It’s been a tough year in 2016 as we continue to receive bad news from around the world including natural disasters, mass shootings and other events. It almost seemed like we were hearing about these events every week and thought, “are we next?”
It’s been time after time again that we unfortunately found ourselves losing faith in humanity. Take the 911 attack in 2001 as an example. The attack took place in New York City, Washington D.C. and Pennsylvania by the Islamic extremist group Al-Qaeda. It was one that left many scarred for life and in disbelief to this day. Many have come out to speak out about that day from people who were present when the attack happened to family members and friends who knew someone involved in the tragic event. Whenever we hear those stories, it feels like the wounds are still fresh.
With that being said, considering the inhumane actions by others that have recently taken place, we’re not getting any closer to gaining our faith back on the world. As individuals living everyday lives, we’ve reached a point where we have no choice but to keep doing that; taking each day at a time and hope for things to get better.
Fortunately, there’s been cases of people getting together such as protests that speak up for the rest of the world but usually for voices that are not always heard. With social media now, there are more voices being heard now that are bringing awareness which we weren’t able to do in the past.
Read below-in no particular order- to find out more about disasters that have occurred and how people got together to have their voice heard and bring everything back to peace.
15. San Bernardino, Calif. Mass Shooting
On December 2, 2015 there were 14 people massacred in the San Bernardino shooting that was associated to the terror group, ISIS. The shooter Syed Rizwan Farook and his wife, Tashveen Malik, proved loyalty to the group including posting to Facebook a pledge of allegiance to ISIS leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. Although ISIS usually calls its supporters “soldiers” or “knights,” the event is still linked to the terror group. The couple started firing at a holiday party at the Inland Regional Center. According to investigators, the two started planning the massacre before they were engaged.
As a result, there was a lot of talk surrounding the topic of gun control. Many had rushed to a local gun store trying to ease their fear as a reaction to the shooting. “Now people are scared,” said the owner of the Get Loaded gun store. A Redlands resident explained what most of the community was feeling. “My personal feeling about it is each of us as individuals need to get out and get to know who we’re living next door to because that’s how a community grows,” they said.
14. Eric Garner
Eric Garner was killed in Staten Island, New York City on July 17, 2014. The 43-year-old was illegally put in a chokehold by a white police officer. Everyone got to hear his voice in a video saying “I can’t breathe” 11 times as he was continued to be held by the police officers. It turned out that the white police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, wasn’t charged.
In response, peaceful protests were held while adopting the phrase, “I can’t breathe” as a slogan. However, there were marches that were more violent than others. For instance, some protesters were arrested in west London, England, during rallies that were showing solidarity with other rallies in the U.S. However, there were supporters of cops that held their own marches in New York City, wearing shirts that said, “I can breathe, thanks to the NYPD” and “BlueLivesMatter.” It’s no surprise that Garner’s death has caused a bigger movement by the Black Lives Matter community, striving to overcome the issues surrounding injustice.
12. Charleston, S.C.
Last year in June, we lost nine lives after an attack took place by a suspected white supremacist at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, S.C. Dylann Storm Roof was charged with nine counts of murder and three counts of attempted murder. It started where Roof began firing at a group, whom he was seen praying with in the beginning. The police chief said it was about an hour before he lost control and started shooting. There were three men and six women found dead while three survived at the historic black church. According to a law enforcement source, Roof’s gun was a recent gift that was given to him by his father for his birthday.
The Rev. William D. Smart Jr. spoke about the shooting and how it identifies the presence of racism that is still occurring in the country. “This shows that there is a race war going on in America,” the Reverend said. “We still can eradicate injustice in America and racism. “The black church is our soul,” he said. “Our soul was attacked last night.” On that note, the black community including public figures spoke on social media on the recurring hateful crimes against blacks. “Sending all my morning prayers to the people of the Emanuel AME Church and the residents of Charleston. Our hearts are heavy,” Russell Simmons tweeted.
“Was already weary. Was already heavy hearted. Was already tired. Where can we be safe? Where can we be free? Where can we be black?” Solange Knowles tweeted but then deleted it.
12. Boston Marathon Shooting
On April 15, 2013, a bombing occurred during the Boston marathon that was considered a terrorist attack. The bombing took place at the end of the marathon’s finish line and killed three people while injuring 264 others. U.S. government officials stated there was no evidence beforehand about a bombing at the event. Reports later surfaced about devices used during the attack. According to the FBI, the bomber, Tamerlan Tsarnaev and his brother, Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, were not connected to Islamic groups but were motivated by extremist Islamic beliefs.
Immediately after, the American Red Cross took action to help those in need of information about the runners and casualties. Google Person Finder also stepped up to assist in finding missing people by activating their disaster service. Along with those services, people opened their own homes to those out-of-state visitors who had nowhere to stay since hotels surrounding the bombing area were closed.
11. Trayvon Martin
When Trayvon Martin was shot by George Zimmerman, it spread more awareness that racism is still very much alive and nothing much has changed. On February 26, 2012, Zimmerman, a Florida neighborhood watch captain, shot Martin, who was unarmed, after the two exchanged words. After learning what had taken place that night, thousands were filled with anger and disbelief. Zimmerman said he acted in self-defense which the police chief backed up. However, the country believed it was an act of “hate crime” and racism.
