August 2016 Issue

  • Muy Cubano!

    Virginia may not seem to be home for many of the 55 million Hispanics in the United States, whose largest members are Mexican, Puerto Rican and Cuban. Only about 600,000 Hispanics now call the Old Dominion their home.

    But what about Cubans living in Southwest Virginia? Miami’s Little Havana is more often associated with this ethnic enclave.

    Here are the stories of four local residents of Cuban descent who are thriving in Southwest Virginia. The decade in which they arrived reflects the broader political and economic relationships between Cuba, the United States and the rest of the world.

    ‘We build great things’

    Yuri Torres hails from Holguín on the eastern side of the island, a region with high levels of unemployment.

    As his first name indicates, the Soviet influence following the Cuban revolution of 1959 was strong. In any given Cuban family on the island, those born in the 1950s would often use traditional Spanish names (Francisco, Maria, Juan, Amalia). Yuri’s generation got Soviet names like his, or others such as Nuirca, Vladimir, or Boris.

    Yuri was aware of Roanoke because a relative emigrated there in the 1990s.

    While on a trip overseas in 2005, he and his then-fiancée sought political exile status and made their way to the United States, where his grandparents, uncles and cousins sponsored him. He joined their construction business and married his fiancée. Today, both are parents to a six- and three-year-old.

    Yuri owns Towers Construction (no relation to Towers Shopping Center in Roanoke). The name is a direct translation of his last name (Torres), because  — in Yuri’s words —“we build great things, like towers!”

    Yuri has no regrets: “I feel fortunate to live in the greatest country in the world where I can fulfill my dreams, take care of my family here, and send money back home.”

    Never has he felt or heard overt prejudice, he said, or been called derogatory names.

    A hit out of the park

    If cigars, rum and salsa music are synonymous with all things Cuban, so is baseball. Introduced onto the island by Cubans studying at southern military schools after the U.S. Civil War, the game is now the national sport.

    So when 28-year-old Carlos Mesa was vacationing in El Salvador and a recruiting scout saw him hit one out of the park, his life was about to change.

    “I weighed 250 pounds, and the trainer sent me right to the gym for 90 days, without ever once stepping on the baseball diamond.” He shed 35 pounds and was signed to the Pittsburgh Pirates Single-A division team in Bradenton, Fla. in 2012.

    Mesa knows what it is like to live in medium-sized southern U.S. towns.

    “I can honestly say, after having lived and worked with baseball teams in Greenville, South Carolina, and Charleston, West Virginia, the warmth and affection of Roanoke and Salem is striking. And people recognize me when I go into the store: ‘Hey, you’re the player from the [Salem] Red Sox, right?’ ”

    Mesa feels especially at home when he and his Venezuelan and Dominican roommates dine at El Cubanito restaurant in Salem, whose owner turns out to be a relative of Estela González (see below).

    “I love southern pulled pork, mind you, and the barbecue around here is great. But El Cubanito brings me back home in so many ways.”

    From refugees to

    In her first trimester of pregnancy, Estela González and her husband Manuel Hidalgo set out for the United States on a rickety boat in 1994, when the loss of Soviet aid made life tough. After five days at sea the Bahamian coast guard, who repatriated them to the U.S. Naval Base at Guantánamo, picked them up.

    After six months of living with 35,000 other refugees in tents on the beach, the Catholic Church resettled them.

    “The migration officer pointed to Roanoke on a map and said, ‘This city is going places, and you and your husband seem like hard workers. In 15 or 20 years you’ll be glad you went there.’”

    Fast-forward 20-plus years. Estela’s daughter, Helen, is now studying nursing at Virginia Western. She and Miguel operate Cuban Island Restaurant on Williamson Road in Roanoke.

    “We tested the waters, first with a food truck. Things went well, so we saved and started the restaurant,” reports González.

    Beaming across the table she tells me, “Roanokers from all walks of life have received us spectacularly well.” 

    Across the dining room I speak with a local mom and her two home-schooled children, an engineer and her husband, and a Dominican family.

    “Is the food good?” I ask the customers. They all smile and give a big thumbs-up.

    ‘A great place to call home’

    Gilda Machín of Blacksburg had three days back in June 1967 to decide whether she wanted to leave the home of her aunt and grandmother — with whom she had lived for seven years — or join her mother in New York City. Unlike Estela and thousands of others who took to rafts to cross over to the United States, Machín was part of the orderly, weekly “Freedom Flights” started by President Lyndon Johnson. 

