Let’s Get Perspective- Murder is Murder

Aaron Hernandez

Recent news shaped by local media in Connecticut made it appear that the death of former football player, Aaron Hernandez  was something to expend endless amounts of ink, and great fanfare. His final resting place, Bristol, CT where he spent his childhood, nor his former football career is not license to make him a hero, worthy of being a role model.  It seems way out of proportion.  As I said in a recent Facebook post:

Maybe this isn’t the mainstream view but I just don’t get all of this fanfare for Aaron Hernandez in Connecticut. Yes, he grew up here and will be buried here in a private funeral, but the number of articles treat him like some role model. He was a murderer; potentially two times, they didn’t have a lot of evidence for the second one…… Sports is given this sacred position that is so warped, in my opinion. Yes, it is sad that he committed suicide, but he made his own bed and was a violent guy.  Let’s get real!

 

April 15, 2015 – Hernandez is found guilty of first-degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd, and is sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. He is also convicted of unlawful possession of a firearm and unlawful possession of ammunition, and his sentences are two and a half years to three years, and six months to three years, respectively.

April 14, 2017 – Is found not guilty of murder in the deaths of Safiro Furtado and Daniel de Abreu outside a nightclub in July 2012. Of the eight counts Hernandez faced, he is found guilty of just one: illegal possession of a firearm.

Two murder trials, one conviction, one acquittal for lack of sufficient evidence,  law suits, drug, weapons charges,  witness intimidation and a lot of bad behavior in prison spells trouble, trouble.  This is not a man worthy of hero worship!  One redeeming quality by the family, to give his brain to science. Even if he had multiple head injuries, that in no way excuses murder.

The manner in which the media tries to whitewash celebrities who are criminals is an insult to our intelligence and a disservice to society. Talk about fake news! When will the media tell the truth about those who have earned acclaim for the wrong reasons?

We must give equal credit to a culture of sports wielding its power and influence way beyond the norm.  Salaries are enormous, athletes change their commitments like they change their socks with little consequence, while broadcasters give them adulation and free passes in most cases from intimate partner violence to murder. It’s okay because they have talent.  This is so wrong and no one holds them accountable.

Others who have received similar treatment by the media; politicians, big government, and sports culture include:

  • Caitlyn (formerly Bruce) Jenner- Olympic champion Bruce (now Caitlyn) Jenner was involved in a fatal car accident on the Malibu stretch of Pacific Coast Highway in February 2015. According to eyewitnesses, Jenner’s SUV rear ended a white car and sent it careening into oncoming traffic. It was then struck by a Hummer. The driver of the white car was killed, and seven others sustained injuries. Jenner was not hurt nor was she charged with manslaughter or a misdemeanor.
  • Former First Lady Laura Bush -Misconduct with a motor vehicle resulting in death. See blog – https://donnagore.com/2015/08/12/laura-bush-fatal-car-accident/
  • Billionaire Howard Hughes- In 1936, billionaire entrepreneur Howard Hughes hit a pedestrian with his car. The man died, but Hughes was not charged with any crimes as a result of the incident.
  • Football player- Carolina Panthers Rae Carruth was complicit in the 1999 murder of his girlfriend, Cherica Adams, 24, and the attempted murder of his unborn son with friend Van Brett Watkins (the shooter). See blog- https://donnagore.com/2016/03/09/murdering-men-and-their-motive-no-room-for-babies/;
  • Senator Ted Kennedy- In 1969, Ted Kennedy drove his car off a bridge on Chappaquiddick, an island near Martha’s Vineyard. The car went into the water, and though Kennedy swam free, his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne, drowned in the overturned vehicle. Kennedy fled the scene and waited nine hours to report the incident; He later pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of an accident. https://books.google.com/books/about/Senatorial_Privilege.html?id=mtrouya7aa4C  
  • Author William S. Burroughs  (Naked Lunch) shot and killed his wife, Joan Vollmer, in 1951. He was not charged with murder. The event stemmed from a drunken evening where the couple was playing a game of “William Tell,” as they had done in the past, in which Burroughs tried to shoot an apple from his wife’s head.
  • Actor, Movie, Broadway star Matthew Broderick was in Northern Ireland, in 1987, vacationing with his then-girlfriend, Jennifer Grey, when the tragedy occurred on a country road in Ennis-Killen, County Fermanagh. Broderick inexplicably veered into the opposite lane. He smashed head-on into the car driven by Gallagher, 30, with her 63-year-old mom (who had multiple sclerosis) as a passenger. He was later convicted of the lesser charge of careless driving and fined just $175 versus 5 years in prison, The victims’ stunned family calling the case “a travesty of justice.”

