.

“What’s happening here is just ridiculous,” said Michael during today’s press conference. “What I’m doing is nothing against the military, this is all about making sure that the voices of people of color are heard. I’m all about the fact that we want to make sure that they can walk down the street and not have to worry about being shot and killed by police.”

Stephens High School spokesperson Lauren McIntire attended the press conference and said school events are the wrong place and time to protest. Michael first was suspended when he kneeled during the team’s season-opener in August. After the second time the school expelled him.

Jon Queenn, Stephens High School’s football coach, expressed that he is in support of Michael. He said that he was told to suspend his star player, however did not believe Michael violated the school manual.

At the press conference, Michael was joined by the Rev. George Johnson and his wife Andrea Markus Johnson, as well as Lisa Gibbs, the American Civil Liberties Union Director for San Diego and Imperial Counties.

They came together to fight against oppression and to protect Michael’s freedom of speech. Johnson, who supports the Black Lives Matter movement, said that they have to stand up against violence and injustice.

“Stephens High School, you are racist,” said Johnson. “You are just the worst place to be. This is our future. This boy’s life matters.”

On Saturday, a march of 1,000 black men lead by Johnson will be taking place in front of Stephens High School.

“We’re gonna show them that black is strong. Black is proud and black is dynamic. And black is here.” said Johnson. “We’re gonna stop this injustice. We will stop this. This is wrong.”

Quarterback expelled

By Jordyn Bryant

Lemon Grove, CA – Stephens High School quarterback Michael “Freight Train” West was expelled today for kneeling during the National Anthem at Friday’s homecoming game.

Speaking at press conference outside the school, Michael emphasized that his actions were to oppose the police brutality faced by African-American citizens across the country.

“This is all about making sure the voices of people of color are heard,” he said.

Michael’s mother, Beth West, said she plans on taking the school to court. “They can’t do this to my son. They can’t just destroy his future.”

Michael’s family and supporters are worried that the expulsion could hinder his chances of obtaining a scholarship. West said that without scholarships she will be unable to afford Michael’s college tuition on her own.

The Rev. George Johnson and his wife were among Michael’s supporters at the press conference. “They want to teach him a lesson,” he said. “Black lives don’t matter anywhere.”

Johnson said he will hold a 1000 Man March in front of the school this Saturday. “Black is dynamic, Black is here.”

In the midst of an already contentious press conference, Stephens High School spokeswoman Laurie McIntire explained the administration’s reasoning behind the expulsion.

“It’s like this when you work anywhere, your boss has the ultimate say,” she said. “As a young person that’s something we all have to learn, there are consequences to your choices.”

Football coach Jon Queenn said that school officials have threatened to fire him for supporting Michael’s protest.

“The principal told me if I did not suspend him I would be fired. And since I did not suspend him, I expect to be fired by the end of the year,” he said.

When asked if she was aware of the threats made against Queenn, McIntire denied knowing anything about the situation.

Michael has joined the ranks of many athletes who have decided to take a stand against police brutality.

“I’ve always taught him that the right thing to do is to stand, or in this case kneel, for what you believe in,” West said.

Press Conference held as Stephens High School expels star quarterback

By Marla Raudales

Chants of “Black Lives Matter!” echoed through the halls of Stephens High School yesterday after a school official announced the expulsion of its star quarterback.

Michael “Freight Train” West was kicked out of the school for kneeling during the National Anthem at Friday night’s Homecoming game.

Michael, who had been warned against demonstrating, said he was protesting racial injustice, particularly against African-Americans.

“I was just expressing how I felt. The whole issue is bigger than me, that’s why I decided to kneel,” said Michael.

His mother, Beth West, stood beside him and, with her voice cracking, attacked the school’s decision.

“What is happening here is just a travesty!” West yelled out. “You mean to tell me that this school teaches young people like my little baby that they can’t express themselves? That they can’t have an opinion about something?”

Lauren Mcintire, the school’s spokesperson, stated they prided themselves on their racial diversity but felt there are protocols that must be followed to maintain order at the school.
“I appreciate [Michael’s] passion but there is a time and place for that,” said Mcintire. “Stephens is a great school and we welcome diversity and we welcome everybody’s freedom of speech. We just want our games to be a place where everyone can feel happy and safe, and not have political statements during our games.”

In addition to his mother, Michael was joined at the press conference by football coach Jon Queenn, George Johnson, his wife Andrea Markus-Johnson and ACLU director of San Diego and Imperial counties, Lisa Gibbs.

Johnson heatedly announced that his justice group, 1000 Black Men, will be holding a protest march this Saturday in front of the high school to support Michael and the many African-American men that feel alone in the fight for racial justice.