    From a small town in Cuba’s Camaguey Province, she found herself living on the 26th floor of a Manhattan high-rise.

    “When I reached New York, I was mesmerized by the city lights,” she says.

    Thanks to English as a Second Language classes and a tutor in the first year, she went on to earn a B.A. at Rutgers University. 

    “I have moved quite a few times, but I’ve been in Blacksburg almost 30 years, and it is a great place to call home.”

    Like Estela and Carlos, Cuban food is important to Machín. She blends a little bit of Cuban cuisine in her home cooking in Blacksburg, where she works as an event planner. Her Thanksgiving turkey stuffing, for instance, includes fried plantains to add a bit of sweetness and to absorb the turkey’s succulence.

    Like Mesa, González and Torres, Machín says the New River and Roanoke valleys offer a great place to raise a family. 

    “The slow pace and friendliness of Blacksburg is a welcome change from life in the big city. Blacksburg is a wonderful place to spend my golden years, too.”

    *Joseph L. Scarpaci is Executive Director of The Center for the Study of Cuban Culture + Economy in Blacksburg, VA. He is the author of Pittsburgh and the Appalachians: Cultural and Natural Resources in a Post-industrial Age (University of Pittsburgh Press, 2005) and co-author of Marketing without Advertising: Brand Preference and Consumer Choice in Cuba (Routledge, 2012). He is married to Gilda Machín, attests to her good cooking and has visited Cuba 80 times.

  • Understanding your health

    Allergy season is often associated with the warm weather of spring. For many, however, the itching, sneezing, coughing and wheezing continues well into the summertime.


    The biggest culprits? Pollen from grasses and weeds. Summer air pollution and smog can also contribute to allergies.   


    Allergies are diseases of the immune system. An allergic reaction arises when the immune system mistakenly identifies something harmless, such as pollen, dust mites, pet dander or food, as invading the body. The immune system overreacts in an attempt to protect the body which can trigger typical allergy symptoms — a runny nose, congestion, wheezing, hives, etc.


    Asthma and allergies can, and often time do, occur together. Asthma presents itself in two ways — allergic asthma and non-allergic asthma.


    For some individuals, allergic reactions can affect the lungs and lead to allergic asthma symptoms. Conversely, non-allergic asthma is triggered by factors not related to allergies. Exercise, anxiety, stress, smoke, viruses, and other irritants trigger non-allergic asthma. 


    Signs and symptoms of an asthma attack vary from person to person. However, early warning signs of an asthma attack may include:

    Frequent coughing

    Losing breath easily or shortness of breath

    Feeling tired/weak during exercise while also wheezing and coughing

    Signs of a cold or upper respiratory infection

    Difficulty sleeping



    Having a family history of allergies does not necessarily mean you will acquire allergies, but you have the genetic capability to become allergic. A family history of allergies is also a major risk factor for allergic asthma. It is common for allergies to present themselves in childhood or early adulthood.


    Under the supervision of a physician, proper management of allergies and asthma can result in affected individuals living healthy, active lives. Common over-the-counter remedies include eye drops, nasal sprays decongestants and other antihistamines. Your physician may need to prescribe inhalers depending on the severity of your asthma.


    It should be noted that allergy and asthma symptoms can change over time, so it is important to regularly consult your physician.


    For more information, visit

  • Lifting up others with Lupus


    Alyshia Merchant looks like any other woman in her twenties. One would never suspect that she has an illness. Women of color are three times more likely to have lupus than white women, yet lupus remain a mystery to much of the minority community. For this reason, Alyshia has chosen to speak out about her battle with lupus.

    Q. The dictionary defines lupus as an autoimmune disease. Can you explain that in layman’s terms?

    A. The easiest way for me to explain lupus is to refer to it as a self-allergy. The average person’s body immune system tries to protect itself against foreign invaders. When a person has lupus, their body cannot tell the difference between the healthy tissue and the non-healthy tissue. So the immune system is overactive and therefore attacking everything.

