- The Washington Times - Saturday, April 29, 2000

Noble: Alison Brown, elementary school student, who raised $3,000 to help a survivor of the Columbine tragedy.

After the Columbine tragedy last year, President Clinton sought a way for the families of each person who died to get $100,000 to pay for counseling, among other things. Clearly the federal government should not have been involved in such pay-outs. These matters should be left to private, compassionate individuals. One such individual has recently come to the forefront: 11-year-old Alison Brown. She organized 50 people in a jump-rope-a-thon and raised $3,000 to help a survivor of that tragedy for that she is The Washington Times noble of the week.

Young Miss Brown presented the check to Valeen Schnurr last summer and was recently named one of two Colorado youths to win the Prudential Spirit of Community Award. Miss Brown will be given $1,000, a silver medallion and an all-expenses paid trip to Washington next month. Once here, she will attend an award ceremony where 10 top volunteers will be selected from around the nation.

After the shooting, Alison was afraid to go back to Walt Whitman Elementary school, which is only a few miles from the ill-fated high school in Littleton. But by summer vacation she was wondering what she could do to help the survivors, according to the Denver Rocky Mountain News.

Alison organized a fund-raiser with her mother, Betty Brown. She publicized it by talking to local reporters and writing letters to friends and neighbors. She settled on jumping rope because it was something she and many of her elementary school friends could do. In the end, young Miss Brown revealed the power of compassion is as big as one's heart.

* Knave: Attorney General Janet Reno, for giving the rule of law a bad name.

Although Miss Reno wasn't on the scene, as attorney general she is responsible for orchestrating the pre-dawn raid to nab little Elian Gonzalez. That raid undermined the rule of law in several important ways. First, it went against the spirit of the federal court order requiring Elian to stay in the United States until his asylum request can be heard. Any doubt on this point should have evaporated when federal Judge J.L. Edmondson issued a court order on Tuesday requiring Miss Reno and the Justice Department to protect against Elian being shuffled off to Cuba. That order was meant to remind the attorney general that Elian is not to be allowed into the offices or homes of Cuban officials where he would be out of the jurisdiction of federal officials and that her compliance with this order is required, not requested.

Secondly, the surprise raid destroyed trust in law-enforcement. Miami Mayor Joe Carollo has already fired his police chief for not telling him of the impending raid, as well as his city manager, as reported in The Washington Times. Executing a raid in the midst of such an emotional case is always difficult. The officers had too many variables to contend with and therefore it is not surprising they took every precaution to arm themselves even though their preparedness seems excessive. The fact is, Elian was not being harmed in the Gonzalez home and Miss Reno should not have ordered the raid.

Thirdly, the search warrant that allowed federal officials to charge in was harmful to the rule of law. Proper law-enforcement is based on fact-finding and truthful statements from law-enforcement agents the warrant was an example of neither. As recounted in the Wall Street Journal, the Justice Department waited until after close of business on Good Friday to find a judge not familiar with the case to issue the warrant. The warrant issued was one designed to search and then seize contraband. The warrant also did not explain that the authorities were concerned with a possible armed confrontation.

Finally, Miss Reno undermined the rule of law in the Elian case by claiming she had nothing to apologize for in the raid. Her agents tear-gassed another young boy in the house, beat up an NBC camera crew, and the raid itself earned compliments from Cuban dictator Fidel Castro. Mr. Castro's only criticism was that such a raid in Cuba would not include armed officers, because Cubans are not allowed to have guns. It is hard to imagine how Miss Reno could have conducted a more repugnant raid. Nor how she could be more of a knave.

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