Profile in Race -- SPOKANE -- Amadou Diallo was killed on Feb. 4, 1999 -- shot to death by four police officers in the hallway to his Bronx apartment. The 23-year-old worked in New York City as a street vendor, saving money to continue to go to college. But the officers thought Diallo was someone else, namely a suspected rapist they were looking for, so when he reached inside his jacket to take out his wallet, they fired 41 shots at him, 19 of which entered his body.
Today, Diallo's mom, Kadiatou Diallo, has become a national spokesperson for the struggle against racial profiling, and on Wednesday she'll speak at Eastern Washington University.
"It's not that long ago that we had a conference on racial profiling in Spokane," says Stephanie Ennis, director of student activities at EWU. "But I wouldn't say we are bringing Ms. Diallo out here to speak to address a particular issue in our own neighborhood -- she's here to address an issue in society."
The four police officers were later acquitted in Diallo's death, a fact that made Kadiatou Diallo even more determined to speak out against racial profiling.
In her many presentations, she often brings up that her son was an ordinary young man from a well-off African family who fell in love with America and took a job as a street peddler to pay for his schooling. Yet in a split second, the color of his skin determined his fate. Kadiatou Diallo is also expected to talk about her frustrations with the American justice system -- she currently has a civil suit pending against the officers who shot Diallo.
"We think people are aware of racial profiling in Spokane, even if we don't have a 'big case' right now," says Ennis. "What we are trying to do is to get people to think in a proactive manner, not a reactive manner, when it's too late." -- Pia K. Hansen
Diallo speaks at EWU-Cheney in the PUB's multipurpose room on Wednesday, April 16, at 7 pm. Free. Call: 359-2292.
Active Kids, Healthy Kids -- SPOKANE -- This week is National Public Health Week and spring break for many local young people, so it's the perfect time for the Spokane Regional Health District (SRHD) to give out free Family Guides containing tips for fun, healthy living during spring break and the rest of the year.
Almost half of young people ages 12-21 are overweight, and childhood obesity has reached its highest level in 30 years. Poor eating habits and inactivity are the leading causes of weight problems in the United States.
"I think one factor is that kids are not as physically active as they used to be," says Melanie Rose, spokeswoman for SRHD.
It is estimated that weight-related factors end the lives of 300,000 Americans every year, a number that makes obesity the second-leading cause of preventable death in the United States.
The Family Guide contains general health tips and a list of activities to get kids and adults off the couch and away from the nearest fast food joint.
"If you do these things, we'll start to see a decrease in the level of obesity," says Rose. "A lot of it is education -- it's focused on prevention. We encourage people to consider that the way they behave affects their health." -- Makayla Patrick
To get a copy of the Family Guide, call 324-1511.
They Keep Marching -- SPOKANE -- The Peace and Justice Action League of Spokane (PJALS) is planing a funeral march this Saturday in memory of those who have died on all sides during the war in Iraq.
PJALS has kept up vigils or protests since before the war started, and the group plans to continue its efforts -- however little effect they may have in Washington, D.C.
"I guess we don't expect it to have any influence on the administration's decisions that we are standing here saying stop the war," says Rusty Nelson, director of PJALS. "Currently, we are afraid of what an end to the war means -- it's going to be a nightmare for the U.S. and British troops left there. I think there will be an underground resistance to the idea of Iraq defined by the U.S."
This Saturday's march begins at the Gondola Meadow, with a historical overview of the war presented by local history professor Mark Santow and a performance by singer Kathy Colton. The procession -- carrying symbolic coffins and signs -- will run through downtown and return to Riverfront Park. -- Pia K. Hansen
The march begins on Saturday, April 12, at 1 pm in the Gondola Meadow at Riverfront Park (by the Runners). Call: 838-7870.