And, there are so many more, but you get the idea; special privileges for many in the public eye. My hope is that if they have a conscience, if they are tormented, then they would come out, admit to their crimes, intentional or unintentional, and do positive things to pay it forward for the rest of their lives! But, that’s frequently not the way it works.

In the meantime, as I write this,  the radio commentator is saying, “Friends and family are saying goodbye to Aaron Hernandez…” While loss of life is sorrowful for any individual and those who love them, let’s not make Aaron Hernandez any better than anyone else at the end of his life, public figure or not, after all, he was a convicted murderer.

References- http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/09/us/aaron-hernandez-fast-facts/ http://www.ranker.com/list/celebrities-who-have-killed-people/celebrity-lists

http://nypost.com/2002/09/02/brodericks-guilt-actor-to-meet-with-irish-kin-of-fatal-87-car-wreck/

people.com/archive/matthew-broderick-leaves-behind-the-grieving-irish-town-that-charges-him-with-two-lost-lives-vol-28-no-13/;

http://people.com/crime/caitlyn-jenner-not-charged-in-deadly-car-accident-district-attorney/

http://realitystudio.org/bibliographic-bunker/william-burroughs-and-the-william-tell-legend/


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The Silence Can be Deafening- No Apologies for Being an Advocate 

Don Gore

Don Gore, my father

After 36 years of surviving the most life-changing event in one’s life, you gain perspective, but you also lose friends along the way.

My father’s murder occurred in Hartford Connecticut on April 17, 1981, and it made the law books for a particular legal maneuver. It was a case whose trial was prolonged for 6 1/2 years, caught in the morass of determinate and indeterminate sentencing laws. It was a case that coincided with the infancy of victim rights. My father’s case began as a missing person and ended as a homicide.

It was a case characterized by unthinkable events such as our family learning the news via a newspaper article and taking it upon ourselves to call the police, as no notification had come our way. There were promises were made such as, “This career criminal will never get out.” In fact, a very skilled attorney/victim advocate was puzzled as to why the perpetrator ever became eligible for parole in 2013.

My father’s murder case changed the State of Connecticut policy regarding the anonymity of victims during a parole hearing although the parole board failed to even acknowledge such a milestone.

That’s when I decided not to be silent. Don Gore needed a voice and I became that person in every way imaginable.

It is not a role I consciously chose, it evolved as my intellectual curiosity and need for justice grew.

Times have changed, with an entirely new generation appearing since 1981.  The landscape in victim services has expanded to include a plethora of agencies, governmental to non-profit. In addition, in 2017, violence, public perception, tolerance of what once was unacceptable, and the ever-changing social mores, has also escalated with the immediacy of social media.

In situations such as violent crime, I believe complacency breeds indifference. If you are not part of the solution, you could be part of the problem. It’s not that you have to go the whole hog, just make a meaningful contribution in your own way.

But then, there are the constants that don’t seem to change the work against positive change and hope for the future. These elements are equal to the silence that pervades if you chose not to be a voice for change, or, at the very least, acknowledge what others are doing and give moral support. The silences can be deafening causing me to work with increased fervor.  Some examples:

  • The murderer having no cognizance of who he killed or who was related to him in addition to showing no remorse;
  • The vulnerabilities that still surface, even after 36 years;
  • The tendency of the public to stay in denial mode, shaking their collective heads unless homicide or other crimes have touched them personally;
  • The lack of connection or involvement in many homicides and missing person families;
  • The refusal to see beyond the obvious that homicide and missing persons isn’t uplifting and that there is nothing positive that can come forth by educating and creating awareness. How wrong these people are, they will never get it! When you look beyond the surface, as advocates, we have been the force for so much positive change. As a byproduct, you gain surrogate families who can be very nurturing. Out of tragedy, inspiring events occur.
  • The lack of resources and assistance for so many families, even in this enlightened era forcing us to be ever more creative to get the job done.

The Future

Although I do not look forward to the five-year mark looming in the background for another appearance at a parole hearing in 2018, I embrace the right and duty to continually try to be the voice of my father, Donald W. Gore, whose life was snuffed out so abruptly and unfairly.

I hope he will be observing with pride from his place in heaven.  Dad, you are missed by many!

DRG- 4-16-2017


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Looking Past the Word “Missing:” 2017 National Missing Persons Conference

Luke 2:7 says about Mary giving birth to Jesus, “And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling clothes, and laid Him in a manger because there was no room for them in the inn” (New King James Version).

Such is the case with many missing persons. There is no room at the inn, figuratively or literally.

