City of Blue Springs Media Advisory
For Immediate Release: April 10, 2002
Citys Youth Outreach Unit to Receive
Federal Funding for Gothic Culture Research
(Blue Springs, Mo. April 10, 2002) The Blue Springs Police Departments Youth Outreach Unit (Y.O.U.) is seeking federal grant funds in the amount of $237,437 to address local issues and concerns in Blue Springs and Eastern Jackson County involving youth associated with the gothic culture. The money from the grant, which is being supported by Blue Springs Congressional Representative Sam Graves, has tentatively been earmarked and approved by the Federal Appropriations Committee. The Blue Springs Youth Outreach Unit provides critical public safety crime prevention and at risk youth services. The recent gothic culture movement in the area over the past two years has given rise to concerns among city and school district officials, businesses, families, and concerned residents. These concerns center on the potential increase in youth crime, drug use, self-mutilation, depression, suicide, and various acts of violence sometimes found among extreme members of the gothic culture.
Approximately one third of Y.O.U.s funding comes from state, federal, and county funding. The funding for the proposed gothic program will supplement existing services already in place and allow the city to target additional at risk youth in the gothic culture. The funding will support public safety efforts including surveillance, training, education, awareness, and youth and family counseling in order to reduce incidences of criminal and delinquent activity tied to this youth movement and counter culture. The population served will be the City of Blue Springs and the surrounding communities. This project is committed to accomplishing three goals.
City will host town hall and informational meetings, with the purpose of
educating community members so they will be better informed about the
gothic culture. These meetings will be aimed at helping to identify the
signs and symptoms of at-risk kids, and gothic related activity that may
lead to severe self-abuse, drug use and other criminal activity.
City will conduct detailed educational trainings for front-line staff in
the Blue Springs School district, where most initial encounters with the
gothic culture are made. Training will be directed toward principals,
counselors, teachers, nurses, bus drivers, paraprofessionals, mental
health workers, clinicians, school resource officers, youth associated
police officers, church pastors and assistants, faith-based organization
leaders, youth group sponsors, and after-school club leaders whose primary
responsibility is to identify, serve, and/or refer youth to appropriate
funding will also provide assessments, individual, family and/or group
therapy, case management, and follow-up sessions for youth that clearly
have behavior problems that could lead to negative and harmful
participation in the gothic culture.
By educating individuals who work with youth about
gothic characteristics, music, books, magazines, jewelry, fashion trends,
movies, comic books, various subsets and language, we hope to make them
more aware of who they are interacting with and what the potential is for
at-risk youth to take this movement to an unexpected level of harming
themselves or others.
The Youth Outreach Unit of the Blue Springs Police
Department brings together a committed team of professionals with
extensive training and experience in prevention services and youth
intervention to provide supportive services to the youth of the community.
The mission of the Y.O.U. is to provide services to children and families
in crisis, respond to youth who are engaged in life-threatening or
criminal behaviors, empower young people to make healthy lifestyle
choices, and to act as a partner with the citizens and community providers
in Blue Springs who make a positive impact in the lives of young people.
Want to let them know what you think? Write them an e-mail or give them a call:
Colby Lalli, Assistant Director of Y.O.U. (816-228-0178) or Eric Johnson, Assistant City Administrator (816-228-0110)
In 1999-SEP-7, The Roswell Independent School District in New Mexico had a dress code that stated (in part): "...Any attire associated with gothic, satanic, or occult-type activities such as trench coats, knee high boots, all-black clothing, spiked jewelry, upside-down crosses, swastika, tattoos, pentagrams, etc...are prohibited.." The son of Katherine King, owner of a local Pagan book store in Roswell, discovered the ban during a school assignment. He asked why such a prohibition was in place, because it was such an obvious violation of the 1st Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This triggered a study which resulted in a recommendation by the school staff that the ban on religious symbols be removed - specifically the prohibition on pentagrams. Legal staff from the city advised that the ban was unconstitutional, as written. At a school district meeting, over 200 people attended. Many were from the conservative Christian Church On The Move; some were from other conservative Christian groups. After an emotional 3 hour discussion, the board voted whether to change the dress code. It was a 2 - 2 tie. This meant that the existing prohibition continued. Kathyrn King, described by the Roswell Daily Record as a "Pagan activist," is reported as saying that she will ask the American Civil Liberties Union to mount a lawsuit against the school board. 1,2
On SEP-12, the Roswell Daily Record News published an interview with Steve Smothermon, pastor of the Church on the Move. He indicated that their goal was not to deny any students the right to wear their religious symbol. "Our whole point was, nobody has the right to promote violence in our school system." Referring to Kathryn King, he continued: "If [the dispute is]...all about a symbol, change her symbol...But she shouldn’t be allowed to promote anything which promotes violence."
Mary Reeves, a member of Smothermon's congregation, said that the pentagram has been viewed as a Satanic symbol for centuries. "Why would they [the Neopagans] pick a violent symbol to promote their love? It’s been known as being violent from the medieval age on."
State Senator Rod Adair, (R-Roswell) expressed support for the pentagram ban. He said: "In an era when the term ‘zero tolerance’ for drugs, guns, knives and violence is the watchword of the day, it is inconceivable that we would allow symbols which directly promote Satanic worship and the violence and bloodshed which are part of it." His mention of violence and bloodshed apparently refers to the Satanic Ritual Abuse hoax. During the 1990's and early 1990's, many North Americans believed that Satanists ritually abused and killed tens of thousands of children annually. The belief has largely dissipated due to the complete lack of hard evidence. However, many conservative Christians are still convinced that it happens; Senator Adair is apparently one.
