Ellen Liberman

Labor Pains

The first time Juan Garcia crossed the U.S. border he was on foot, through the Rio Grande, across the Texas desert. He lost his food and water and was caught by the border patrol. The second time, Garcia crossed over in the trunk of a Buick with $150 in his pocket. He lost start-up capital after his traveling companion left…

School Daze

The night was cold and the meeting had entered its third hour, but the parents of Hope High School would not be denied their say. The city is proposing to spend $972 million to rebuild, refurbish or retire thirty-nine school facilities, and whatever oxygen was left after a two-hour PowerPoint presentation on the plan was taken up by the fear…

Charging into Battle

Every morning, Rob McMahon arrives at his North Kingstown office, doffs his jacket and dons his lead overcoat. McMahon is an eleven-year veteran of the Department of Children, Youth and Families, and the lead overcoat is his term for the futility that has come to define his job in the Family Services Unit. Each month, McMahon’s first priority is to…

Minority Report

On a winter afternoon in 1982, Michael Evora was a gangly, bespectacled seventeen-year-old walking through Fairlawn with a trash bag full of fabric scraps and cardboard slung over his shoulder. A Pawtucket police cruiser pulled up beside him. The officer rolled down the window. What are you doing here? Where are you going? What’s in the bag? The questions puzzled…

Up in Smoke?

For the last few years, one of the most popular videos among Native Americans has been a brief tape that typifies the modern struggle to assert tribal sovereignty. What the grainy TV images of the 2003 raid on the Narragansett Indian Smoke Shop lack in artistry, they make up for in authenticity. Police dogs, handcuffs, the literal weight of state…

A Matter of Degrees

Last year, Kim Stafford, a pharmacist from Wakefield, took a second job. She knew that seeing her eldest off to college would be an emotional wrench, but she wasn’t prepared for the all-consuming task that choosing a college turned out to be. Her daughter, Amanda, an honor student and a competitive swimmer, toured fifteen campuses from Massachusetts to Virginia. “I…