    Q. According to my research, lupus is hard to identify. What was the process that led to your diagnosis?

    In August of 2012, I started to feel really tired. I was working a full-time job, going to school, and had no previous health issues. So at first I thought I was just over-worked. However, as more time passed, I became more and more fatigued. One day I remember, I was driving home and I was so tired I had to pull over to sleep. At that point, I realized something was seriously wrong. I went to the emergency room several times. Each time I was sent home with the recommendation to get more sleep, even though sleeping was almost all I was capable of doing. I was still exhausted. By October, I had developed the butterfly rash on my face and had visible swelling in my feet. My body temperature reached 105 degrees. After yet another trip to the emergency room and a biopsy, I was told I tested positive for lupus nephritis, which is a kind of lupus that attacks the kidney.

    Q. Is there a cure for lupus?

    A. Unfortunately, at this time there is no cure. There are recommended treatments. I started on the steroid Prednisone, which led to a lot of insecurity. The side effects caused me to gain weight and I had swollen cheeks. I was constantly sick because my body was more susceptible to colds and viruses and my immune system was so weak. I went into kidney failure in 2014, so I had to undergo chemotherapy. Most people think of chemo as being solely for cancer patients, but during my treatment I met people with various illnesses.

    Q. Did the chemo help? Are you currently in remission?

    A. I was in remission until April of this year. I started having severe headaches and not being able to maintain my balance. I had to stay with my Mom because I was falling all the time. My vision in my right eye started to fade. I had a seizure and was hospitalized. We found out that the lupus had spread to my central nervous system. So I currently have swelling on the right side of my brain from the build-up of fluid on my spine. I’m taking diuretics in attempt to remove the fluid. If that doesn’t work I may have to have a shunt.

    Q. That is a heavy burden to carry. What is it like to live with lupus on a daily basis?

    A. It’s hard. Because lupus is an autoimmune disease, most of the symptoms are internal. So I don’t always look sick. Sometimes I feel like I’m hiding. It’s difficult to pretend to be alright when your body is attacking itself. Only once I became more open with my diagnoses did it become somewhat easier. I started the organization Making Lupus Look Good to be more vocal about the disease. When you don’t look sick, people tend to lack compassion. People may see me running errands and think that because I look OK, I am OK. What they don’t understand is the number of pills I have to take on a daily basis to look OK. I’m a mother, so there are days that even though I am ill, I still have to function. Lupus doesn’t change the fact that my daughter needs me. I have to be strong for her.

    Q. How do you remain optimistic knowing lupus is a life-long illness?

    A. Having lupus has humbled me. In my youth I was very much about appearances. I’ll be honest, I was vain. My vanity was the first thing to go. I lost my hair.  Now I’ve learned that looks can be deceiving. It has made me more understanding. I know that you never know what someone is dealing with inside. I set a goal for each day. Some days, that goal may be a simple as doing the dishes. But it helps me to know I set a goal and accomplished it. Lupus may slow me down, but it will not stop me.

    Q. You mentioned that you are a mother; do you have a support system you can lean on?

    A. My support comes from my faith and my family. When my vision and balance was compromised, my Mom didn’t hesitate. She told me to come back home. Sometimes there are things that I want to do, but I can’t. Being in sunlight isn’t good for people with lupus, so my sister is there to take my daughter to the park. When I struggled financially because of missing work, my family chipped in. I can’t imagine how I would have come this far without them. But the truth is many people don’t have that support. This is why it’s so important to talk about lupus. People should know they
    are not alone.



    for more information on how you can contribute to the fight against lupus.

  • Stedman Speaks

    Stedman Payne is an experienced financial professional who serves as Member One’s Market Executive in the Lynchburg area. His financial educational series offers tips for making smart decisions when it comes to managing your finances. In this edition, Stedman wants to tell you all about your credit score: what it is, why it’s important, and how to keep it in top shape.

    Q: What is a credit score?

    SP: Your credit score, or creditworthiness, is a number that ranges from 300 to 850. Anything above 700 is generally viewed as good credit. A good credit score signals to potential lenders that you are more likely to pay back your debts on time. A credit score determines whether you’re approved or denied for a credit card or loan, and if you will have a high or low interest rate.

    Q: How can I find out my credit score?

    SP: The three major credit reporting agencies — Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion — are required by law to provide you with a free credit report every 12 months. To request a free copy, visit or call toll-free, 1-877-322-8228. Be cautious of websites that advertise a “free” credit report. They often require you to sign up for a monthly subscription fee in order to receive your report.

    Q: What impacts my credit score?

