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Updated: 1 hour 16 min ago

Return of the back: Will Broncos revive run game with first-round pick?

2 hours 16 min ago

The Broncos needed a running back in the 2009 draft and used a first-round pick to get one, Knowshon Moreno, with the 12th overall pick. He did not, however, develop into the franchise back they were hoping for.

Which is more the norm than the exception.

Moreno was one of 14 running backs selected in the first round from 2008 to 2012. The Georgia product had just one 1,000-yard rushing season in five years in Denver before injuries led to his retirement. While not a bust, Moreno hardly provided first-round draft value. Nor did Felix Jones in Dallas (2008), Donald Brown in Indianapolis (2009), Jahvid Best in Detroit (2010), Trent Richardson in Cleveland (2012), and the list goes on. Those misses resonated, and NFL teams began shying away from taking backs early in the draft.

In both 2013 and 2014, no running backs went off the board until the second round or later.

Now, as Denver looks to replace C.J. Anderson in the backfield, attitudes have shifted. The recent success of players such as Todd Gurley (Rams) and Leonard Forunette (Jaguars), as well as a bevy of backs chosen in later rounds who have had huge impacts, such as Kareem Hunt of the Chiefs a year ago, makes it intriguing for Broncos fans in more than one way. One, Denver needs a top-flight back. Secondly, there is just such a back in this year’s draft, Penn State’s SaQuon Barkley, whom Denver might be able to get at No. 5.

 

“It’s a deep running back class,” Broncos general manager John Elway said.

Other intriguing options could fill the Broncos’ needs later in the draft, such as Derrius Guice of LSU or Ronald Jones II of USC.

But Barkley is the back everyone is talking about. A 6-foot, 233-pound wrecking ball with blazing speed and the ability to catch the ball and return kicks, he’s expected to have just as big an impact, or bigger, than other top backs of recent years. Such as:

• Gurley (2015, No. 10 overall, Los Angeles Rams): Rushed for 1,106 yards as a rookie and 1,305 yards last year to earn first-team All-Pro honors and help the Rams make the playoffs.

• Ezekiel Elliott (2016, No. 4 overall, Dallas Cowboys): Rushed for 1,631 yards and 15 touchdowns as a rookie to become a first-team All-Pro selection.

• Fournette (2017, No. 4 overall, Jacksonville Jaguars): Rushed for 1,040 yards as a rookie and helped Jacksonville reach the AFC title game.

That trio’s previous success doesn’t guarantee a similar path for Barkley, but the impact of those players has seemingly eased concern among teams looking at Barkley near the top of the draft. So much so that the Broncos might not be able to get him at No. 5 unless they move up. Recent mock drafts by NFL.com, ESPN, NBC and Bleacher Report have Barkley going in the top 4..

if that happens, where might Denver turn? The options later in the draft are plentiful.  Analysts suggest as many as six tailbacks — Derrius Guice (LSU), Sony Michel (Georgia), Nick Chubb (Georgia), Kerryon Johnson (Auburn), Ronald Jones (USC) and Rashaad Penny (San Diego State) — will be off the board by the end of the third round.

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Elway isn’t about to tip his hand at how he is planning to address the team’s need for a back. But Denver has plenty of attractive draft options.

“It’s hard to predict where they’re going to end up, but it is a deep class,” Elway said. “We feel good about the fact that we’ll be able to get a good one.”

First round backs

Fewer running backs are getting chosen in the first round. A look at the trend since 2008.

2017

Leonard Fournette (LSU): Jacksonville Jaguars (4)

Christian McCaffrey (Stanford): Carolina Panthers (8)

2016

Ezekiel Elliott (Ohio State): Dallas Cowboys (4)

2015

Todd Gurley (Georgia): Los Angeles Rams (10)

Melvin Gordon (Wisconsin): Los Angeles Chargers (15)

2013-14

None

2012

Trent Richardson (Alabama): Cleveland Browns (3)

Doug Martin (Boise State): Tampa Bay Buccaneers (31)

David Wilson (Virginia Tech): New York Giants (32)

2011

Mark Ingram (Alabama): New Orleans Saints (28)

2010

C.J. Spiller (Clemson): Buffalo Bills (9)

Ryan Matthews (Fresno State): Los Angeles Chargers (12)

Jahvid Best (California): Detriot Lions (30)

2009

Knowshon Moreno (Georgia): Denver Broncos (12)

Donald Brown (Connecticut): Indianapolis Colts (27)

Beanie Wells (Ohio State): Arizona Cardinals (31)

2008

Darren McFadden (Arkansas): Oakland Raiders (4)

Jonathan Stewart (Oregon): Carolina Panthers (13)

Felix Jones (Arkansas): Dallas Cowboys (22)

Chris Johnson (East Carolina): Tennessee Titans (24)

Categories: All Denver News.

Ask Amy: Women wonder whether to call out male friends for sexism

3 hours 45 min ago

Dear Amy: I am lucky enough to have found a group of people who share the same deep love and support for an international sports team. We meet up to watch the games, but we also enjoy each other’s company and see each other outside of match day.

We’ve established a group text that covers a range of topics. The makeup of the group is predominantly male. Occasionally, some casually misogynist language — one might call it “locker room talk” — will slip into a conversation. At first, it was gently commented on, but of course no one wants to be a killjoy, so now it just sort of … happens.

I’ve spoken with the other women in the group, and everyone’s pretty uncomfortable with how these occurrences derail the conversation of an otherwise great space. None of the men involved ever speaks to the women in the group in remotely similar fashion face-to-face.

We don’t want to be harpies; we just don’t want to be reminded that the majority of people — even one’s we’re friends with — still see our presence in a group as the exception to the rule. Do you have any advice on how to address these momentary lapses in conversation judgment without making too many waves?

— Not Just One-of-the-Guys

Dear Not Just: You have two options here. For option one I would like to paraphrase therapist-turned-Oscar-nominated-writer Emily V. Gordon: In a 2014 article written for The Toast, she stated that the word “inappropriate” is almost magic. In her experience, when she told someone that their behavior was inappropriate, the behavior would stop. This worked on the young and the old, in public and in private.

I can speak from experience here. She’s right.

The next time you see this type of behavior, go for something simple and direct. Getting a text that says “guys, that language is inappropriate” will correct this mortifying lapse in judgment, and having it in the text chain will serve as a reminder of what this group text is for.

If Gordon’s method doesn’t work, then it’s time to try option two: The Battering-Ram. You call out this sexist behavior for what it is … sexism. It’s hard, but it gets results. This is not being a “harpy,” but offering an honest reaction to friends.

Dear Amy: If you were writing love letters to someone in anticipation of one day giving the letters to him, all the while suspecting that your roommate (his ex) would find them through snooping, would you continue to write said letters?

If there were any chance that someone other than him would get their greasy mitts on these letters, would you continue?

This guy doesn’t even know that I love him!

Should I let him go? Try to move on? There are a couple of other cuties out there, but this guy is special.

What do you think?

— Caller No. 9

Dear Caller No. 9: You write like you’re living in a romantic comedy with this (typical) plot: Your crush will find one of your letters at the precisely perfect time, rush to your side and declare that it’s you — it’s always been you, of course! And it’s raining. (And he’s interrupted a wedding to run through the rain, for some undefined reason.)

If life followed movie plots, no one would actually get married because of all the objections raised at the church, every “nice girl” would be a florist or a bookshop owner and we’d all live in giant apartments. But real life doesn’t work like it does in the movies.

There’s nothing wrong with writing letters to a person that you like, but if you really do want to be with him, then you will have to tell him, not be sneaky or wait around for him to take a hint. Obsessing in the background is ever-so-slightly creepy. This is complicated by the fact that your roommate is his ex; you will have to decide if you can risk these relationships.

Equally important: if you don’t want your roommate to see the letters that you are writing to her ex-boyfriend, then don’t leave them somewhere where she can find them.

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Dear Amy: “Pregnant, But Still Able” insisted on sitting on the floor at her office, rather than accept a chair offered by a male colleague. Thank you for pointing out that it is rude to refuse a kindness.