“We are going to show [Michael] that he has teammates on and off the field,” Johnson said.

Coach Queenn spoke about how great of an athlete Michael is and said he supported him, despite the threat on his job if he did not agree with the school.

“At the end of the day, can any one of us say it was wrong to stand up against inequality, oppression, those sort of things?” Queenn said. “I ask the school, what rule did he violate?”

As a result of previous warnings and his six-week suspension, Michael said that the offers he had from college recruiters have been withdrawn. The fact that he has not participated in a game since the beginning of the semester has also played a role in the declining scholarships.

Michael’s mother was not happy about this, as well.

“All his hard work, everything, it could all be gone, and it’s because of this school,” West said behind muffled cries. “They’re supposed to be nurturing him, I can’t afford to take him to college.”

High school student expelled for national anthem protest

School takes action against teen who kneeled during the national anthem at a football game.  

By Jonny Rico

LEMON GROVE, CA — Stephens High School’s starting quarterback has been expelled following a protest at the homecoming game, said school officials and members of the community on Nov. 10.

Michael “Freight Train” West, 17, took a knee during the national anthem prior to the Nov. 9 homecoming game in protest of recent police shootings of unarmed black people. He had previously served a six-week suspension for kneeling during the anthem before a game.

“Michael has been warned before, he has been given notice,” said Lauren McIntire, a spokesperson for Stephens High School during a press conference. “We have to have some kind of order… there is a time and place for everything.”

Michael expressed frustration at the press conference, as he now faces the possibility of losing out on potential athletic scholarships to universities.

“What’s happening here is just ridiculous,” Michael said. “What I’m doing is nothing against the military. This is all about making sure that the voices of people of color are heard.

“(It’s) all about the fact that we want to make sure that they can walk down the street and not have to worry about being shot and killed by police.”

The school’s decision to suspend Michael raises first amendment concerns.

Beth West, mother of the student athlete, questioned whether the school is supposed to be teaching students about expressing their views, and if so, why was her son being punished for doing just that in the place where he expresses himself the best.

Michael and his family may bring legal action against the Lemon Grove School District and Stephens High School. Lisa Gibbs, director of the San Diego and Imperial County American Civil Liberties Union, said that the organization was considering legal options.

“We are looking into a similar case in Texas for any legal precedent.” Gibbs said. “Michael would be represented by the ACLU and have his legal fees completely covered.”

According to McIntire, Stephens High School spokeswoman, the school is willing to talk and negotiate with Michael, his family and members of the community for his return.

“Our school is in an important position, we have a chance to go to the Rose Bowl,” McIntire said. “We would like to have you (Michael) as part of that. But we have to make sure we have order in the school and follow the protocols.

“In the future, we want you playing. All we’re asking is that you stop kneeling.”

One school official who decided to speak against the expulsion decision was Michael’s coach, John Queen.

“I am here to say that I support Freight Train. I was told to suspend him, it was not my choice,” said Queen in the joint press conference. “I believe that as an institution of learning our students should have the opportunity to exercise their freedom of speech.”

Queen, a 10-year football coach at Stephens High School, said he faces the possibility of losing his job over the support of his player.

Further support for Michael came from the community organization 1,000 Black Men led by the Rev. George Johnson.

Johnson colorfully expressed his disagreement over the school’s decision by shouting, “You are racist, Stephens High School.” He later joined with Michael in kneeling in front of the reporters while chanting “Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter! Black Lives Matter!”

Johnson also mentioned that his organization is planning a march in protest of Michael’s expulsion. He said that the community has shown great support toward teen and expected a large turnout for the march.

Coach Queen will now need to look for other options on his roster to replace Michael while the issue is resolved with the school board. The football team, which went 12-0 last year with Michael leading the way, started the current season 0-6 while he served his suspension.

Protest Expulsion

By Ramona Lopez

LEMON GROVE, CA – Stephens High School’s star quarterback Michael “Freight Train” West has been expelled for taking a knee during the National Anthem at the homecoming football game, according to the school and the player’s family.

At a press conference held at the school Nov. 10, Michael said he wanted to show solidarity and strength with people of color who have struggled with police brutality.

He was first suspended for taking a knee the first week of the football season in late August, but was later allowed to return.

I came back six weeks later and even though they reinstated me I decided to take a knee because the issues hadn’t been resolved,” Michael said.

Michael was a 4.0 student and had no history of reprimands. The expulsion had a negative reaction among staff, teammates, and local community members.

Michael’s teammates are disappointed, hurt, and some are angry,” said football coach Jon Queenn. “They stand behind their teammate.”

Reverend George Johnson went as far as referring to it as a race issue when speaking at the press conference.