    SP: On-time payments have a big impact. Alternatively, just one or two late payments can significantly lower your score. Your credit card utilization rate — available credit compared with how much you’re using — also affects your score. If you’ve ever had a bill go to collections, declared bankruptcy, or had a foreclosure, your score will go down. The number of credit cards, auto and student loans, mortgages and other lines of credit that are in your name also matter. And believe it or not, the more accounts (in good standing) the better because it shows that multiple lenders have approved you.

    Q: If my credit score is low, what are some quick and easy ways to improve it?

    SP: Pay your bills on time. One of the biggest factors that impacts your credit score is whether you repay your agreed-upon debts. Other ways to improve credit include paying down a credit card balance to improve your utilization rate, and keeping lines of credit open with zero balances. Both of these strategies show lenders that you’re able to manage debt and aren’t biting off more than you can chew.

    Q: Once I start working on repairing my credit, how long will it take for the score to go up?

    SP: You know the saying that ‘time heals all wounds’? The same is true for bad credit. It may take several years before the information disappears, but once it’s gone it no longer impacts your credit score. For example, it generally takes seven to 10 years before a bankruptcy disappears from your report. A late or defaulted payment will take less time than that.

    Q: My credit score must be great because I keep getting credit card offers in the mail with special rates just for me. Should I take advantage of these?

    SP: The quick answer is no. Many of these credit card offers will claim that you’re “pre-approved” for a super-low introductory rate. Read the fine print. These offers typically start out with a low interest rate that drastically increases after a few months. They’re also usually loaded with hidden fees. If you’re in the market for a credit card, be proactive and shop around for the best card that helps you reach your financial goals.

    Q: My credit is not perfect, but I’d really like to buy a home. How can I make that dream a reality?

    SP: While your credit score is important, it’s just one of the qualifying factors for a home loan. Lenders will examine your overall financial picture including income and assets in addition to creditworthiness. If you’re shopping for a home or car loan and don’t have perfect credit, don’t worry. It’s possible to get a mortgage with a low credit score from some lenders. A good lender is willing to work with your current financial situation, imperfections and all. If you don’t get approved for a loan right now, try again in the future. There are steps you can take to repair your credit, get back on a positive financial track, and get into the home of your dreams.

    Watch out for Stedman Payne’s column in the next edition of ColorsVA for more useful financial tips.

  • Zika Virus: Explained

    Zika virus was reported in Africa and Southeast Asia as early as 1947, but it has increased in prevalence around the globe. In February of 2016, the World Health Organization declared Zika a Public Health Emergency of International Concern (PHEIC). Dr. Stephanie Harper, Director of the Roanoke City & Alleghany Health Departments of Virginia’s Department of Health, wants everyone in Southwest Virginia to understand the realities of Zika virus and what you can do to prevent infection.

    In Virginia, we have Asian tiger mosquitoes, the mosquitoes that can carry Zika virus. This summer many residents
    will also travel to locations where Zika virus may be spreading.

    Whether you are male or female and regardless of whether you remain at home or travel for work, vacation, a mission trip or to visit with family, it is important to understand how to protect yourself and others. 

    While symptoms of Zika Virus Disease may be mild, it is the risk of Zika virus exposure to fetuses and newborn babies that causes the greatest concern. Everyone (men and women) can help to prevent the spread of Zika by taking
    preventive measures in their daily lives. Below are some useful facts and measures you can take to help protect
    yourself and keep unborn children from suffering severe health complications.


    Zika virus usually causes mild disease. Most people infected with Zika virus won’t know they have the disease because 80 percent won’t experience any noticeable symptoms. If symptoms do develop they are usually mild and can include fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes (conjunctivitis) for up to a week.


    Zika virus is primarily spread by the bite of a mosquito.  The mosquitoes responsible for spreading Zika Virus Disease are the yellow fever mosquito (Aedes aegypti) and the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). They usually bite during the daytime. 


    It can also be sexually transmitted. Zika virus can also be spread by sexu-al transmission and from a pregnant woman to her fetus.


    Care options are limited. There is currently no vaccine to prevent the virus from causing disease or any medicine to cure it. The symptoms of the disease can be treated with supportive measures like getting rest and preventing dehydration.


    Pregnant women can pass Zika virus during pregnancy. We do not know how likely it is that a pregnant woman will pass the virus to her fetus.  We do know that Zika virus infection during pregnancy has been linked to severe brain defects.