I actually agree with you — for once!

— Faithful Reader

Dear Reader: We’re at a tough point, culturally, where polite men are being slammed for their politeness. This, too, shall pass.


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Laughter, tears as former first lady Barbara Bush remembered

April 21, 2018 - 8:57pm

HOUSTON — Barbara Bush was remembered as the “first lady of the Greatest Generation” during a funeral Saturday attended by four former U.S. presidents and hundreds of other people who filled a Houston church with laughter as much as tears, with many recalling her quick wit and devotion to family.

Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush joked that his mother called her style of raising him and his siblings “‘a benevolent dictatorship’ — but honestly, it wasn’t always benevolent.” She was widely admired for her plainspoken style during her husband George H.W. Bush’s presidency and was known as “The Enforcer” in her high-powered family.

Jeb Bush said he could feel her presence Saturday inside the nation’s largest Episcopal church and that she would likely have given him advice: “Jeb, keep it short. Don’t drag this out,” he said to chuckles. He met her expectations with a speech lasting about seven minutes.

He choked up at one point while addressing the roughly 1,500 people seated inside St. Martin’s Episcopal Church, where his parents regularly worshipped, when saying his mother — known for her self-deprecating remarks about her wrinkles and white-gray hair — was “beautiful” until the very end.

His father, a prolific writer of love letters to his wife, laughed when his son read a letter from their wedding anniversary in 1994. It began: “Will you marry me? Oops! I forgot we did that, 49 years ago.” But when his son continued reading, about how his father grew happier each year spent with his wife, his father closed his eyes and cried. Jeb Bush later hugged his father and kissed him on the cheek.

Presidential historian Jon Meacham, who wrote a 2015 biography on the former president, recalled during his eulogy Barbara Bush’s devotion to her husband of 73 years, noting he was the “only boy she ever kissed.” Theirs was the longest marriage of any presidential couple.

Meacham said Barbara Bush was also known for bringing awareness to AIDS patients and for her work promoting literacy , which her husband subtly honored Saturday by wearing socks printed with blue, red and yellow books.

“Barbara Bush was the first lady of the Greatest Generation,” Meacham said, a nod to the generation that fought in World War II.

The couple’s family, including their five children, 17 grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren, played prominent roles in the service. Granddaughters offered readings, some of their voices shaky with emotion, while their eight grandsons were pallbearers.

The Bush family was seated in front of the church. Nearby, two other former presidents — Bill Clinton and Barack Obama — along with their wives and current first lady Melania Trump were seated in the same pew.

A eulogy was also given by Barbara Bush’s longtime friend, Susan Baker, wife of former Secretary of State James A. Baker III. She said Bush — the wife of the nation’s 41st president and mother of the 43rd — was “the secret sauce of this extraordinary family.”

As the funeral ended, George H.W. Bush was pushed in his wheelchair by another son, former President George W. Bush, as they followed the casket out of the church’s cavernous sanctuary, which had been adorned with sprays of yellow garden roses, yellow snap dragons and antique hydrangeas.

They stopped along the way to shake hands as mourners sang “Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,” which Barbara Bush had requested as the final song. She died on Tuesday , with her husband by her side, at their home in Houston. She was 92.

Barbara Bush was buried Saturday afternoon at her husband’s presidential library at Texas A&M University in College Station, about 100 miles (161 kilometers) northwest of Houston. The burial site is in a gated plot surrounded by trees and near a creek where the couple’s 3-year-old daughter Robin is buried. She died of leukemia in 1953.

“It was a very brief but poignant and beautiful ending to a very moving and incredible day. It would have been exactly what Barbara Bush wanted,” family spokesman Jim McGrath said.

Hundreds of people lined both sides of the street near the campus as the funeral procession passed on a gray, cloudy day. Flags were flown at half-staff.

Other guests at the invitation-only funeral included former Rep. Gabby Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly, and professional golfer Phil Mickelson, along with Karl Rove and other former White House staff members.

Melania Trump said in a statement it was an honor to give her respects to a “fearless” first lady, adding: “Today the world paid tribute to a woman of indisputable character and grace.” President Donald Trump didn’t attend to avoid security disruptions, according to the White House, but he released a statement saying his thoughts were with the family.

Former President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, also didn’t attend because he was traveling overseas and she was recovering from surgery, according to the Carter Center.

On Friday, more than 6,200 people visited the Houston church during a public viewing. Many of the women wore the former first lady’s favorite color, blue, and her trademark pearl necklaces.

George H.W. Bush was so moved by how many people lined up Friday to pay their final respects to his wife that he decided to go . From his wheelchair, he spent about 15 minutes shaking hands with people who had come.

___

Associated Press journalists John L. Mone and Mark Humphrey in College Station, Texas, and Julie Watson in San Diego, contributed to this report.

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Real Salt Lake needs late flurry to beat 10-man Rapids 3-0

April 21, 2018 - 8:41pm

SANDY, Utah — Joao Plata scored on a penalty kick in the 82nd minute, Damir Kreilach and Albert Rusnak added goals and Real Salt Lake beat the Colorado Rapids 3-0 on Saturday night.

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Colorado held Real Salt Lake scoreless for over 60 minutes while down a man until referee Joseph Dickerson charged Colorado’s Tommy Smith with a hand ball in the area after a video review. Plata converted with a low hard shot to the left to open the scoring for RSL (3-3-1).

Kreilach settled Rusnak’s pass and bent a shot around defender Axel Sjoberg to double the lead in the 89th. Rusnak capped the scoring on a free kick in the 92nd.

Rapids (2-2-2) goalkeeper Tim Howard was sent off in the 20th minute for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity with a hand ball outside the area. Howard was well beyond the 18-yard box when he challenged RSL’s Jefferson Savarino on a breakaway and blocked Savarino’s shot with his left arm extended.

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Man killed while holding his 5-year-old daughter in random knife attack at California steakhouse

April 21, 2018 - 7:52pm

LOS ANGELES — A homeless man who randomly stabbed a patron in a crowded Southern California restaurant to death as he was holding his daughter was reported just a few hours earlier for disruptive behavior, but police ultimately determined he was not a threat, authorities said Saturday.

Ventura County District Attorney's Office via APJamal Jackson

Jamal Jackson, 49, is facing a first-degree murder charge in the death of 35-year-old Anthony Mele. He was being held in Ventura County jail on a $1.5 million bail. It was unclear if Jackson, who is also a convicted felon, had an attorney to speak on his behalf.

Mele and his wife were eating dinner with their 5-year-old daughter Wednesday at Aloha Steakhouse in the seaside city of Ventura. The girl was sitting on her father’s lap when prosecutors say Jackson walked up and stabbed Mele in the neck.

Prosecutor Richard Simon said customers and a restaurant employee followed Jackson out of the restaurant, even though he still had the knife. They kept track of him until Ventura police arrived and arrested him.

Mele was taken to a hospital and died Thursday after being taken off life support.

“It’s horrible,” Simon said. “You don’t think you’re going to be killed when you go out to dinner at a nice restaurant with your family and you didn’t do anything.”

Simon said the two men had not interacted before the attack.

“He was just sitting there with his daughter in his lap,” Simon said. “You’re not supposed to die that way.”

Mele’s loved ones started a GoFundMe page to help raise money for a funeral and to support his wife and daughter.

Mele’s Facebook page was filled with photos of his daughter and said he was a manager at an AT&T store.

Police confirmed that a bystander reported a man — who turned out to be Jackson — for disruptive behavior several hours before the stabbing.

According to the bystander, a man was yelling on the promenade not far from the beachside restaurant about three hours before the attack.

Patrol officers were out on other calls so command center staff monitored the man via a pier security camera system for more than 20 minutes before deciding he didn’t seem to be a threat, police said.

Police are asking anyone who spoke with Jackson during that time to contact investigators in the city 70 miles (113 kilometers) northwest of Los Angeles.

Jackson also had half a dozen contacts with police in Ventura since the beginning of the year, including an arrest after a physical fight at a park, said Commander Tom Higgins.