Since the tragic event, a number of investigations took place including from the Department of Justice. In addition, the New Black Liberation members would travel to Florida to attempt a citizen’s arrest of Zimmerman. Social media took everything on another level spreading awareness for a better justice system. The world then saw people protesting the streets including riots in some cities but most were held as peaceful demonstrations of the trial verdict. To this day, we have organizations where people come together such as Black Lives Matter that strive to make a change for a better American justice system which has stirred up some controversy.
10. Isla Vista, Calif.
In an attack that left so many in shocked and hopeless, six were dead and seven were wounded after a shooting took place on May 23, 2014 in the college area of UC Santa Barbara, Isla Vista. Elliot Roger, a 22 year-old, had planned his attack for more than a year before, according to a report by the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office. In a video that Roger posted on his blog, he directly explains how he will murder everyone. “I’ll take great pleasure in slaughtering all of you. You will finally see that I am in truth the superior one, the true alpha male,” he said on the video. He left many wounded and killed, including himself.
Students came out to speak about the horrific sight they witnessed and how it hurt them that it happened on their own school campus. “It happens in other places, it doesn’t happen here,” a UC Santa Barbara senior said. “I feel like my pride as a UCSB student is hurt. It was a crazy, sick kid acting on his own. It shouldn’t be a reflection on us.”
The University of California took action by providing counseling services throughout the night for students and for anyone who had questions and concerns for the victims. Chancellor Henry T. Yang spoke on the tragic event in an open letter to the community of UCSB. “I am extremely proud of the way our community has come together during these difficult days to support each other and to remember and honor all the victims of last week’s tragedy. We are showing the world what it means to be a Gaucho. United in our efforts, I am certain that we are building a stronger university.”
9. Haiti Earthquake
In 2010, a 7.0 earthquake hit Haiti which was the strongest one to rock the country since 1770. The natural disaster left over 200,000 dead, and 5 million injured including 3 million homeless. It also led to 59 aftershocks that ranged from 4.2 to 5.9 magnitudes in strength.
According to the United Nations Office of the Special Envoy for Haiti, $13.34 billion in aid was allocated by international agencies. In addition, the U.S. government disbursed $3.1 billion. Aside from financial aid, UNICEF assisted to rebuild schools to a community of children with disabilities. Fast-forward to today, the senior country director mentioned how it’s slowly bouncing back from the catastrophe that damaged millions of people’s lives. “Over 88 percent of children are going to school, we’ve seen improvement in the weight of children, and we’ve seen a drastic improvement with some aspects of housing and civil protection.” Other responses included charitable and for-profit organizations.
8. Stanford Rape Case
Today, we watch more acts of injustice on the media which continues the debate of whether it’s a good or bad thing. The Stanford rape case this year was the recent example of how the American justice system needs a cleaning. Brock Turner found himself in a sexual assault case after attacking a 23-year-old girl who wasn’t a student at Stanford University during a night out partying. The victim explained she was unconscious and Turner was drunk but failed to acknowledge his actions. She then spoke about the inequities of the legal process by the trial as it sentenced the defendant just six months in jail. She wasn’t the only one disappointed; the public was outraged when they heard the news.
Many took to social media to express their feelings in which others supported. Shannon Rauch, a psychology professor from Benedictine University, said how social media can have a positive impact in cases like these. “When people are angry, they are motivated to see change happen,” she said. “So social media can definitely have a positive impact.” Others such as district attorney, Jeff Rosen, stated that the sentence “did not fit the crime.” “Campus rape is no different than off-campus rape,” he said. “Rape is rape.”
7. Colorado Springs, Colo. Planned Parenthood Shooting
Robert Lewis Dear was suspected as the gunman who started firing in a Planned Parenthood clinic in Colorado Springs, Colo., on November 27, 2015. Three people were killed including a cop, and two civilians in an almost six-hour standoff. Nine people were injured including five police officers and four civilians. However, Dear admitted he was the shooter saying he attacked the clinic because he was “upset with them performing abortions and the selling of baby parts.” He also said that he believed President Obama was the “Antichrist.”
Planned Parenthood provides services as a national health care provider. It offers reproductive health care and sex education for both women and men. But abortion is the one service that has been targeted as an issue. Campaigns, mainly from some Republican presidential candidates, have delivered the idea of selling fetal organs and other parts for profit. However, others continue to back up Planned Parenthood such as big corporations like Chevron and J.P. Morgan Chase. But the pro-life organization have endlessly tried stopping these corporations from donating to the health care provider.