    Microcephaly is a lifelong condition in which a baby’s head fails to develop fully and grows smaller than expected. Microcephaly has been linked to a number of developmental delays and intellectual disabilities, physical disabilities and seizures in children. It is a severe complication of Zika Virus Disease. While microcephaly can be caused by a variety of different factors, in the 2015 Brazilian outbreak, Zika virus was linked to microcephaly.


    Prevent mosquito bites

    - Wear long sleeve shirts and pants

    - When possible, stay in places with air conditioning

    - Repair damaged screens on doors and windows to prevent mosquitoes from entering

    - Use EPA-registered insect repellants and follow all instructions on the product label

    - Apply sunscreen before insect repellent to get active protection from both products

    - Avoid standing water.

    TIP CONTAINERS – drain standing water from garbage cans, house gutters, downspout extenders, pool covers, cooler, toys, flower pots and any other containers where sprinklers or rain water has collected (for example, buckets, pots, tires, swimming pools, wheel barrows, and trash cans)


    TOSS – discard old tires, drums, bottles, cans, pots and pans, broken appliances and any other items that are outside and aren’t being used


    birdbaths and pets’ water bowls at least once or twice a week


    PROTECT boats and vehicles from rain with tarps that don’t accumulate water

    - Prevent the sexual transmission of Zika virus

    - Use condoms correctly every time or don’t have sex

    - If you are pregnant, avoid traveling to areas affected by Zika

    - If you are pregnant, avoid traveling to areas where Zika virus is spreading

    - Prior to your next trip, review a map of areas with active Zika Virus Transmissions ( and speak with your healthcare provider

    - If your male partner recently traveled to an area with Zika, talk to your healthcare provider

    If you must
    travel to areas with Zika:

    - When you return, avoid mosquito bites for three weeks following your trip to avoid spreading Zika to mosquitoes that can then bite someone else and spread the disease

    - Avoid sexual activity if you experience fever, rash, joint pain or red eyes (conjunctivitis) and contact your healthcare provider


    If you are experiencing symptoms, please visit your local healthcare provider and specifically express your concerns.

    For additional public health information visit the Virginia Health Department website at or the national Centers for Disease Control website at


    This article is part two of a five-part series from the Roanoke City & Alleghany Health Departments of the Virginia Department of Health meant to inform local residents about the preventive measures they can take to protect the health of their families and friends this summer.


    The Roanoke City & Alleghany Health Departments are working to prevent the spread of disease, protect the environment, prevent injury, promote and encourage healthy behavior, respond to disasters and assist communities in recovery, and assure the quality and accessibility of health services for all members of our community.

  • Family’s values fuels fresh flavors


    At age seven, I’m pretty certain the only thing I was “cooking” was a bowl of Fruit Loops. As part of a traditional Italian family, Chef Tina at Ceritano’s Restaurant in Blacksburg tells me that she has been making pasta since she was this age. “This is the way it is,” she says. “I have three sisters, and they all have to cook.”

    Owner Nino Ceritano tells me that “I love food and yes, I cook but Tina does mostly — she is the heart of the restaurant, and the talent.”

    Ceritano’s is located directly across from Virginia Tech’s campus at 428 N. Main Street along a strip that contains other restaurants and shops. When walking in, you see tables with white tablecloths, fresh flowers and a bottle of wine for additional atmosphere. There is upbeat music playing, three large televisions behind the fully stocked bar and a view into the open kitchen to see your dishes being created.

    Nino’s father brought him to the United States from the Abruzzo region of Italy almost 30 years ago, first to Pennsylvania and then to Blacksburg. The restaurant has been open since 2003 and Nino says, “The most popular days are definitely Friday and Saturday. We also have special events and catering for parties and receptions.” The restaurant uses a lot of fresh ingredients and “the pasta is made fresh every day. We have a garden and what we can’t grow comes from the farmer’s market. It’s harder in the winter but we do our best … fresh is always best,” he affirms.

    Our server informs us that the bread is baked fresh every day as well and basically the only things they don’t make in house are the penne pasta and gluten-free pizza crust. That being said, fresh bread was brought to us prior to our meal along with a bottle of olive oil for dipping. The bread has a flaky crust and is soft and chewy on the inside. The earthy flavor of the olive oil is tasty, but not needed.

