December 22

In 1984, Bernhard Goetz shot four young black men on the NYC subway in Manhattan. He fired five shots, seriously wounded all of them, Goetz surrendered to police nine days later and was charged with attempted murder, reckless endangerment, and firearms offenses. A jury found him not guilty of all charges except to carrying an unlicensed firearm for which he spent eight months in jail. The shooting sparked a national debate on race and crime and the legal limits of self-defense. Goetz became known as the “Subway Vigilante.”

 

Chico Mendes was assassinated in 1988 in Brazil. Mendes was a rubber tapper, trade union leader, and an environmentalist who fought to preserve the Amazon rainforest and advocated for human rights of Brazilian peasants. He helped to establish the Rubber Tappers Union in 1975 and they petitioned the Brazilian government to set aside parcels of land that would not be exploited by the rubber companies. Mendes won several awards for his environmental work. When a rancher bought land on a rubber reserve and wanted to deforest parts of it, Mendes and local rubber tappers set up roadblocks and tried to stop the cutting of the trees. The son of the rancher killed Mendes in his home. Mendes was the 19th rural activist to be killed in Brazil in 1988. His murder made international headlines and led to an outpouring of support for environmental movements around the world.

 

Richard Reid attempted to detonate explosives packed into the shoes he was wearing while an American Airline flight in 2001 from Paris to Miami. Now known as the “Shoe Bomber,” Reid converted to Islam as a young man while he was in prison. He had visited Pakistan and Afghanistan where he became “radicalized.” While onboard the flight, he tried to detonate the explosives, but was subdued by fellow passengers. The plane landed in Boston where Reid was arrested and indicted. He pleaded guilty to eight counts of terrorism and was sentenced to 3 life terms plus 110 years without parole and is now held in a super maximum-security prison in the United States.

 

Birthdays Today

 

1912Lady Bird Johnson, American wife of Lyndon B. Johnson, 38th First Lady of the United States (d. 2007)

1915Barbara Billingsley, American actress (d. 2010)

1917Gene Rayburn, American games show host and actor (d. 1999)

1945Diane Sawyer, American journalist

1962Ralph Fiennes, English actor and singer

Larry Moskal began his career as a Social Studies teacher in 1971. He graduated from the University of Buffalo with degrees in history and education. Larry taught Social Studies for the Ken-Ton School system, a suburban school system north of Buffalo, New York until 2005, and then taught and was the Dean of Students at San Miguel High School in Tucson. At Ken-Ton, he pioneered several online courses for high school students. In the 1980s, he spent three years teaching in Colombia, South America and spent four years at Lewiston-Porter High School. He currently is the PowerSchool Administrator for San Miguel accomplishing his work over the Internet.