He was also stopped on March 31 after a passer-by reported he was brandishing a knife. Police searched his bag and found a knife but there was no victim so no charge was filed, Higgins said.

Jackson has a lengthy rap sheet including charges in San Bernardino County, Higgins said, as well as convictions for burglary and unlawful sexual intercourse dating back to the 1990s.

The killing prompted the Ventura City Council to increase police patrols in the area and add staff members to monitor security cameras, among other measures.

“We are extremely disheartened and infuriated by this criminal attack,” Mayor Neal Andrews said in a statement. “We will not tolerate this in our community. Nothing is more important than the safety of our visitors, residents and businesses.”

If convicted, Jackson faces up to 55 years in prison.

___

Associated Press writer Amy Taxin in Santa Ana, California, contributed to this report.

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PHOTOS: The day in pictures April 21, 2018

April 21, 2018 - 6:52pm

Photos from around the world on April 21, 2018.

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Andrew Hammond is the unexpected gem of the Matt Duchene trade

April 21, 2018 - 6:42pm

Journeyman goalie Andrew Hammond is suddenly the guardian of Colorado’s professional hockey scene.

That throw-in from the Nov. 5 three-team trade that sent disgruntled center Matt Duchene to Ottawa is now the Avalanche’s most important defensive player — right next to 19-year-old defenseman Sam Girard — heading into Game 6 of its Western Conference first-round series against the Predators at the Pepsi Center on Sunday.

They call Hammond “The Hamburgler” — and soon enough, the Duchene trade will be dubbed grand larceny.

The Avalanche, a surprising 2-1 winner in Game 5 on Friday night at Nashville, acquired Hammond and Girard (from Nashville) in the Duchene deal — plus three high draft picks and forward prospects Vladislav Kamenev and Shane Bowers from the Predators and Senators, respectively.

Hammond was an obvious throw-in, a pricey $1.35 million minor-league player the Avs had to take to complete the deal. Nobody anticipated Hammond, a pending free agent, would ever play a game for the Avs, who had Semyon Varlamov and Jonathan Bernier, as well as Spencer Martin in the American Hockey League, and Joe Cannata and Sam Brittain with the ECHL’s Colorado Eagles.

Nobody anticipated the Avs would call on Hammond, 30, to step in for the injured Bernier — who was replacing the injured Varlamov — in Game 4 and stop all eight of the Predators’ third-period shots on goal, and then make 44 saves in Friday’s 2-1 triumph at raucous Bridgestone Arena.

“I won’t lie. There’s days where you’ve wondered whether it would happen again for you, but as cliché as it is, you stick to the process and get better,” Hammond said Saturday at Denver International Airport upon the Avs’ arrival from Nashville. “Fortunately, it all worked out (Friday) night. We’re not satisfied, though. We want to keep going and win (Sunday) night and extend the series and go back to Nashville (for Game 7).”

At the time of the Duchene deal, Hammond was playing for Ottawa’s American Hockey League affiliate, where he remained after the trade — which made it even more clear that he was a throw-in. Colorado had no place for Hammond, because the Avs were splitting their AHL interest in San Antonio with the St. Louis Blues.

Sharing meant each team could only have one goalie there, and the Avs wanted Martin to continue to develop at the AHL level.

Hammond seemed destined to play out the final year of his contract in the AHL. His 3.34 goals-against average and .900 save percentage in 18 games with the Belleview Senators didn’t suggest anyone would offer him another NHL contract.

But in the AHL, Hammond wasn’t playing for big stakes, and as he has proven in the past, Hammond is the guy you want in the crease when the games mean the most.

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He led the Vernon Vipers of the British Columbia Hockey League to the 2009 Royal Bank Cup national junior-A championship with a 2–0 shutout in the final game. And he led Ottawa to a 20-1-2 run in the spring of 2015 to help the Senators clinch a playoff spot in the final game of the regular season.

“For whatever reason, it just seems to bring out the best in me,” Hammond said Saturday of playing in high-stakes games. “I guess I enjoy the pressure of it, and you enjoy knowing you have to be a difference-maker. As a goalie, that’s something I’ve always tried to thrive on. You want to be the one to make that last save to win the game — like the guys in front of me want to be the guy to score that last goal.”

In four periods, the Predators have failed to beat Hammond with a shot off their sticks. Nick Bonino’s goal in the third period of Game 5 caromed off his skate.

“I’m happy for him. I’m proud of him,” Avs coach Jared Bednar said of Hammond after Game 5. “He’s waited a long time this year for this opportunity. He’s making the most of it.”

Game 6 three things

Power play. The Avalanche needs production in man-advantage situations. The Avs are just 2-of-20 (10 percent) on the power play in the series, including 0-of-2 in Game 5. The Predators (3-of-18, 18.8 percent) haven’t been much better with the advantage and were 0-of-3 Friday, but the winner of this series likely will come down to special teams execution on the power play and penalty kill. 

Hamburgler. Goalie Andrew Hammond has played just four periods for the Avs, including one start, but he leads the NHL in playoff save percentage (.981) and is second in goals-against average (0.77) behind Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury (0.65). If Hammond keeps this up, Colorado will extend the series to Game 7 and have a chance to join Fleury and the Golden Knights in the Western Conference semifinals.

Home-ice advantage. The atmosphere and energy plays a big role in playoff hockey and Avs fans are bound to celebrate a bonus game at the Pepsi Center for Game 6 after Friday’s comeback victory in Nashville. But the Predators already won once here. Can fans help make a difference in the third game at home in this series? . — Mike Chambers, The Denver Post

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Kiszla: Unless it’s Sam Darnold, is any quarterback in this draft good enough for John Elway?

April 21, 2018 - 5:28pm

How much does John Elway really love the quarterbacks in this NFL draft?

Although Baker Mayfield is too sexy for his shirt, is he too short to thrive as a pro quarterback? While operating from the pocket, will Sam Darnold produce more touchdowns or interceptions? Could Josh Allen be the next Elway? And would it be cruel to call Josh Rosen a Peyton Manning wannabe?

Watch a Hall of Fame quarterback work for 35 years, and you get a good feel for his tendencies. Elway and I arrived in Denver back in 1983. This doesn’t mean I know what Elway will do with the fifth pick in the first round, but it does give me a clue.

So I had to ask Elway: After meeting the Heisman Trophy winner, how short is Mayfield?

“He’s fine,” Elway replied. “When you look at the guys that have had success that are his height and even a little bit shorter – I think Russell (Wilson) is a little bit shorter than Baker. I think what he’s done, the numbers he’s put up and the success he’s had the last three years at Oklahoma, I think he’s overcome the size issue.”

Make no mistake, Elway’s voice is the dominant one in the draft war room. But, this time around, he has added Gary Kubiak, his longtime football buddy and sounding board, to the process of evaluating these ballyhooed QB prospects.

Do Elway and Kubiak value the same traits in a quarterback?

“I haven’t actually asked that question to Gary,” Elway said. Then he volunteered a nugget of truth.

A former pro QB such as Elway or Kubiak tends to be attracted to a younger version of himself. “If they’ve played quarterback before, I think their playing style is going to draw them to guys that are more their play-style type,” Elway said.

So let’s use that information to break down the four ballyhooed quarterbacks in this year’s draft.

Allen: He’s a quarterback Elway used to fall for every time. Big arm. Big potential. But Brock Osweiler and Paxton Lynch broke Elway’s heart.

So all this big talk about Allen being the next Brett Favre? In Wyoming, they have a phrase for such silliness: All hat and no cattle. If Allen couldn’t dominate the Mountain West, it’s hard to fathom him dominating the AFC West.

Darnold: He checks so many boxes. Darnold can create magic when the play breaks down, which Elway loves. In person, Darnold is unflappable and serious-minded, traits Kubiak highly values. At age 20, Darnold also meshes perfectly with the plan to let Case Keenum be the starter for a season or two.

But here’s the rub. There’s almost zero chance Darnold will fall to the Broncos at the fifth overall pick. It goes against Elway’s nature to overpay for talent, much less pay the king’s ransom it could cost Denver to make to move up and draft Darnold.