People on the fringes of life didn’t ask to be there. They came into this world, supposedly with an equal chance, until the forces of life were thrust upon them. In past generations, it was doctor, lawyer, Indian Chief as the saying goes. Today, our youth aspire to the tech world, financial services, and emergency services. But what if the world has not prepared you to function properly, despite your dreams? What happens in the aftermath?

We become the casualties of circumstances, as CUE Center for Missing Persons Founder, Monica Caison so aptly observes.  In 2017, there are so many challenges in life. The pace of life, the stress, the expectations are grueling. For those who do not have the wherewithal, the resources, the education, or the support of family and friends, they are destined to get lost in the black hole of existence. What might befall them is the daily reality of what makes the CUE Center for Missing Persons tick.

There are categories of those who go missing; those whose life ends by homicide, those afflicted with mental illness, those who are homeless, those who are kicked out of the house because of their sexual orientation, those who are addicted to drugs and alcohol, those who are homeless. One example is veterans, the elderly, and those with chronic medical issues.

Some of the realities include families are often ill-equipped to help once a missing person with a “casualty of life problem” arises.  Such victims begin the path of no return and become part of the escalating missing person pool.  Government assistance is hopelessly bureaucratic with access very difficult.  People are poor, live in rural areas and they do not know what to do, nor how to access information. Often they are embarrassed to ask for assistance. Many people are prideful and decide to fend for themselves. However, when we examine these realities, many are excuses.  Families want the problem to just go away and put forth a minimum of effort. Homeless shelters warehouse people for a few hours and provide band-aid measures like a meal. Counselors expect homicide survivors to heal in six sessions because that’s all that insurance will cover. Men are literally left out in the cold, even when they choose to seek shelter, as women with children are seen as the priority. The list goes on and on.

Embracing Dignity and Courage

These were the lasting impressions as we ended the final morning session of the 2017 CUE Center for Missing Persons Annual Conference, “Embracing Dignity and Courage.”   There were multiple examples of this theme permeating the Conference.

The CUE Center proves dignity and a safe haven for families who are left to their own devices without direction or hope. We NEVER make false promises that their loved one will definitely be located.  However, they are educated and given the tools to carry on in a family centered, the non-profit organization whose skills, dedication and longevity are unmatched.

Victims become survivors and advocates in the long haul nature in the missing persons arena. Without even realizing, there is power in belonging to a club in which no one wants membership. It may take a few months or a year or more. Such families move through their grief and take on the task of guiding others emotionally, providing a lifeline to new members when they are emotionally ready.

No contribution is too small or goes unnoticed in the collective sense. The commitment runs the gamut from tracking calls, to creating vivid informational posters for all to see, to performing case management, holding fundraising events, doing promotion, public relations, conference planning, coordinating ground searches, gathering search and rescue resources and equipment, collaborating with local law enforcement, training police departments and school children alike about aspects of missing persons, recruiting State Outreach Coordinators across the country and countless other functions, matching talent with tasks.

The Victims Hour

You can hear a pin drop.  Selected family members are invited to courageously tell their story of their loved one’s disappearance in order to provide a sense of release, camaraderie and to illustrate that the club has many members and they too share the need for a lifeline and a means to just keep afloat.

Peggy Carr’s case was the first one that gave national notice to the CUE Center. Mother Penny Britton gave a moving portrayal of their story so many years ago and the legacy built since 1988  http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=Peggy+Carr

Monica Button, the mother of Nieko Lisi who went missing in Addison, New York in September 2011, gave the most heart wrenching, angry, grief-stricken, obsession driven account of her efforts for justice. Neiko, who by all accounts was a good son, but with imperfections, remains missing. http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=Nieko+Lisi

Cynthia Day’s recovered remains ended a 26-year wait for her family as a result of comparing cases. The discovery of a box of bones and a thumbprint that may yield a sense of resolution for the multi-generational family who appeared before the conferenced audience.   http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/index.php?s=cynthia+Day+

The National Candlelight Service

This is a take your breath away event combining spirituality, prayer, music, inspirational speeches, acknowledging award recipients, and families who are on the Wall of Remembrance. Hope is Everlasting!  This year, as in the past, the skies opened up adjacent to the Cape Fear River, mixed with tear drops. But the ever-resourceful staff literally picked up the ceremony and accouterments and we continued at the hotel.

How many people do you know who live in a town with a population of 106,500 (2016-17) who also have earned the respect of law enforcement and other community leaders that take the time to personally welcome us and provide an escort by the Sheriff’s Department?  Our escort included sirens blaring and cars race along the entire route to our Riverside Candlelight Vigil. It is a sight to behold! However, it demonstrates the pride and respect shown to Monica Caison, missing persons’ families and all those involved.

