Home Fronts: A Peaceful Protest Prevails

By Wakeelah Bashir, Freelance Writer

Nearly 53 years ago during the 1967 Newark riots, residents protested violently in response to the community's mistreatment by those who were sworn to protect them--the police.

Contrary to the initiative the community is taking to end police brutality today, residents from all over New Jersey rallied together May 30 in Newark, New Jersey's largest city, to protest peacefully and bring awareness to racial injustice and police brutality following the death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

After a weekend without any violence or arrests being made, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy praised the city of Newark for its civil approach during the city's protest, considering its reputation of being one of the most dangerous cities in New Jersey.

Eighty-eight-year-old Newark resident Geraldine Little recalled the restless week in July 1967, describing it as a civil war between the Newark police and Newark residents.

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Home Fronts: ‘Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much’

By Jonathan Scott, Freelance Writer

June has just started and I already find myself at wit's end-- torn between trying to stay abreast of what's happening in the world on social media, and yet trying to distance myself from viewing the world's dueling health and social ills simultaneously.

During my usual virtual scrolling, I came across a quote from American author and activist Helen Keller, in which I found a rather profound meaning, solace, and significance in what's happening with and around me.

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Home Fronts: Inflamed Tensions

By Carnell White, Freelance Writer

HARLEM, N.Y. – Parts of New York's Brooklyn and The Bronx boroughs burned Tuesday night as demonstrations turned from peaceful to restless and from civil to looting, awakening "the city that never sleeps."

Large, visibly flustered and vocal crowds reacting to the unlawful death of George Floyd on May 25 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, gathered across New York City June 2 to vent and protest the injustice in the midst of COVID-19, according to city officials.

With fresh social media images going viral and media coverage of Floyd's arrest, detainment and ultimate demise, uproar sparked across the nation. What started out as hundreds of people quickly turned into thousands as people came together to have their voices heard in New York City streets.

"The city that never sleeps has been divided in the last three months (because of the coronavirus pandemic)," said social media influencer Lissette Hughes. "In May of 2020 it (Floyd's death) was given a reason to bring life back to the city of New York."

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Chesapeake Bay Foundation leads Virginia in oyster restoration project

By Lauren Grayson

Outside of Smithfield Station, a popular local seafood restaurant, an employee threw a bucket of empty oyster shells into an already overflowing bin labeled "CAUTION: Oyster Restoration at Work."

"Every day, when the cooks take out the trash, they dispose of the oyster shells in a separate bin," store manager Evan Thomas said.

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation collects the shells and uses them to construct and maintain the oyster reefs.

"The bin is in front of the restaurant so that when customers walk in, they can see the work that's being done," Thomas said. "It makes us feel like we're really making a difference because where we would otherwise just throw the shells away, we're finding a way to repurpose them."

Smithfield Station and the Chesapeake Bay Foundation are trying to increase the number of oysters and slow the rate of species endangerment by increasing the variety of life that exists within freshwater, tidal and marine ecosystems.

Jackie Shannon, manager for the Virginia Oyster Restoration Center, is responsible for gathering volunteers to produce and place man-made clumps of collected oyster shells into the ocean.

"My role is to be a lot more hands-on with the work that we do," Shannon said. "What me and my volunteers do is place clumps of oysters, called hatchery clumps, into the ocean. The goal is that eventually, they'll naturally recruit oyster larvae, producing more baby oysters that will grow to create reef structures. These structures will then eventually serve as a habitat for underwater wildlife."

According to Shannon, these oyster reef structures require years of monitoring. However, if successful, they become self-sustainable and create diverse aquatic ecosystems that have a huge biological impact.

This biological impact includes the preservation of the genetic information of these species, which potentially hold the cure to future diseases and contain overall solutions for survival. As soon as a species goes extinct, all of their genetic information is lost.

According to the Virginia Cooperative Extension, water animals and plants are our legacy to future generations. "Preventing habitat loss is the first important step to take in protecting our native species, and restoring important degraded habitat is the second step."

The Chesapeake Bay Foundation would be unable to restore degraded aquatic habitats at a steady rate without the community's participation. "Building relationships with the community is essential to progress being made," said Christy Everett, Hampton Roads director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation. "My job is to build important relationships not only with the government, but with community leaders and representatives as well. Partnering with them is crucial to our goal of improving aquatic biodiversity and improve the local water quality as well."

Yancey Powell, manager of education for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation's Jenny S. Workboat Education Program, actively educates students and their teachers on the environmental health of the Hampton Roads waterways.

"Maintaining the waterways is crucial to the survival of certain species here," Powell said. "Overfishing is definitely a problem, whether it be because of huge fisheries or individuals who frequently fish in the waterways illegally."

"Either way, they are altering and impacting the environment around them, which is why we then have to come in and make sure that they still have an underwater environment to come back to!"

Meanwhile, one shell at a time, the Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Virginia restaurants will continue to do their part to restore oyster reefs and create a more diverse aquatic ecosystem together.