Rosen: He can really spin the football, as the scouts like to say. But there are red flags. While at UCLA, Rosen was less than durable, and the Broncos just dealt with watching the NFL batter Trevor Siemian. Also: Does Rosen’s competitiveness burn white hot, the way it did in Elway?

If the Broncos pull the trigger on Rosen, Elway will have faked me out of my jock.

Mayfield: What a party it would be. Mayfield is the red solo cup of QB prospects. The feisty former walk-on doesn’t just savor a challenge. He chugs it.

Mayfield brings the football acumen to a meeting room that Kubiak can appreciate, plus a swagger that made Elway famous. Scouts tend to love Mayfield or hate him. But, oddly enough, he might actually be the best compromise candidate for the Broncos, offering both Kubiak and Elway a little of what they want in a quarterback.

The Denver draft room is not a democracy. The decision on which direction the Broncos go in the first round begins and ends with Elway.

“That’s my job, right?” Elway said.

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Based on 35 years of watching Elway at work, here are three educated guesses on how he’s thinking about this draft:

No. 1: Darnold is the most ideal fit among the quarterbacks for Elway’s personality, but Elway’s competitive streak won’t allow him to get beat in a trade to move up the board. Is there a Plan B for drafting a QB? We all know Elway abhors settling for second best.

No. 2: The best three football players in this draft are Penn State running back Saquon Barkley, Notre Dame guard Quenton Nelson and North Carolina State edge rusher Bradley Chubb. If any of them are available when the Broncos are on the clock with the fifth overall pick, I don’t see Elway taking a quarterback. Let me add: Nelson could transform the offensive line from a glaring weakness to a team strength.

No. 3: The gambler in Elway will itch to entice a quarterback-desperate team to overpay for the fifth pick. It would give him a big toothy grin. Why? Elway could win a trade and move back in in the draft to acquire two impactful rookies for the price of one.

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Top 3 breakout players from Colorado State football spring practice

April 21, 2018 - 5:16pm

FORT COLLINS — The Colorado State football team wrapped up its spring season Saturday. Here are three Rams whose breakout performances should inspire confidence for the upcoming fall:

WR Preston Williams, Jr., 6-feet-4, 210 pounds

Williams, a Tennessee transfer who sat out last season, did not play in Saturday’s spring game as part of his ongoing suspension for violating team rules last fall. But there’s little doubt Williams has the potential to replace Michael Gallup as the Rams’ top receiving threat. Williams is a former five-star recruit who turned heads throughout spring with his speed and athleticism.

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CB Darius Campbell, So., 5-10, 165

The graduation of cornerback Kevin Nutt opens up a starting role in the Rams secondary that appears destined for Campbell. He was one of just five CSU true freshmen to appear in all 13 games last season and he was a standout throughout spring practices. Campbell, a Marrero, La., native, recorded four tackles, two pass breakups and a sack Saturday.

OL Barry Wesley, R-Fr., 6-6, 310

CSU graduated three starters from its offensive line a year ago in Jake Bennett, Zack Golditch and Trae Moxley. A surprising source of competition for their replacements this spring arrived from Wesley, a walk-on from Morrison, whose stock has increased under new run-game coordinator Dave Johnson. Wesley’s combination of size and quickness has impressed.

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Fresno State professor bragged she can’t be fired for calling Barbara Bush an “amazing racist” and is happy “the witch is dead”

April 21, 2018 - 4:44pm

Can a professor with tenure be fired?

That’s the question being debated after a professor enraged thousands of people with social media comments written hours after the death of Barbara Bush, wife of former President George H.W. Bush and mother of former President George W. Bush. Randa Jarrar, a professor at California State University at Fresno (Fresno State), took to Twitter earlier this week to attack the former first lady’s legacy and call her names – and the professor seemed to taunt her critics, telling them to take their complaints straight to the university president.

Many did, furious about Jarrar’s comments such as “I’m happy the witch is dead.” On social media, in opinion pieces and with direct appeals, people called on the public university’s leaders to fire Jarrar.

Those demands sparked a debate over free speech and academic freedom, and whether there are lines that even tenured professors cannot cross.

“I will never be fired,” Jarrar wrote on Twitter.

But experts on tenure said the protections it provides are not unlimited.

“It’s a common misconception that academic freedom is absolute,” said Gregory Scholtz, director of the Department of Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Governance of the American Association of University Professors, a group that strongly defends professors’ right to speak as citizens without being sanctioned. But a university can seek a dismissal if a professor’s speech – even outside of the classroom or university setting – raises “grave doubts” about fitness for the position, he said.

“A faculty member can be accused of unethical conduct or can be accused of incompetence,” Scholtz said. The association advises that professors should be judged by a panel of their faculty peers, not fired unilaterally by an administrator or a governing board.

Jarrar did not respond to requests for comment Friday. But Fresno State’s president, Joseph Castro, said in a news conference Wednesday that – although he couldn’t discuss specifics of Jarrar’s case because it is a personnel matter – officials would review the facts, as well as the collective bargaining agreement, according to the Fresno Bee. “A professor with tenure does not have blanket protection to say and do what they wish,” Castro said. “We are all held accountable for our actions.”

On Thursday evening, Castro issued a statement saying academic freedom “is at the core of our university.” He said he was a fervent supporter of that freedom. “I recognize that in the exercise of free speech rights, individuals may present personal opinions in a provocative manner, and I also value the First Amendment rights of individuals, even when others may find the speech unpleasant and inappropriate.

“I also recognize that people will have different opinions on the proper balance between freedom of expression and the responsibility to exercise it in a way that promotes constructive dialog. We are constantly striving to get that balance right.”

Last year, a Fresno State lecturer, Lars Maischak, was put on leave after tweeting “Trump must hang.”

Shortly after Bush’s death was announced this week, Jarrar issued a flurry of tweets blasting the former first lady’s legacy. “Barbara Bush was a generous and smart and amazing racist who, along with her husband, raised a war criminal,” Jarrar wrote, according to the Fresno Bee.

“I’m happy the witch is dead,” Jarrar, a creative writing professor, wrote in another tweet. “Can’t wait for the rest of her family to fall to their demise the way 1.5 million iraqis have. byyyeeeeeee.”

Her words did not go unnoticed. More than 2,000 people had replied to Jarrar before she made her Twitter account private, the Bee reported.

She called her critics “racists going crazy in my mentions” and said she was being attacked because she was “An Arab American Muslim American woman with some clout.”

And above all, she told them she was a tenured professor who makes six figures and has rock-solid job security.

Jarrar even told people how to contact university officials if they wanted to lodge a complaint:

“LOL let me help you. You should tag my president @JosephlCastro. What I love about being an American professor is my right to free speech, and what I love about Fresno State is that I always feel protected and at home here,” Jarrar wrote. “GO BULLDOGS!”

But on Wednesday, Castro told the Bee that Jarrar’s comments were “beyond free speech. This was disrespectful.”

The school newspaper, the Collegian, wrote in an editorial, “In this age of extreme ideological divide, we question why Jarrar felt the need to share her candid thoughts in the one place where anything productive rarely happens,” and concluded, “Jarrar chose poor taste over prudence.”

The protections faculty members have – designed to ensure they can tackle controversial and provocative ideas without fear of retribution – are bedrock principles in higher education. But academic freedom and tenure are not a license to act in an unprofessional manner, said Terry Hartle, a senior vice president at the American Council on Education. Speaking in general terms, not about Fresno State specifically, he said the further a faculty member gets from disinterested academic inquiry, “the more likely questions will be raised about academic integrity and professional judgment.”

Sigal Ben-Porath, a professor of education at the University of Pennsylvania, said while Jarrar’s opinions were disrespectful and not thoughtful “about a person who just passed away and who a lot of people appreciated . . . but it was clearly protected under the First Amendment.”

Her remarks have an additional layer of protection because Jarrar is a faculty member, Ben-Porath said. Tenure is intended to promote a fundamental goal of universities – extending knowledge – said Ben-Porath, author of the recent book “Free Speech on Campus.”

