Boston Suits David Jones – Scarlett Lewis (com 90), with her son Jesse a few months before his death in the Sandy Hook school shooting, won a lawsuit against conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, who claimed the shooting was fake. Photo courtesy of Scarlett Lewis
Sandy Hook, mother of six-year-old Sandy Hook victim: ‘I forgive Alex Jones’ for claiming genocide was a hoax for Scarlett Lewis (com 90) for winning defamation lawsuit against conspiracy theorist
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After grieving the death of her six-year-old son in the 2012 Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut, Scarlett Lewis (COM’90) was put out of her misery by a conspiracy theorist who claimed she committed the entire massacre.
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Fake news websites and media systems that Lewis and other parents would pay for his comments, which he retracted seven years after the 2012 murder, blamed them on a “form of psychosis.”
Lewis and other Sandy Hook parents – some of whom received death threats after Jones’ lie – sued him for defamation after he called Sandy Hook a “giant hoax” by the actor. On Monday, November 15, after Jones refused to provide information about whether he benefited from talking about the massacre, a Connecticut judge held him liable for damages. (in Texas, where
Last month, the court also held Jones liable for failing to provide information to the suing parents, including Lewis.)
Lewis’ six-year-old son Jesse was among 20 first-graders and 6 teachers killed by gunman Alex Lanza, a former student at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. They ran for their lives. Lewis channeled his grief into an institution, the Jesse Lewis Choose Love Movement, to teach Social and Emotional Learning (SEL), which, I believe, might have prevented Lanza from committing the deadliest K-12 school shooting in US history. (Lanza, a loner with a sensory impairment and a mother who exposed him to guns, killed himself when first responders arrived on the scene.)
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The Connecticut and Texas rulings mean the courts will now decide how much Jones must pay the plaintiffs.
Today: Damages are for not providing important information to the plaintiff. However, do you see this as justification after Jones’ false claim that the attack was a hoax?
Scarlett Lewis: There’s a default judgment in all the cases right now in Connecticut, as well as in Texas. I hope it sends a strong message that you can’t spread lies, especially if it endangers the lives of those involved. School shootings are a real problem in the United States; often happens. You are either part of the solution or part of the problem. Alex Jones has been part of the problem, and certainly not working towards a solution to keep our children and teachers safe in school.
Today: I know that forgiveness is an important part of your SEL education; I mentioned forgiving Adam Lanza. Do you forgive Jones?
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I forgive Alex Jones. I made this choice to forgive, and continue the process of forgiveness, to regain my personal strength. However, forgiveness does not mean that you do not hold someone accountable for their actions. This is how we make positive change.
Today: What is the state of your SEL curriculum – are more schools continuing to adopt it or has the COVID-19 pandemic slowed down negotiations with schools?
The pandemic has increased the need and interest in our free software. During quarantine, we upgraded our programs to match the needs of teachers and their students and put more emphasis on mental health and coping skills. We added another section called “Choosing Love in Our Brave New World” for all grade levels to address trauma, help students self-regulate and prepare for learning. The year 2020, is at the peak of closing the pandemic. A few weeks ago, the family saw the writing on the wall and decided to cancel the event.
Mother Karen Eisenberg-Jones said, “I think the cancellation of the original London bar mitzvah hurt me more than it did! I was a little surprised. I was here just a few weeks before the party had to call all the guests and vendors to tell them we would postponed.”
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Photo by Joseph Aszel // David Jones, London Jones and Karen Eisenberg-Jones at The Temple for the September 12 concert in London.
The temple’s pastor invited London to contribute during a Shabbat service via Zoom the following Saturday, when he was joined by two others who had postponed their ceremonies. The Isenberg-Jones family takes refuge in a Blue Ridge cabin, as London reads his Torah portion via Zoom against a beautiful natural backdrop.
The family postponed their bar mitzvah in London to September 2020, believing the outbreak would be over by autumn. The virus had different plans and the mother’s family in London was unable to travel to Atlanta.
London’s grandparents had the idea of holding a party at their synagogue, Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, Illinois, near Chicago, to attend in person. Pastors from both synagogues work together to achieve this goal. London rehearses via Zoom with singer Temple Jeremiah. The family packed the car and drove to the Chicago area, where London became a pub mitzvah on September 7 in front of his grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins.
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Grandparents Susan and Sheldon Eisenberg hosted a luncheon in their backyard. “The true meaning of the mitzvah: When my daughter, son-in-law and grandson go to Glenview on Labor Day so that my husband (83) and I (75) can come ourselves,” Susan Isenberg said. “It was a day we will remember forever, and we thank God for this blessing.”
Karen Jones said, “It was very special for us to celebrate with my parents and siblings. London kindly accepted the invitation to bima twice. It was a wonderful gift for my family.”
Finally, London became a temple bar mitzvah on September 12 with Rabbi Lorraine Lapidus and Cantor Deborah Hartmann. Rabbi Stephen Rao also held a private address for London with 30 people on campus, followed by a lunch at home. London’s grandmother, Patricia Jones and her aunt drove from Florida. Uncle London flew in from Boston. The three of them read during the ceremony.
Photo by Joseph Axel // Jason Jones, Karen Eisenberg-Jones, London Jones, Brennen Jones, David Jones, Patricia Jones and Carol Larson outside the temple.
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London played lacrosse, basketball and tennis and rode his bicycle on the Atlanta Belt Line to school, David T. Howard Middle School in the Old Fourth Ward. The mitzvah project has provided food for the Zanzibar Heaven Center, bought and packed 120 lunches for a homeless shelter, and coordinated “gathering” sessions with family and friends.
Dovar Torah focused on his rituals from Leviticus, studying sacrifices and relating them to current events stating: “People may not kill animals or burn food, but we make sacrifices every day. My friends and I do not have to sacrifice the big things that people do on that time, and I’m grateful to him. We might give time or money to help a cause or study for a test instead of hanging out with friends. These are some of the sacrifices we’re all making, along with social distancing during COVID.”
Father David Jones reflected, “The London trip of a pub mitzvah parallels a tragic epidemic around the world. It provides a poignant lesson about what it means to be an adult. Learn patience, perseverance and charity.”
Wife Karen sums up, “The Temple made our postponed ceremony safe, special and stress-free. The family participated in the ceremony live via Zoom from all over the country. Our 30 guests really felt the emotional connection that day. There was no the dryness in the room when David and I gave our speeches. in London”.
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Although the family was limited to 40 people at the party, the family hosted a lunch afterwards at their home for some London friends.
Temple teacher Jacqueline Morris offered, “London started late in our program, and I’m amazed that she works so hard and dedicates so many hours to studying Hebrew to catch up. She’s an amazing student, and is always at the top of her game. She’s frustrated with original cancellation but face it maturely”.
In a fun conclusion, London celebrated their last Memorial Day weekend with a dance party, along with their eighth grade graduation at Knock Music House. Famous customers including Eleanor Roosevelt, Mamie Eisenhower, Jacqueline Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Jackson, as well as Regans, Bales, and Bloomingdales, died on September 17 in Los Angeles. He is 78 years old.
Mr. Jones is perhaps best known as the floral designer for Taylor’s 1991 wedding, her eighth, to truck driver Larry Lee Fortensky, which took place at the heavily guarded Neverland estate in Jackson. And Jackson’s funeral was just as special in 2009.
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In the media frenzy that covered both events, Mr. Jones declined numerous requests to reveal details about his creations, although both events, he said, featured white flowers in abundance.
She began her career in New York in the 1950s as an assistant to Judith Sharash Wicker, a prominent floral designer on the Upper East Side.