Presentations and Classes

Among the many impressive presentations, was the Norma Peterson’s Evidentiary Abuse Affidavit. The Document the Abuse program, addresses the needs of all intimate partner violence victims. My heart was filled with pride to note that Norma Peterson, the sister in law of Stacy Peterson, was now carrying the torch to benefit others in a much wider scope!  http://documenttheabuse.com

And yes, children are involved. They are our future to carry on the organization, and the mission of good works for missing persons, good works for all in their daily lives!

Monica CaisonQuote-

“Only in the Beat of the heart can a count be measured, similar to the step one takes in a search for the lost.” 

Donate to the Community United Effort Center for Missing Persons-  (2016 Top Rated Great Non-Profit) http://www.ncmissingpersons.org/donate/

 


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To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity.Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com

  In the Shadows of the 60’s 

Shadows of the 60's

It has been said that there has never been a time in history as tumultuous as the 1960’s.  I was in the midst of my formative years, and yes, was exposed to (in no particular order) the questioning of our status quo, a change in the ethnicity and idealism of the Kennedy Presidency, the Bay of Pigs invasion, the fear of nuclear war by “the Ruskies,” the cultural change to hippie free love, flower power, the use of mind-altering drugs, the re-introduction of bell-bottomed jeans, the race riots of the South, the Vietnam War, Kent State, an explosion of musical talent from Great Britain influencing  American culture and music, Woodstock  Music Festival and the Watergate break-in, the start of the downfall of President Nixon.

How is it possible with this former explosion of change, we dare to rant and rave about the political events of 2017?

No movie is perfect in its storytelling pitted against factual events. It can’t be, for movies are by nature entertainment vehicles. But, I believe if you stay true to the spirit of the time, capturing major events and people’s lives with integrity and send a message from which audiences can learn in the technological multimedia world of today, you may have created a timeless work for all to endlessly enjoy!

This is all to introduce the spectacular movie, “Hidden Figures,” The untold story of the brilliance of three women who just happen to be women of color, who were the real movers and shakers of our space program who NEVER got the credit! The human drama; the discrimination of the 60s and the integrity and class of these women is unmatched. The acting and story were so moving! John Glenn and many others owe their careers to them.

This narrative is not meant to give away the story as a whole, the plot or the most emotional moments of the film, of which there are many. Rather, it is meant to say that these women played very non-traditional roles in compassion to those white women who rose through the ranks through the usual channels in a man’s world featured in my previous blog, Success and Trauma-Three Women in Space.

Katherine Johnson, (1918-__) a brilliant mathematician, who ultimately with her analytical mind, enabled NASA to excel in many ways, including providing trajectory analysis for space missions  (including at  John Glenn’s request in 1962);

Mary Jackson, (1921-2005) began as a school teacher and later convinced a judge in a groundbreaking ruling to allow her to obtain pre-requisite courses in an all white school in Virginia;

Dorothy Vaughn, (1910-2008)  a math teacher who dutifully supervised “colored colleagues” in the colored computer unit for years without the title and pioneered the use of Fortran, an initial computer language as an expert programmer.

The definition of oppression – Prolonged cruel or unjust treatment or control. Prolonged oppression can lead to frustration, depression, anger and violence. There were many examples in “Hidden Figures.” The lack of recognition for women, particularly those of color, demeaning comments, lack of sufficient bathroom facilities, lack of inclusion, lack of respect,  lack of humanity, and very low wages, just to name a few.

Can we now say that we have come so far from that era? In some ways yes, however, take it from one who has experienced much discrimination, there is still much discrimination in our country, both subtle and blatant.  Perhaps we have just chosen to focus on other types of discrimination in 2017. The prime example, Katherine was called a “computer” throughout, as in Noun – person, place, THING. How more demeaning can you get? If not for amazing resiliency, patience and standing up and acting like an “uppity colored” in a few instances, Katherine, Mary and Dorothy NEVER would have made it.

Below I share two scenes, simply to contrast the typical versus a pivotal ground breaking moment in this film.

Trailer # 1-

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8EiZe6WONWY

Bathroom Scene

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yzTjsDb-2Gk

Do go to your nearest movie theater to see it!  “Hidden Figures” will horrify, amaze and delight!

Post Script – If you are curious – What’s Next for NASA?  Read this –https://www.nasa.gov/about/whats_next.html

 

References – https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-story-of-nasas-real-ldquo-hidden-figures-rdquo/

https://www.google.com/#q=Definition+of+Oppression

https://www.nasa.gov/about/whats_next.html


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To schedule Donna R. Gore for your next conference, seminar or event, please contact ImaginePublicity.Phone: 843-808-0859 or Email: contact@imaginepublicity.com