“This is part of what we are expected to do as academics,” she said, “. . . not just work according to dogma, but push the boundaries of what is acceptable that people would say or think or consider. That is what academic freedom is for.”

But that is not always how it works today, she said.”There are strong efforts by organized groups online to target faculty as a way of silencing left-leaning speech.” In some cases, there have been violent threats against a professor or a campus, and she said faculty members at some campuses have lost their jobs because of online protests.

Ari Cohn, of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, saw in the story a now-familiar pattern. “This is just a continuation of the past year’s worth of targeting faculty members for outrage mobs because they said something that offended people,” Cohn said.

He said he is not surprised people were offended by comments so soon after Bush’s death. But he said it is indisputable that Jarrar, a government employee, was speaking as a private citizen about a matter of public concern by commenting on policies during the Bush administrations. “The only way Fresno State could punish that statement is if it makes a pretty strong showing that its interests are being harmed,” Cohn said.

One thing that’s clear: Social media amplifies both the reach of a controversial comment and the outrage it provokes.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education joined with the ACLU of Northern California, the National Coalition Against Censorship and other organizations in calling on the Fresno State president to end the investigation into Jarrar, saying: “Fresno State places itself at odds with the First Amendment and the very principles of higher education.”

Diane Blair, a professor in the communications department at Fresno State, who is chapter president of the California Faculty Association, said she could not confirm whether Jarrar had reached out to the union, but said, “In more general terms, we do believe that faculty have free speech rights, especially when someone is speaking as a private citizen from a personal twitter account and not speaking as a representative of the university.”

Even if a university removes a tenured professor, the firing can mean protracted – and costly – legal wrangling.

In October, Michael Stuprich, who had taught in the English department at Ithaca College, filed a $1 million lawsuit after he was dismissed, according to the Ithacan.

The suit claims that Ithaca College didn’t follow academic due process regarding a dispute about a student who had received a D in Stuprich’s class and later claimed an email Stuprich sent him about the grade was unnecessarily harsh. Stuprich said the university violated its own dismissal policies.

In 2006, engineering professor Debabrata Saha sued George Washington University for $1 million after it made Saha the first professor in the university’s history to have tenure revoked, according to the George Washington Hatchet.

Faculty review panels found Saha hadn’t attended faculty meetings, submitted student evaluation or conducted research, something they called an “egregious and persistent neglect of her professional duties,” the newspaper reported. Saha had been suspended four times in eight years, and removed from the classroom once before.

When officials notified Saha that they were reviewing the professor’s tenure again, school police officers had to escort Saha from the classroom.

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Pueblo teachers vote to strike; metro teachers walk out this week

April 21, 2018 - 4:40pm

A vote Friday by Pueblo teachers to go on strike is just the latest flare-up in a season of educator unrest in Colorado and the nation, the president of the Pueblo Education Association said Saturday.

“I think you are seeing the frustration of teachers everywhere who are saying they just can’t take it anymore,” Suzanne Ethredge said. “Teachers have long dipped into their own pockets to pay for classroom resources, but they haven’t been getting any salary increases to keep pace.”

“They are just saying enough is enough,” Ethredge said.

The vote by members of the Pueblo Education Association was 417 in favor of a strike with 24 dissenting. Ethredge said the vote was largely a reaction to the Pueblo City Schools board of education rejecting a recommended 2 percent cost-of-living pay increase for the teachers this month.

“I think that really was the straw that broke the camel’s back, ” Ethredge said  “That looks like the trigger for this whole thing.”

A third-party fact-finder recommended that teachers and para-professionals get the 2 percent bump. But district officials said the board’s decision was based solely on the district’s “dire financial situation,” including a $3.6 million deficit this year.

The board has approved a four-day school week starting next year as a way to trim costs. “Our greatest hope is that we can work with our teachers to resolve these issues and return to normal as soon as possible,”  the district said Friday.

The strike is not immediate. The Colorado Department of Labor and Employment has until the first week of May to decide if it has jurisdiction to mediate the dispute. No strike can take place until then.

Hundreds of teachers in the Denver area plan to march on the state Capitol this week to demand higher pay and to protect their retirement benefits. Some metro-area districts will close for a day because of the walkouts, saying they don’t have enough teachers to staff classrooms.  Jefferson County Public Schools will close Thursday, and the Cherry Creek School District, Poudre School District in Fort Collins and the St. Vrain Valley School District in Longmont will close Friday.

Other school districts may follow. Schools in the Denver Public Schools system will remain open Friday, but classes will be released early, Superintendent Tom Boasberg said.

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Kickin’ it with Kiz: All hail the “Hamburglar.” Avs goalie steals Preds’ mojo, makes Smashville cry in its bourbon.

April 21, 2018 - 4:18pm

It’s pretty ridiculous for you to declare the Predators as Stanley Cup pretenders. Keep churning out the clickbait, homer. I can’t wait to send the Avs home for the summer.

Brad, Smashville proud

Kiz: Well, the gloves certainly come off quickly during an NHL playoff series. Homer is one of nicer things I’ve been called in Tennessee. It seems I caused quite a stir, all because I detected telltale signs their beloved Predators are pretenders destined to disappoint Smashville in the quest for the Cup. Heck, sports-talk radio hosts in Music City have taught me new four-letter words, by calling me a “bobo.” Well you don’t have to call me darlin’, darlin’. But I do know this much: You want some real country wisdom, listen to the lyrics of a John Prine song. And the Predators are to championship contenders what Dierks Bentley is to country music. Not the real deal.

Pretenders don’t win the Presidents Trophy. True pretenders get rocked by Nashville in the first round of the NHL playoffs. All that mary jane over there in Colorado must have caused your definition of pretenders to be all messed up. Hope I clarified it for you, Kiz.

Tyler, Smashville loud

Kiz: Avs 2, Pretenders 1. In the NHL’s most intimidating arena. How did that happen? Could you please clarify it for me? As Andrew “Hamburglar” Hammond stole Game 5, I just sat back on my sofa, sipped on some tasty Belle Meade bourbon and listened to the sound of crickets in Nashville.

Let’s be real, who bought that bourbon?

David Nail, country music big shot

Kiz: You don’t like my taste in bourbon? I like it, I love it, I want some more of it. (Oh, sorry David, that was somebody else’s hit song, wasn’t it? My bad.) But I will give you the pleasure of buying me the next round, when I’m back in Nashville for Game 7.

I buy bottles. Rounds are for pretenders.

Nail, singer of “Whatever’s She Got”

Kiz: Could you perhaps be referring to the Nashville Pretenders? Let’s raise a toast to them, while a sad song plays on the jukebox. Maybe something like “Let it Rain.”

Will you continue to be employed by The Denver Post? You are one of the big reasons I read the paper, Kiz. You are incredibly honest, factual and tell it like it is.

Connee, faithful subscriber

Kiz: Humble thanks.

Kiz, do you intentionally work each day to be a complete loser, or does it just come naturally?

Robert, bewildered

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Kiz: Well, bless your heart.

And today’s parting shot is a little recognition for the power an old knucklehead columnist has to turn the tide of an NHL playoff series. (Sarcasm font not included.)

Kiz, your motivational column about Nathan MacKinnon being so lonely he could cry after the Avalanche’s loss in Game 2 has spurred the rest of the team to rally. You might be the lonely reporter in the locker room when the Avs win Game 6. Well done!

Tim, Pueblo

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Colorado State quarterback question to linger through offseason

April 21, 2018 - 3:48pm

FORT COLLINS — Colorado State wrapped up its spring game with the Rams’ best options at quarterback failing to take a single snap.

Collin Hill, rehabbing a second ACL tear, and K.J. Carta-Samuels, a Washington graduate transfer set to enroll in May, watched from the sideline and witnessed a common theme Saturday entering coach Mike Bobo’s fourth season at the helm. The Rams, at least currently, do not have a viable starting quarterback.

“We don’t execute at a very high level right now,” Bobo said. “We can’t throw and catch.”