Smothermon doubts that the wearing of a pentagram is protected by law. "What ruling allows for violence to be promoted in our school system? I want to know what law that is. If they’re talking about the equal access law, that has no bearing on this issue." (The equal access law is a federal statute which assures that religious clubs and religious expression are guaranteed the same rights as secular clubs and secular speech). He continued: "They have the right to worship what they want to worship; that is not in question here."
On 1999-SEP-21, the school board again met to discuss the issue. The meeting was attended by about 400 Christians and just over 20 Pagans. The police had an obvious presence. Prayer meetings inside and outside the meeting area were held throughout the evening. The discussion period involving extensive public input. Speakers threatened to remove students from the school system if pentagrams were allowed; some called for a religious battle in the courts and offered to help with legal costs; some opposed the wearing of pentagrams anywhere, not just by students in school. The general consensus of the Christians at the meeting was that the pentagram is, and always will be, a Satanic symbol to them. One Native American spoke of Christians stripping his culture of their talking stick and other symbols of his faith. He said that he found the Christian cross offensive because, to him, it stood for the destruction of his culture. Many Wiccans and other Neopagans spoke, asking for tolerance, understanding and human rights. The board finally voted to cancel the previous dress code and substitute: "No student on school property or at any school activity shall wear, possess, use, distribute, display or sell any clothing, jewelry, emblem, badge, symbol, sign or other item that currently evidences or reflects membership in, or affiliation with, any gang." The vote was 4 to 1. The board decided to allow the wearing of Neopagan religious symbols. Those supporting the change indicated that they based their decision on constitutional considerations; the one person who was opposed based their decision on the massive outpouring of public concern. The Church on the Move threatened legal action to reinstate the ban.
A youth-outreach program in Missouri expected to spend $273,000 to combat "Goth culture" was among the $20.1 billion that Congress doled out for pet projects in fiscal year 2002, according to the "Pig Book" released today.
The "Pig Book," the annual report on pork projects from Citizens Against Government Waste, calculates the number and dollar total of earmarked projects from parking garages to grants to universities.
The 8,341 "earmarked" projects are 32 percent more than last year's 6,333, and the $20.1 billion appropriated represents an increase of 9 percent over 2001.
Among the other projects funded are a $50,000 tattoo-removal program in San Luis Obispo, Calif., and a $450,000 appropriation to restore chimneys on Cumberland Island in Georgia.
Earmarks are projects that Congress says must be funded; the rest of the appropriations are left up to executive departments and agencies to spend. The Bush administration has been critical of earmarks, arguing that they take away agencies' discretion to spend money properly.
The book's authors say specific earmarks are hurting the nation's ability to fight the war on terrorism.
"Here is a simple math equation that doesn't need federal funds: in fiscal 2001 there was $18.5 billion in pork-barrel spending and Pentagon officials predict an $18 billion shortfall in the defense budget to fight the war on terrorism," the report says.
But John Scofield, spokesman for Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee, said they have made a conscious effort to avoid earmarking counter terrorism funds. He also said earmarks aren't a real problem overall.
"When it comes to the big budget picture, they're small potatoes," he said. "Using [administration] figures, which aren't exactly earmark-friendly, it's about 0.7 percent of the total federal budget. If the goal here is fiscal discipline, you're barking up the wrong tree."
The kings of pork are in the Senate, and it's a bipartisan group, the report says.
The three top states in terms of earmarks-per-capita are Alaska, Hawaii and West Virginia — and Sens. Robert C. Byrd, West Virginia Democrat; Ted Stevens, Alaska Republican; and Daniel K. Inouye, Hawaii Democrat, all sit on the Senate Appropriations Committee. Mr. Byrd is the chairman and Mr. Stevens is the top Republican.
By contrast, Florida, home of Rep. C.W. Bill Young, the Republican chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, ranks 36th. Wisconsin, the home state of top panel Democrat Rep. David R. Obey, is 28th.
In 2001, the third highest per-capita pork state was Mississippi — home state of Sen. Trent Lott, the Republican who was majority leader until last May. Since Sen. James M. Jeffords of Vermont said he would leave the Republican Party, become an independent and hand control of the Senate to Democrats, Mississippi has fallen to sixth on the list.
On the flip side, South Dakota jumped from ninth to fourth this year, coinciding with the state's senior senator, Tom Daschle, going from minority leader to majority leader, and with Tim Johnson, South Dakota's other Democratic senator, getting a seat on the Appropriations Committee.
"Leadership has its privileges," said David Williams, co-author of the "Pig Book." "We saw a shift, [in] the springtime when Jeffords made the shift, we just saw a lot of the Democrats getting their hands back into it."
Jen Siciliano, a spokeswoman for Mr. Stevens, said the senator had not seen the report, and a spokesman for Mr. Byrd didn't return a phone call.
But when last year's report was released, Mr. Stevens and Mr. Byrd took to the Senate floor to defend themselves.
"I know West Virginia, and what's one man's pork is another man's job," Mr. Byrd said.