ON THE FRONTLINES: VIOLENCE, GANGS & TURFS
San Francisco they say is the City that knows how and indeed it may be on many fronts. I attended the On the Frontlines: Violence, Gangs, & Turfs all day conference at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium today April 1, 2004.
They were in my opinion over 350 people from all walks of life who wanted to be educated. All Islanders Gathering As One was well represented by Daniel Agematu and John Nauer who were on various panels. Lots of youth and that was the best thing happening.
Girls Gangs & Turfs, Street Law and Legal Issues, Street Gangs, Barrio Warfare: Latino Gangs, Sets, Turfs & Cliques: African American Gangs, Stop the Hating, Code of Silence: Asian Pacific Islander Gangs, Where the Kids Are: School Based Programs, Navigating the System, The Road to Lockdown: Inside the Juvenile Justice System, My Block: Music, Rap, and Hip Hop - and many more workshops gave the youth gathered and the Public at Large an opportunity to be educated.
San Francisco has one of the best youth guidance systems in place with numerous Community Based Organizations who do good work. Of course there are those who do harm by pocketing the money and not serving the youth but we shall focus on the positive for now.
Florencia Garcia could have easily addressed the United Nations and got a tumultuous applause. She touched all the elements and went beyond challenging everyone present about how one is initiated into gangs. When there are NO opportunities and all one sees is drugs, violence, prostitution, murder, crime - when they is no safe haven - most young people can only find solace in a gang that protects them.
She was bold enough to take us places where Society has not addressed the issues that affect youth most. Society is easily prone to put down the young who cannot defend themselves. Listening to Antone Aroche, Daniel, Florencia, Lauren Stafford, Lorenco Bell, and Xiomara Galvan was refreshing. Society is quick to put down gangs and not all that goes on in gangs is morally right according to the Roman Law that Whites mostly understand and enforce. There is no real justice though and often times when Law Enforcement and the Justice System treat our youth like dirt - gangs will take root and society will lose because society was not there for the youth in the first place.
The workshops were great. I have named some of them above. When cannot all of them. I did two and had the opportunity to attend four last year on some of the same topics. Good stuff that goes straight to the heart. One can learn a lot but should it stop at that.
Our youth are being detained and treated like chattel in our so-called City Youth Guidance Systems. Again and again I was paying attention and again and again I saw the cracks in the system. In some of the systems male guards watch over young women and abuse them, drugs are available when none should be present. Most importantly those who should be working for the youth and helping them do not.
If it were not for Jeff Adachi and a few others we would not be able to come to the defense of our youth. Our youth are detained both young women and men and no one visits them. Why should any girl or boy be detained and jailed like a wild animal in a zoo.
Too many young men and women have confided in me and what they have told me is not pretty. None of you elders, adults, Law Enforcement, Politicians, Mayors would like your sons and daughters to be treated badly when incarcerated. None of you would feel good if you were told your young son or daughter was raped. Treat like chattel. Now paint this picture and go and see for yourself what I have with my own eyes.
A conference such as I just attended focuses on the tip of the iceberg. A conference has limited time unless you have one for a month or week, which no one has the time to attend and the time to spare. Again and again the abuses of Society and the negligence of family were the prime causes that sent our young girls and boys to jail and into the arms of pimps, gangs, and thugs who use the innocent and those they can prey upon.
In my life I have tacked crooks and thugs and even gangs. I know what it takes to bring down those who think they are organized. Pimps. Gang Leaders and so-called thugs always think they are powerful when they are armed and surrounded by those who will do there bidding. Take them one on one and you can kick their ass. I have done it and know what I speak about.
Right now thousands of young girls all over the Bay Area are put to work by Pimps. In fact it has become fashionable for some misguided young girls to work for Pimps. It has become fashionable to call some one Pimp Daddy and one has just to pay attention to the various rap songs and other songs and hear the word "pimp" treated as one would royalty.
Our Society is so screwed up that we have lost our sense of priorities and sound judgment. We have to learn to sit down and listen to our youth. We have to learn to hug them and give them some credit for in each one of us God has blessed us with some talent. We cannot continually put down our youth and expect the youth to do well in school, at home, and be good citizens.
To the Mayor of San Francisco I say stop-playing games - time to work with Jeff Adachi and focus on our youth. I know the majority of the Supervisors will back the youth. The youth are our future leaders. At the conference we saw our present leaders. One of them was Sidney Chapman Andersan from the Bayview and 4.0 student. What he said made many sad. He father was a drug dealer and was killed. And then his two cousins were shot. To make matters worse his sister was shot in the projects. Yet, this young man walks tall, speaks his mind and his brain is sharp. He wants to save lives and he willing to walk the walk.
Kudos to the organizers to my good friend Ruddy and John who have done it again the second year and with great success. I looked forward to joining you all next year and taking this conference on Youth, Violence, Gangs, Crime, and Turf to the next higher level.
San Francisco we can stop crime and save our youth as one big family.