The Gold team defeated the Green team 44-31 in the first spring game played inside CSU’s on-campus stadium with a scoring system that rewarded defensive and offensive accomplishments. In a controlled scrimmage setting with no running clock, redshirt freshman quarterback Justice McCoy initially took snaps with the first-team offense before junior J.C. Robles and walk-on redshirt freshman Judd Erickson rotated throughout.

Bobo said his quarterbacks “were too erratic” on Saturday. Robles threw the lone touchdown pass of the afternoon during a red-zone period — but he also tossed an interception. McCoy and Erickson showcased increased understanding of the playbook, and yet they regularly underthrew their intended targets.

Just how fluid is the Rams’ current quarterback situation? Bobo said he inserted Erickson, a former Mountain Vista High School standout, with the first-team offense in practice recently and he competed three touchdown passes.

“We’re not there from a (quarterback) leadership standpoint at all,” Bobo said. “That’s OK. That’s something that you’ve got to learn.”

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Help is on the way. Carta-Samuels, despite just 310 career passing yards as a career backup at Washington, figures to be the front-runner to start in the fall — but with no guarantees. A similar optimism existed in 2016 when Georgia graduate transfer quarterback Faton Bauta joined the program only to fizzle out after one start.

Hill’s plan to contribute in 2018 is even more ambitious. The presumed starter entering the year told reporters last week he hopes to be back on the field for the home opener Aug. 25, which is less than six months after his second ACL surgery.

Robles will tout the most playbook knowledge of any CSU quarterback this fall entering his fourth season with the program. He welcomes competition to become the Rams’ go-to passer.

“The better Justice and Judd played this spring, the better I played,” Robles said. “That’s why I’m looking forward to getting Collin back and looking forward to getting K.J. going to have all five of us working hard to try and get that No. 1 spot.”

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Suspected Florida school shooter appears in court

April 21, 2018 - 3:00pm

OCALA, Fla. — A gunman who opened fire at a Florida high school was denied bond during his first court appearance Saturday.

The Ocala Star-Banner reported that Sky Bouche appeared before Judge Willard Pope via video conference at the Marion County Jail, with a public defender at his side.

Pope said he denied bail due to the nature of the charges against Bouche, which include terrorism, aggravated assault with a firearm and carrying a concealed firearm. A second hearing for Bouche was set for May 22.

Friday’s shooting at Forest High School in Ocala happened on a day planned for a national classroom walkout to protest gun violence and left one person injured as terrified students barricades classroom doors with desks and chairs.

Just hours after the shooting, a detailed picture of the troubled teen’s life and a possible motive emerged in interviews with detectives and a local newspaper.

The 19-year-old Bouche allegedly told Marion County Sheriff’s investigators he considered shooting up a church but settled on a school because “it creates more attention.”

The shooting comes just over two months after a gunman killed 17 people and wounded 17 others at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida. Nikolas Cruz, 19, faces the death penalty if convicted in that Valentine’s Day shooting.

Bouche told authorities he purchased the shotgun in a private sale roughly a week after the Parkland shooting. He said there is no paperwork for the 1930 shotgun, and there was no background check because it was a private sale.

Detectives said Bouche told them he felt an adrenaline rush Friday morning and was ready for the shooting but said the excitement quickly wore off, and he was unable to carry out his plan. When he first entered the school, he said it was empty so he went to the bathroom and put on a tactical vest and gloves.

Bouche told detectives he fired into a classroom door and the shrapnel hit a student in the ankle. The alleged shooter then dropped his weapon and surrendered to one of his former teachers.

“His hands were up and he said he wanted to be arrested … ‘I am mentally ill,'” Kelly McManis-Panasuk quoted him as saying.

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She said he told her he didn’t think the gun would work. The two talked for about three minutes until the principal and school resource officer took him into custody.

Bouche apologized as he was led away in handcuffs.

“I didn’t shoot anyone,” he said to reporters. He ignored most of the other questions until asked what he’d say to the shooting victim. That’s when he said, “sorry.”

The Star-Banner interviewed Bouche shortly after his arrest. He said his earliest memories are of “violence and conflict.” The paper didn’t elaborate. Bouche said he wanted to join the Marine Corps, but couldn’t because he had been committed for a mental health evaluation when he was 14.

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Saunders: To win NL West, Rockies will have to get by D-Backs, Dodgers

April 21, 2018 - 3:00pm

In their first 25 years of existence, the Rockies have never won a National League West title, but there is belief inside their clubhouse that this could finally be the year.

Optimism springs from faith that their bullpen is one of the best in baseball. The offseason additions of closer Wade Davis and set-up man Bryan Shaw instilled fresh certainty, and the nearly perfect start from Adam Ottavino has catalyzed that confidence.

Clearly, the young starting pitching has to get off its roller coaster of inconsistency, and the offense needs significantly better production from the lower half of the order. The Rockies are optimistic that will happen. We’ll see.

Usually, the NL West crown runs through Los Angeles. The Dodgers have won five consecutive division titles and the national consensus says they will make it six. They opened the season with an 85.2 percent chance to win the division, according to FanGraphs. Yet an 8-9 start and some troubling signs from closer Kenley Jansen have some L.A. fans checking to see if the sky is falling. It’s not, of course — at least not yet. But the folks at FanGraphs have have dropped L.A.’s chances to 76.3 percent.

And while it’s incredible early, it’s starting to look like the Diamondbacks, not the Dodgers, are the team the Rockies must beat out for the division crown.

With Justin Turner on the disabled list, L.A.’s offense has been average. Jansen, almost untouchable last season, is struggling with both velocity and reduced movement on his excellent cutter.

Corey Seager, Yasiel Puig, Chris Taylor and Cody Bellinger, the heart of the Dodgers’ order, are off to slow starts. They will likely heat up, but the Dodgers have not been good out of gate.

Most troubling for Dodgers fans has been Jansen’s early-season performance. Entering the weekend, their bullpen Superman had already blown two saves, after blowing just one during the entire 2017 regular season. The average velocity on his cutter is down 2.2 mph to 91.1 mph.

As ESPN’s David Schoenfield notes, Jansen has faced 31 batters and given up three home runs, after allowing five in 2017. He has three walks; he didn’t walk a batter last year until June.

The Diamondbacks, who finished second to the Dodgers last season, are a team on the rise. It’s a talented, athletic group with some formidable starting pitching. Left-hander Patrick Corbin is beginning to look like a bona fide ace. He’s coming off a one-hit shutout over the Giants in which he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning.

Corbin has 37 strikeouts in 27 ⅓ innings this season, giving him a strikeout rate that’s more than 50 percent above his career average, according to Nick Piecoro of the Arizona Republic.

What’s more, Arizona’s 2.87 team ERA is the best in the National League, and it’s the biggest reason why they opened the season 12-4, tying their best start ever. Arizona has yet to lose a series and have series wins over the Rockies, Dodgers and the Giants, twice.

The Padres, despite some good, young talent, are at the bottom of the NL West, which is where I think they’ll remain. The Giants, despite the addition of veterans Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen, still have an anemic offense. In their first 16 games, they scored one run or fewer nine times. I don’t see a resurrection in San Francisco this year.

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Verne Troyer dead at age 49, TMZ reports

April 21, 2018 - 2:36pm

Actor Verne Troyer died Saturday at age 49, TMZ reported.

Troyer played Mini-Me in the “Austin Powers” movies. Troyer died on Saturday afternoon, his family said in a statement to TMZ.

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The cause of death was not reported. Troyer had been treated for alcohol poisoning earlier this month, according to TMZ.

Troyer was born in Sturgis, Michigan. At birth, he was born with the genetic disorder achondroplasia dwarfism, according to TMZ. He grew to be 2-feet, 8-inches tall, according to IMDB.

Read the full article at TheDenverChannel.com

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New lynching memorial offers chance to remember, heal

April 21, 2018 - 12:16pm

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Elmore Bolling defied the odds against black men and built several successful businesses during the harsh era of Jim Crow segregation in the South. He had more money than a lot of whites, which his descendants believe was all it took to get him lynched in 1947.