Black lives matter,” Johnson said. Stephens High School, you are racist. You are the worst place to be. This is our future.”

Spokesperson for Stephens High School Lauren McIntire responded by saying all lives mattered and the issue at hand was not race, but that Michael broke school policy on school property after given multiple chances.

It was stated that legal actions would be made against the school. Johnson also announced that he would be leading a march Saturday Nov. 17 in front of Stephens High School.

We’re going to show them that black is strong, black is proud and black is dynamic,” Johnson said.

Both Michael and his mother, Beth West, confirmed they would be in attendance.

McIntire’s solution to the situation focused less on action and more on conversation. She said she would like to be able to convince the principal of the school to sit down and talk about the situation with the athlete and his family.

I don’t have the ultimate decision, but what I can do is set up a mediation,” McIntire said. “I would like to see all parties get together.”

McIntire said the school’s current position is that Michael cannot return unless he agrees to not kneel.

High Schooler expelled for taking a kneel during national anthem

By Brin Balboa

LEMON GROVE, CA – 17-year-old Michael West came to play a homecoming football game as Stephen High School’s star quarterback on the night of November 9th, ready to win. Instead, he met expulsion.

Michael, also referred as “Freight train” by others, was expelled for taking a kneel during the national anthem. Michael said he kneeled in response to the racial injustices that plague the country.

Michael first kneeled during the national anthem in the last week of August and was suspended for six weeks. He returned to school for their homecoming game and took a kneel again.

This is nothing about going against the government or the military,” Michael said. “This is about making sure that people of color are treated and respected like anyone else.”

Michael’s mother, Beth West, is supporting her son through this emotional time.

Lauren McIntire, spokesperson for Stephens High School, said West violated the school’s policy and was given multiple opportunities to correct his actions.

Stephens is a great high school and we welcome diversity,” said McIntire. “All we’re asking is that you stop and you made a different choice in how you want to express them. The bathroom is appropriate, not the field.”

McIntire did not have the manual where it specifies how Michael violated school policy.

Beth West, mother of Michael, said the school is teaching their students not to express themselves and their opinions.

We are fighting and we are taking this to court if we have to,” West said. “They can’t just destroy my son’s future because they don’t like what he’s doing on the field. This is America. We should be able to say what you want to say. If something is wrong, you should be able to be upfront and say what’s wrong, and they’re trying to take away his right to speak publicly.”

Jon Queenn, football coach of the high school, said the administration is not allowing Michael to exercise his First Amendment right. Queenn has been with the program for 10 years.

I have not seen anywhere in the manual where it says players are prohibited from protesting,” Queenn said. “Unless there is some place in the manual where I have missed, I have never seen this. The school told me if I didn’t kick him off the team, I would be fired.”

Queenn said he expects to be fired at the end of the season or school year.

The West family received floods of support from the community, including the church they regularly attend. The Reverend George Johnson reached out to Michael and his family after reading the news.

This young man needs spiritual guidance in this situation,” Johnson said. “It’s really sad that schools are treating our young, particularly African-American men, this way. I want to let him know he is not alone. He may have teammates on the field, but he also has teammates in life.”

Johnson organized a march in response to the events. It will be held on Saturday, November 17th in front of Stephens High School.

We’re going to show them that black is strong, black is proud, black is dynamic and black is here,” Johnson said. “We’re going to stop this injustice.”

Michael is a 4.0 student who has never gotten into trouble and is well liked by his teammates, according to Queenn. His family is concerned that expulsion could prevent Michael from earning a college scholarship.

This is going to have a huge impact on my ability to help support my family,” Queenn said. “With expulsion, that may make it more difficult for colleges to take a chance on me. This means that I may go from playing division one to something that’s a lot lower, which is going to hinder my ability to go pro. It’s going to impact me economically and emotionally.”

McIntire said the school welcomes conversation to amend the situation. She said the school made offers to sit down with the family again.

We are trying to be the adult in the room,” McIntire said. “We’re asking for another opportunity to sit down because we want to unify. We are a school and it comes down to a teaching moment.”

The family and their supporters said they do not want to talk, but see action instead.

We are tired of talking,” Johnson said. “It’s time for action. Let this be a teaching moment. Don’t take away this boy’s future.”

The West family is taking legal action against the school on grounds that Michael’s first amendment rights were violated.

Lisa Gibbs, American Civil Liberties Union youth director for San Diego and Imperial counties, is counseling the family during this process.

We think it is a violation of his constitutional rights of freedom of speech and we are involved in this case to protect his right,” Gibbs said. “We plan to represent him in court and file legal suit against the school district.”

