Civics Lessons


Benjamin Traslavina, a 16-year-old high school student, got an important lesson in politics and criminal justice at the Republican National Convention. Traslavina, vice president of his school's Honor Society, was selected to attend the convention by the Junior Statesmen Foundation, a group that tries to interest students in government. He was there when AIDS protestors tried to disrupt a speech by White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card. Traslavina stood up to get a photograph of the protest for his high school newspaper, which he edits. That's when Secret Service grabbed him. They turned him over to New York City police, despite the protestors telling them he wasn't part of their group and despite his credentials, which were seized along with his camera. He was handcuffed and his film thrown away. Traslavina was hauled off to jail. For the next 12 hours his family tried to find him. Police didn't let him make a call until after midnight. He was arraigned on a felony charge of inciting a riot and misdemeanor charges of assault and disorderly conduct and released the next afternoon. No word on what this did to his interest in government.