He was shot to death by a white neighbor, according to news accounts at the time, and the shooter was never prosecuted.

But Bolling’s name is now listed among thousands on a new memorial for victims of hate-inspired lynchings that terrorized generations of U.S. blacks. Daughter Josephine Bolling McCall is anxious to see the monument, located about 20 miles from where her father was killed in rural Lowndes County.

The National Memorial for Peace and Justice, opening Thursday, is a project of the nonprofit Equal Justice Initiative, a legal advocacy group in Montgomery. The organization says the combined museum and memorial will be the nation’s first site to document racial inequality in America from slavery through Jim Crow to the issues of today.

“In the American South, we don’t talk about slavery. We don’t have monuments and memorials that confront the legacy of lynching. We haven’t really confronted the difficulties of segregation. And because of that, I think we are still burdened by that history,” EJI executive director Bryan Stevenson said.

The site includes a memorial to the victims of 4,400 “terror lynchings” of black people in 800 U.S. counties from 1877 through 1950. All but about 300 were in the South, and prosecutions were rare in any of the cases. Stevenson said they emphasized the lynching era because he believes it’s an aspect of the nation’s racial history that’s discussed the least.

“Most people In this country can’t name a single African-American who was lynched between 1877 and 1950 even though thousands of African Americans were subjected to this violence,” Stevenson said.

The organization said a common theme ran through the slayings, which it differentiates from extrajudicial killings in places that simply lacked courts: A desire to impose fear on minorities and maintain strict white control. Some lynchings drew huge crowds and were even photographed, yet authorities routinely ruled they were committed by “persons unknown.”

McCall, 75, said her father’s killing still hangs over her family. The memorial could help heal individual families and the nation by acknowledging the painful legacy of racial murders, she said.

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“It’s important that the people to whom the injustices have been given are actually being recognized and at least some measure — some measure — of relief is sought through discussion,” said McCall.

Combined, the memorial and an accompanying museum a few miles away at the Equal Justice Initiative headquarters tell a story spanning slavery, racial segregation, violence and today’s era of swollen prison populations. With nearly 7 million people behind bars or on parole or probation nationwide – a disproportionate number of them minorities – the NAACP says blacks are incarcerated at a rate five times that of whites.

E.M. Beck, who studied lynching for 30 years and has written books on the subject, said the memorial might actually understate the scope of lynching even though it lists thousands of victims.

“I think it’s an underestimate because the number and amount of violence in early Reconstruction in the 1870s will probably never be known. There was just an incredible amount of violence taking place during that period of time,” said Beck, sociology professor emeritus at the University of Georgia.

The memorial’s design evokes the image of a racist hanging, featuring scores of dark metal columns suspended in the air from above. The rectangular structures, some of which lie flat on the ground and resemble graves, include the names of counties where lynchings occurred, plus dates and the names of the victims. The goal is for individual counties to claim the columns on the ground and erect their own memorials.

Not all lynchings were by hanging. The Equal Justice Initiative says it scoured old newspapers, archives and court documents to find the stories of victims who were gunned down, drowned, beaten and burned alive. The monument is a memorial to all of them, with room for names to be added as additional victims are identified.

The monument’s April 26 opening will be marked by a two-day summit focusing on racial and social justice, to be followed by an April 27 concert featuring top acts including Common, Usher, the Dave Matthews Band and The Roots.

McCall plans to view the memorial with her five living siblings. She says they suffered more than she did, since she was only 5 when their father was slain.

A newspaper account from the time said the 39-year-old Bolling, who owned a store and trucking company and farmed, was shot seven times on a road near his store by a white man, Clarke Luckie, who claimed Bolling had insulted his wife during a phone call.

McCall, who researched the slaying extensively for a book about her father, said it’s more likely that Luckie, a stockyard employee, resented her father, who had thousands of dollars in the bank, three tractor-trailer rigs and employed about 40 people.

“He was jealous and he filled him with bullets,” she said.

Luckie was arrested, but a grand jury issued no indictment and no one was ever prosecuted. McCall believes the white people who controlled the county at the time purposely covered for the killer, who died decades ago.

One of Alabama’s oldest black congregations, Old Ship A.M.E. Zion Church, sits across the street from the memorial. Its pastor plans to offer prayer and conversation to help visitors who are shaken by the experience of visiting the site.

Church members have mixed feelings about the memorial, she said. They want to acknowledge and honor the past, McFadden said, but some are wondering how they’ll personally react to visiting the memorial the first time.

“It’s something that needs to be talked about, that people need to explore. But it’s also something that has the potential to shake people to the core,” said Rev. Kathy Thomas McFadden.

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More than 5,000 volunteers across Colorado conquer snowy weather for Comcast Cares Day

April 21, 2018 - 12:12pm

The scene unfolding outside Denver’s Clayton Early Learning Center was the epitome of a spring day in Colorado: Dozens of bundled-up volunteers and employees dug into garden beds while crisp, white snowflakes fell around them.

The chilly gardening was part of the 17th annual Comcast Cares Day, in which more than 5,000 volunteers across the state tackled about 60 community projects in 16 cities. Nationally, the company expected more than 100,000 volunteers to turn out for more than 1,000 projects.

Projects ranged from helping a group of ninth-graders from Girls Incorporated of Metro Denver prepare for their summer internships to a park cleanup in Colorado Springs.

At Clayton Early Learning Center, it was all gloved hands on deck to beautify the grounds.

The center helps close learning gaps among kids through age 5 via a teaching approach that includes research, training, practice and advocacy.

Sheila Littlejohn, an operation specialist at the learning center, was turning over dirt beds while decked out in winter boots and a hooded jacket.

“Volunteerism is what we need to do right now,” Littlejohn said. “It’s important to come together as a community and get things done.”

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Leslie Shelton and two colleagues from the center dug their shovels into garden beds brimming with lettuce. The garden was planted, maintained and harvested by members of Designscapes Colorado and students at the center to help give families in the Park Hill neighborhood access to fresh produce.

Through chattering teeth, the women said it was their first time participating in Comcast Cares Day.

Mike Brandenburger, a construction portfolio manager with Comcast, pulled his knit cap over his ears as he entered the garden.

“It’s a really fun day out here enjoying this gorgeous spring weather,” Brandenburger joked, gesturing to the falling flakes around him. Brandenburger had laid sod and fresh wood chips and was planning to work in the neighborhood garden.

“As we celebrate our 17th annual Comcast Cares Day, we’re proud to continue to work with local community
partners to make the greatest impact possible throughout our state,” said Rich Jennings, Comcast senior vice
president of the Mountain West Region. “The collaborative support shown by our employees, their family and
friends and our community partners is a testament to how anything is possible when we rally together to make change happen. I am grateful to everyone who comes out in support of our communities today and throughout the year.”

 

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“Imploding”: Lawsuits. Fundraising troubles. Trailer-park brawls. Has the alt-right peaked?

April 21, 2018 - 12:10pm

By Terrence Mccoy, The Washington Post

Eight months after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia ended in the death of a counterprotester, the loose collection of disaffected young white men known as the alt-right is in disarray.

The problems have been mounting: lawsuits and arrests, fundraising difficulties, tepid recruitment, widespread infighting, fierce counterprotests and banishment on social media platforms. Taken together, they’ve exhausted even some of the staunchest members.

One of the movement’s biggest groups, the Traditionalist Worker Party, dissolved in March. Andrew Anglin, founder of the Daily Stormer, the largest alt-right website, has gone into hiding, chased by a harassment lawsuit. And Richard Spencer, the alt-right’s most public figure, cancelled a college speaking tour and was abandoned by his attorney last month.

“Things have become a lot harder, and we paid a price for what happened in Charlottesville. . . . The question is whether there is going to be a third act,” said Spencer, who coined the name of the movement, which rose to prominence during the 2016 presidential campaign, advocates a whites-only ethno-state, and has posted racist, anti-Semitic and misogynistic memes across the internet.