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Pro For A Day 2018 through the eyes of social media journalists

SDABJ’s Pro For a Day 2018 allowed dozens of student journalists to get hands-on experience in covering a live press conference and gather facts and images to assemble a story.

The event took place at Southwestern College in Chula Vista, California, on Saturday, Nov. 10, 2018.

Part of that story was told through the lens of social media. Those covering today’s event using social media were Karlene Sanchez, Rodizza Baytan, Matthew Leksell, Jaime Ramirez, and Brianna Juarez.

The day began with a mock press conference in which a student, Michael “Freight Train” West, was disciplined by Stephens High School officials after he took a knee during the national anthem at a high school football game. West was the star player of the team.

 

 

 

 

Objecting to the disciplinary action were his mother, his coach, his pastor, and an ACLU attorney. There explaining the school’s rationale for disciplining West was the school’s spokeswoman.

The mother had a few words to say about it.

 

 

 

The high school football coach also had something to say.

 

After the press conference, the students began producing a story about the press conference and the controversy surrounding the disciplinary action against West. Student journalists from different disciplines put together their stories.

Below, the mentors for print journalists explain what they think of social media as a news gathering tool.

 

 

Broadcast students were also broken up to produced their packages.

 

 

 

 

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BqA44PEgiNy/

Social media journalist Matthew Leksell shot video of the photojournalists who covered the press conference.

Stephens High School violates athlete’s first amendment rights

By Siobhan Eagen

LEMON GROVE, CA – The Rev. George Johnson and Stephens High School star quarterback Michael “Freight Train” West took a knee at a Saturday morning press conference regarding the athlete’s pending expulsion.

Stephens High School, you are racist,” Johnson said.

Johnson and his wife Andrea Markus-Johnson are among the many community members who have come forward recently to support Michael who was expelled for taking a knee during the national anthem at the school’s homecoming game.

Michael said at the news conference that he knelt to protest racial inequity. His protest is walking in the steps of football player Colin Kaepernick’s controversial protest against police violence and institutional racism. Michael said he has seen too many innocent people of color murdered by police.

This is all about making sure that the voices of people of color are heard,” he said.

I’m all about the fact that we want to make sure that they can walk down the street and not have to worry about being shot and killed by police. That is the only reason why I decided to take a knee.”

San Diego American Civil Liberties Union director Lisa Gibbs said there is reasonable concern that Michael’s right to freedom of speech was violated.

We want to make sure that everyone can exercise their constitutional rights,” said Gibbs. “If he chooses to kneel and express his views then he should be able to.”

School officials argue that there is a “time and place” for self-expression. Stephens High School spokesperson Lauren McIntire said the bathroom is a more appropriate place for silent protest.

We had parents that objected to it,” McIntire said of Michael’s public protest. “They felt it was inappropriate for somebody to take a knee.”

Football coach Jon Queenn is one of the many people who find Michael’s expulsion and the school’s protest policy questionable. Queenn said he was told if he did not remove Michael from the team that he would be fired. He said he expects that he will be fired at the end of the year.

I stand behind my player,” he said.

Michael’s teammates also support him though they feel disrespected and disappointed, according to Queenn.

The West family has serious concerns about the consequences of the school board’s actions. Michael’s mother, Beth West, said the expulsion is a travesty.

They teach them that they can’t express themselves, that they can’t have an opinion about something,” West said. “Isn’t that what they’re supposed to be teaching here and simply because he expressed that on the field, which is where he shows his talent…you’re going to punish them for that.”

Michael’s expulsion will hurt his college opportunities and harm the family economically and emotionally, he said.

This is going to have a huge impact on my ability to help support my family,” Michael said. “It may be more difficult for colleges to take a chance on me. I may go from playing a division one school to something that’s a lot lower.”

The West family plans to take their situation to court if they have to.

The community is organizing in response to the school’s actions as well. Johnson announced that he will be leading a march of 1,000 Black Men to the front of the school this Saturday.

We as black men have to stand up against oppression,” Johnson said. “We have to stand up against violence. We have to stand up against what people are doing. How many black lives have to go?”

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Pro for a Day 2018

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Students from several San Diego-area colleges assumed the roles of journalists Saturday, Nov. 10, at a mock news conference about a high school football “take-a-knee” controversy.

Capturing the facts and the moment

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While professional reporters, videographers and editors acted as the newsmakers, the students tried to capture the material they would need to tell their stories as pros for a day.

Figuring out how to tell the tale

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They then got to work trying to turn that raw material into narratives in text, photos and video under the guidance of the pros brought together by the NABJ San Diego chapter.

Making tough decisions

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Three of the students worked on their video of the staged news event.

CP video / Pro for a Day 2017

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Caleb Fernandez / Pro for a Day 2017

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