    Our appetizer of Bruschetta Tomato, described as freshly diced tomatoes marinated with extra virgin olive oil, basil and garlic and served over toasted bread, arrived fairly quickly. Upon first bite you can tell that the tomatoes are fresh; there is no tin-like flavor indicating that they could’ve come out of a can. There are a few basil leaves placed on top as well, which adds an earthy complement to the garlic and sweet tomatoes.

    My daughter received her entrée, a full plate of Angel Hair Pasta with Crabmeat. The menu description is homemade angel hair pasta, crabmeat, olive oil, wine and parsley – with a touch of marinara. These are the exact flavors that you get in every bite of this delicious dish.  The pasta is light and there is crabmeat throughout every bite; the individual ingredients work well together. As much as she wanted to finish the dish, she got a “to-go” container to enjoy it for lunch the following day.

    My husband, Kirk, selected the Linguine Vongole Veraci (linguine with small clams in the shell) described as homemade linguine with small clams, white wine sauce and a touch of marinara. There is a good amount of clams and because they are small, the brininess does not steal the show from the tender pasta and the light marinara. Worth mentioning is that the plates have a couple of lemon slices which offer a citrusy aroma to the meal.

    I’m a fan of fresh herbs, so I chose the Rosemary Chicken — chicken breast sautéed with lemon, wine, rosemary and a touch of marinara — served with homemade pasta. The two thinly presented chicken breasts were very tender and well-cooked.  Some of the sprigs of rosemary were bigger than the others making it a little hard to chew but the flavor itself wasn’t overwhelming, just enough to know it’s there. The pasta is very light and the tomatoes in the marina offer that freshness that was a theme throughout the meal. I had plenty to take home for leftovers.

    We were also able to taste the Margherita Pizza, baked in the brick oven built by Nino, a bricklayer by trade.  The restaurant has won awards for its brick-oven pizzas and I can understand why. The pizza is topped with fresh mozzarella, a very light red sauce and thin strips of basil. The pizza fills a whole plate, the crust is crisp, foldable and seasoned perfectly.

    Another special we tasted was the Chitarra Pallottine, a traditional equivalent to Americanized spaghetti and meatballs. The dish is made up of mini beef meatballs atop chitarra pasta – Nino showed us a video of Tina making this pasta and it is named as such because it is pressed through what looks like strings of a guitar.

    Being a sweets person, I saved enough room for dessert – homemade gelato. To note is the Stracciatella, chocolate gelato with small bits of chocolate mixed throughout. There is also pistachio, no artificial green coloring here, a creamy off-white with bits of pistachio mixed throughout. Not to be left out are raspberry and strawberry sorbets, very light and refreshing…perfect for these super-hot summer days we have been having. I opted for peach; it was listed on the specials board, and served in a small blue bowl with a tiny green spatula. The gelato was a very light peachy color with bits of fresh peaches mixed throughout. The small cup is just enough for this treat. I was so full after my dinner that I could not finish it. It looks like a small amount, but looks can be deceiving for this rich, big-flavored dessert.

    Because Kirk is a weirdo who enjoys savory foods more than sweets (see, weird), he ordered the Crepe Soup as “dessert.” I had never heard of this before but it is a soup with a homemade chicken stock base with homemade crepes that are filled with parmiagiano, rolled and sliced. They are then placed in the broth and are meant to mimic a noodle; the soup is then topped with fresh parsley. The crepes are very tender and oozing with salty cheese that is perfect for the fresh broth.

    Every employee in Ceritano’s cares about the food and it shows because they are so passionate about it. It made me excited that they truly care about what people who come to eat there put in their bodies. Ceritano’s is open for dinner six days a week starting at 4:30 p.m. and is closed on Sundays. If you choose to skip the warm atmosphere of dining in, the menu is online at; call (540) 443-9135 and pick up an order “to-go.” You will not be disappointed!

  • Publisher's Note

    “An eye for an eye ends up making the whole world blind.”

    - Mahatma Gandhi


    “Freedom? you asking me about freedom? you asking me about freedom? I’ll be honest with you, I know a whole lot more, about what freedom isn’t that what it is.”

    - Assata Shakur

    Mr. Alton Sterling

    Mr. Philando Castile

    Officer Brent Thompson

    Officer Patrick Zamarripa

    Officer Michael Krol

    Officer Lorne Ahrens

    Officer Michael Smith

    Officer Montrell Jackson

    Officer Matthew Gerald

    Deputy Brad Garafola

    “The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral, begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it. … Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. … Returning violence for violence
    multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”

    — Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.




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