Overall, the number of neo-Nazi groups increased in the United States in 2017, from 99 to 121, according to a Southern Poverty Law Center report released this year. That number is likely to decrease this year, said Heidi Beirich, who co-wrote the report. SPLC did not group alt-right organizations together, but some of the neo-Nazi groups were an outgrowth of the movement.

“Imploding,” is how Beirich now describes the alt-right. “The self-inflicted damage, the defections, the infighting is so rampant, it’s to the point of almost being pathetic.”

Even so, there is little doubt that white supremacy remains a potent force that is likely to emerge again as a political one – if not as the alt-right, then as something else. Racial animus remains an entrenched aspect of American life.

The alt-right “is on a downward spiral, but it doesn’t mean they’re going to disappear, and that they’re not going to regroup,” said Marilyn Mayo, who studies hate groups for the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. She said one large group called Identity Evropa – which targets college-aged men, is less extreme in rhetoric and has turned away from the alt-right label – has grown recently.

“March was a phenomenal month for Identity Evropa, perhaps our best month,” group spokesman Darren Baker said.

Chris Schiano, a reporter for Unicorn Riot, a decentralized nonprofit media organization that has leaked internal correspondence among alt-right members, called the alt-right “basically done.” It could resurface if it falls out of public view and organizes under newer, younger leaders, he cautions, but they haven’t “gotten much traction yet.”

“The overall level of racism in U.S. society hasn’t improved, it’s just that the organizing space for these types of networks” has largely been depleted, said Schiano, whose group rose out of Occupy Wall Street and documents social protests. “So the latent potential won’t go away unless society becomes less racist.”

Three percent of Americans surveyed this winter as part of a Washington Post-Kaiser Family Foundation poll said they support the alt-right or white nationalist movement.

Photo by Evelyn Hockstein for The Washington Post.Richard Spencer holds a press conference, Oct. 19, 2017, at the University of Florida, in Gainesville, Florida.

The zenith of the alt-right – Charlottesville’s Unite the Right rally – also appears to have been the moment of its decline, according to hate-group experts and members of the alt-right, most of whom were predicting a surge in membership at the time.

The death of Heather Heyer, 32 – killed in Charlottesville when a young alt-right member allegedly plowed his car into her – and President Donald Trump’s reluctance to disown white nationalism focused a degree of scrutiny on the movement that it hadn’t known until then. People started being fired from their jobs. Families disowned their children. Fundraising websites dropped people associated with the alt-right, making it difficult to raise money. Reporters covered every misstep.

Chris Cantwell, a white nationalist radio host featured in a Vice video on the march viewed by millions, wept on camera in a video he posted to the internet, proclaiming himself “terrified” after Charlottesville police issued a warrant for his arrest on charges of using tear gas in the protest. The Daily Stormer was dropped by its web-hosting company.

Some members have given up on the movement entirely. “I got to go back to my normal life,” Connor Perrin, who drove all night from Austin to Charlottesville to protest what he saw as the oppression of white men in the United States, said in an interview late last year. “I’m focusing on working and being normal. . . . My mom is like, ‘Stop being alt-right. You’re going to get yourself in trouble.’ ” He later added: “We lost.”

Others said they were told they weren’t extreme enough for the movement. “I was unofficially kicked out because I had sex with a half-Japanese girl, and they didn’t like that,” said Jack, 18, of Aurora, Illinois, who spoke on the condition that his last name not be published. “With white nationalists, you’re never white enough.”

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There has long been infighting in the white supremacist movement. The National Alliance, which for decades was the country’s best organized and perhaps most powerful white supremacist group, succumbed to infighting and a rapid decline following the death of its leader, William Pierce, in 2002. The history of the Ku Klux Klan, too, is one of infighting and internal turmoil.

What separates the alt-right movement from older groups like these, however, is that its members are internet natives. They riff off contemporary culture and politics and understand the power of leavening hate with attempts at humor, which makes their messaging and memes more palatable to disillusioned suburban white kids who spend a lot of time online. Their ideas have infected the mainstream.

“We’re not going back to a time when no one had heard the word ‘alt-right,’ ” Spencer said. “We’re not going back to a time when no one had heard of an ethno-state. It’s in the discourse.”

But in the same way the internet was a boon for the alt-right, enabling rapid mobilization, fundraising and a sense of community, it also has thrown up roadblocks to the movement’s progress. After alt-right members started getting booted from Facebook and Twitter, they relocated to alternative social media platforms, such as Gab, where they weren’t likely to encounter, let alone radicalize, people they call “normies,” who use more mainstream outlets.

Participation and enthusiasm appear to have slowed since. Several street rallies have been sparsely populated by white supremacists – but overwhelmingly attended by counterprotesters – and by the time Spencer ended his college speaking tour, few supporters were coming to his speeches.

And for Stormfront, a large white-supremacist online forum whose threads were read by some alt-right members, few were donating money. “It’s that time of month again, when the big, scary bills hit,” wrote site creator Don Black, whose wife, according to site members, has stopped financially supporting the forum, and whose son, Derek, has rejected white supremacy. “Our contributions have once again totaled less than $2000, which is not enough to cover our basic server and radio bills, and this month we no longer have enough personal money to make up the difference.”

The Traditionalist Worker Party, which at its height operated in at least eight states and had about 1,200 paying members, according to its leaders, also collapsed last month. It was perhaps the most institutionally organized of all the groups comprising the alt-right. It had a clear hierarchy – paying members reporting to regional commanders, who in turn reported to the top leaders living in a trailer park in Paoli, Indiana, where everything came apart last month.

The dynamic between co-founders Matt Parrott and Matthew Heimbach has always been unconventional. Heimbach is married to Parrott’s stepdaughter from a former marriage, and the two men lived in neighboring trailers, where they promoted traditional gender roles in addition to white-supremacist beliefs.

But according to a police report obtained by the Southern Poverty Law Center, Heimbach and Parrott’s wife began sleeping together. In early March, the two told Parrott and Heimbach’s wife that the three-month affair was over, but Parrott didn’t believe it, so he concocted a plan to catch them. Heimbach and Parrott’s wife fell for it, while Parrott was outside, standing atop a box, looking in from the window. Then the box broke, and, cover presumably blown, Parrott went to confront Heimbach, who allegedly choked him. Parrott lost consciousness, then fled to Walmart, where he called police, who reported that Heimbach later violently grabbed his wife’s face.

Heimbach was charged with felony domestic battery, the Traditionalist Worker Party disintegrated, and Parrott, speaking on the phone earlier this month, sounded different from the triumphant white supremacist who in the days following the Charlottesville rally had promised that he and the alt-right were here to stay.

“I’m unplugged from politics,” Parrott said. “I’m done. I’m out. I don’t want to be in The Washington Post anymore. I don’t care to have this humiliating and terrifying ordeal be more public than it already is. . . . There is no more Trad Worker.”

Heimbach, citing the advice of his attorneys, declined to comment.

The group’s website was removed. Some members said they were out. Others said they wanted to start something new. Another group, called Nationalist Initiative, soon coalesced online, heralding a new brand.

“TWP failed,” it said in a tweet this month to its 68 followers. “What comes from the ashes?”

Categories: All Denver News.

Glenwood Springs City Council tackles homeless camp safety concerns

April 21, 2018 - 11:25am

By the time a scheduled Thursday night Glenwood Springs City Council discussion around safety concerns involving the proliferation of homeless camps along the hillsides above town rolled around, most of the people who came to talk about the issue had left.

The meeting ran late, with the regular session beginning at 6 p.m. and lasting roughly five and a half hours, covering multiple fiery issues from the need for downtown public restrooms to design plans for a South Midland Avenue rebuild.

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Then there was item 18 on the agenda. Glenwood Springs Chief of Police Terry Wilson took the podium and addressed the council regarding the homeless camp matter at around 10:45 p.m.

“We have talked with and helped organize trash removal processes from the sides of the hills, and I can tell you with absolute certainty, that has equated to us having as many or more camps now on the hillsides as we had five years ago,” said Wilson.

Read the full article at PostIndependent.com

Categories: All Denver News.