Ouch! That hurts, doesn’t it? Paper Cuts are our short, erratic and slightly painful updates on current, local and national events. See our website for more Paper Cuts at thefineprintmag.org.


ADMISSION OF GUILT

IN EPISODE FOUR, season three of “Desperate Housewives,” mother of four Lynette Scavo, played by Felicity Huffman, just wants her son to do better at little league baseball. So she slips a $50 bill to the other team’s pitcher with the agreement he’ll throw a slow ball slow next time her son is up to bat.

It’s only after her son has hit his first ball that the coach notices the money in the pitcher’s pocket. When confronted, the
pitcher points straight to Lynette.

On April 8, prosecutors announced that Huffman, along with 12 other parents, would plead guilty to cheating and bribing their kids into the nation’s top universities.

Among the most *salacious findings of the FBI investigation – nicknamed “Operation Varsity Blues” – were pictures of kids photoshopped to look like water polo stars and a 36-year-old former tennis player who was paid to take the SAT. The parents face
up to 20 years in prison.

Yet, even as this investigation put the college admissions process under the microscope, wealthy members of society continue to benefit from a more socially acceptable form of bribery. The irony is Huffman and the other parents could have avoided legal consequences — and still gotten their children into top schools like the University of California and the University of Texas at Austin — if they had just taken the usual route.

Prestigious universities have a history of favoring students whose parents make donations or pitching in for campus buildings. In October 2018, John Hughes, a lawyer for students for fair admissions, released a series of emails between admissions officers and administration officials at Harvard that referenced the “Dean’s Interest List” of prospective students. There was a strong overlap between that list and the list of top donors.

“I am simply thrilled about the folks you were able to admit,” David Ellwood, the former Dean of the Harvard Kennedy school, wrote in an email. “[Redacted] and [redacted] are all big wins. [Redacted] has already committed to a building.”

Some may say that you can’t put a price on the value of an education. But it turns out you can – if your pockets are deep enough.

By Brianna Moye.


#BLACKLIVESMATTER

A NUMBER OF local activists connected to Black Lives Matter have died in disturbing ways, since the death of Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager who was shot by white police officer Darren Wilson, ignited protests in Ferguson, Missouri in 2014.

In November 2014, DeAndre Joshua, 20, was found dead in a torched car blocks from the protest. Two years later, Darren Seals, 29, was found in almost identical condition.

Police in St. Louis County vowed to look into whether there is a link between the two deaths, but they still haven’t identified a suspect. In 2017, Edward Crawford, 27 — who had been photographed throwing a tear gas canister that had been fired at protesters — was found shot to death in the back of a car.

Police ruled Crawford’s death a suicide, drawing skepticism from the black community. According to a 2017 article by Jason Johnson, the politics editor at The Root, two women were sitting in the front of the car at the time of his death. “Why would Crawford, a father
of four who, according to his family, appeared to be in high spirits after getting a new job, just kill himself in his car,” Johnson asked.

Then a year later, Danye Jones, 24, was found hanging by a sheet on a tree in his mother’s backyard. Police again ruled his death a suicide, even though his family members noted that Jones would not have been able to make the knots required to tie the sheets and, furthermore, they didn’t even recognize the sheets. “They lynched my baby,” Jones’s mother wrote in a Facebook post.

Police say they have no evidence linking white supremacists to these deaths, which some experts in turn contend are simply the result of the harsh living reality for people of color. But local activists call B.S., pointing out that there is a long history of police labeling black death as suicide “so as not to tug too hard on the strings of violent white supremacy that hold communities together.”

“Something is happening,” said Cori Bush, a frequent leader of the Ferguson protests whose car has been run off the road, home has been vandalized and in 2014 someone shot a bullet into her car, narrowly missing her daughter, who was 13 at the time. Living under constant threat is exhausting, she said, but she won’t give in. “They shut us up and they win,” Bush said.

By Elizabeth Townsend.