6. Aurora, Colo.
What took place on July 20, 2012 in that movie theatre was something that took a while to actually face as a fact. Perhaps it’s because it was during an activity we all share in our daily lives and for something like this to happen, just changed everyone’s perspective on life. As a result of the mass shooting in the Century 16 movie theatre, 12 were killed and 58 were injured. James Holmes was taken into custody after attacking these lives during a local premiere of “The Dark Knight Rises.” The 24-year-old had entered the theatre room from an exit door in a very deliberate manner, according to the Aurora Police Chief. “He didn’t say anything,” a moviegoer who was in the room said about the deadly scene. “He kicked the door open with his foot and held it open with his foot and he threw something and it landed in the row in front of me. Then it, like, went off…kind of like a firework…and gas filled the room. All you heard was ‘Get down! Get down.”
As said before, the event left millions devastated and just simply disappointed. The Colorado Community has since taken serious action by providing services to those who are going through a mental health crisis. This comes as a result of the psychiatric evaluations of Holmes. With the new systems, mental health experts hope to decrease the chances of someone going through a mental stage to lose control like Holmes, and causing more disastrous events.
5. Paris Attack
The attack in Paris on November 13, 2015 left many heartbroken from all around the world. According to police reports, the suspect had been plotting the terror attack for 11 months. Police also said the attackers were either shot or blew themselves up. The several mass shootings that took place in Paris and the city’s northern suburb left 130 people killed and 368 injured. That wasn’t the only shooting that occurred in Paris that year. In January, a shooting that left 17 people dead had left a warning to the city. The November attacks were the deadliest in France since World War II. The ISIL (Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant) claimed it was an act of retaliating the French airstrikes on ISIL in Syria and Iraq.
The reactions from across the world were nothing but devastation and hopelessness. People used social media to express their compassion for the victims and their family. Parisians used the hashtag #portesouvertes, meaning “open doors”, to provide shelter to the ones who feared to travel back home safely. The French Army received applications in response to the attack in which was probably the most they ever received.
4. Michael Brown
In 2014, yet another case of an unarmed black male getting attacked-along with several other incidents we don’t hear about in the media-took over our nation as we watched the family of Michael Brown mourn the loss of their son. Brown was shot and killed by white police officer, Darren Wilson, in Ferguson, Missouri. As you can imagine, the tragic news caused protesters to become even more outraged and in demand of much needed change. Later that year in November, the St. Louis County prosecutor declared that a grand jury decided not to indict Mr. Wilson. As a result, the Justice Department declared the city had committed constitutional violations after more protests occurred in the city, including riots where buildings were set on fire and property was damaged.
These actions managed to stir up the controversy we now see more on a daily basis. However, organizations and celebrities have come together to spread more awareness such as John Legend and his new campaign called Free America which speaks on America’s criminal justice system.
3. Sandy Hook Elementary Shooting
A terrible tragedy that involved 20 children, who were shot and killed at Sandy Hook Elementary, took place in Newtown Conn. on December 14, 2012. The shooter, Adam Lanza, had shot and killed his own mother and then went on his way to shoot six adult staff members along with the children. This horrific incident became the deadliest mass shooting at a school in U.S. history on top of the third deadliest mass shooting by a single person.
The shooting propelled a bigger talk around the topic of gun control. President Barack Obama was in tears as he gave his speech on the misfortune and addressed some of the issues that need more awareness. “We’re going to have to come together and take meaningful action to prevent more tragedies like this, regardless of the politics.” In 2013, President Obama proposed universal background checks on the purchases of firearms and other weapon-related manners. New York was the first state to place the Secure Ammunition and Firearms Enforcement Act, followed by other restrictions and actions by Maryland, Connecticut and more states.
2. Hurricane Katrina
Hurricane Katrina became the United States’ costliest tragedy which hit New Orleans and close, surrounding areas on August 29, 2005. The largest and 3rd strongest hurricane made such an impact from those who needed to evacuate their homes to rising gas prices to the suffering of the economy. In addition, the hurricane left thousands of locals unemployed. More than half of the victims were senior citizens. In total, 1,836 people were reported dead-1,577 from Louisiana, 238 from Mississippi, 14 from Florida, 2 from Alabama and 2 from Georgia. The storm left 80 percent of the city under water. It was estimated to cost around $125 billion.
As a result of the deadly event, more than 70 countries pledged monetary donations along with other types of assistance. The largest donations came from Kuwait with $500 million along with China, India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh.
1. Orlando Shooting
The Orlando mass shooting was the worst and biggest shooting in U.S. modern history. Fifty people were killed while fifty-three were injured at the Pulse nightclub on June 16, 2016. Gunman, Omar Mateen, was killed in a shootout with SWAT officers, three hours after he started firing at the club-goers. Mateen had called 911 and pledged allegiance to Islamic State. The association to ISIS was unclear as well as the assumption of being homophobic, considering Pulse was a gay club.
The massacre led to a nation-wide debate about the topic of gun control and furthering the issue more. President Obama stated his concerns and feelings after the mass shooting. “This massacre is therefore a further reminder of how easy it is for someone to get their hands on a weapon that lets them shoot people in a school or in a house of worship or a movie theater or in a nightclub,” he said. “And we have to decide if that’s the kind of country we want to be. And to actively do nothing is a decision as well.” Since, a number of organizations, both nationally and locally, have lined up to help the victims and their families, including blood donations, relief funds, and campaigns.