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Sunday, July 10, 2011

San Francisco's Log Cabin and our Juveniles that WE have FAILED.


San Francisco has a population of about 816,000 and we do have youth all over San Francisco - but, for some strange reason every year for the last 15 years - something is not working to preserve our youth - both girls and boys. In the sense; that we assure them sound safety, standard facilities to study, safe haven, good opportunities, quality teachers, and most of all - LOVE.

We all have heard that thousands of straight families are leaving San Francisco.

I say straight; because I do not know much how many youth from queer families - two adult women who are QUEER bringing up children or two adult men who are QUEER bring up children - factor in the incarcerated youth - morass of sorts.

What I call normal families all over San Francisco find it difficult to rear children - right.

So - a point arises after spending years - some living and contributing to San Francisco on all levels for generations - a decision is made to leave San Francisco.

Such actions adversely impact - Quality of Life issues and there in no way to gauge the loss of such talent, contribution, and related factors.

When this happens - we loose a lot - we loose quality contribution - and really a piece of San Francisco's history is transferred to some suburb, some town, some city - mostly far away from San Francisco. Their gain and our LOSS.

As the Director of Environmental Justice Advocacy, having been a teacher, and working and having contacted practically all our high and middle schools in San Francisco. I have gauged for myself with experts that I trust and work - the many variables that help the youth and the many mundane factors; that lead youth - to get into trouble and ultimately be - incarcerated.

As many of you know, we do have a Juvenile System - that is run by my good friend Mr. William Sifferman and his assistant Allan Nance. Both of them hail from Chicago and were brought here by Mayor Gavin Newsom.

I was one of the first to meet Mr. Sifferman and so I proposed that with my confidant who knows a lot about turfs, about gangs, about the Black community, about the Polynesian community, about the Latino community, about the Asian community, about practically anything we got to know about gangs, about schools, about families, about sports, about anything that matters - linked to youth - to accompany me to the various Public Housing sites in San Francisco.

We balanced the tour by pointing out the residential areas and I gave some facts what I call empirical data to enlighten Mr. William Sifferman who is the Director of the Juvenile System in San Francisco.

I have kept in touch both with Mr. William Sifferman and Allen Nance - and I have supported these two men to do the right thing - on many occasions.

Our San Francisco Board of Supervisors - the one now sitting are far removed from what is really happening on the streets of San Francisco.

More so folks like Malia Cohen, Carmen Chu, Scott Wiener, Mark Farrell - and one of two more - borderline cases, all San Francisco Supervisors - that I call - fluff.

The man that accompanied me on that historic tour to enlighten our visitors from Chicago - who was soon to head the Community Response Network (CRN) - a proven coach - coaching the Mission High School, further coaching the Brown Bombers and more. His name is John Nauer.

John Nauer headed the CRN under the District Attorney's office - that of Kamala Harris and after some years - the program was reduced to size and the good work done - compromised. Go Figure!

I have other professionals who have been there, done that, and seen most everything you would want to see and experience. Some of you know them - that is if you live in San Francisco and have your senses in order. My two good friends Mitch Salazar and Rudy Corpus.

I have too many select friends that I consult from the Black community.

OGs going back to the fifties, right through the sixties, the seventies, the eighties, the nineties, to today.

I cannot name them all - because, these friends of mine are too many - from San Francisco but now live all over the Bay Area and beyond and still keep in touch with me.

The same is with the Chinese community and my track record in this area is well known to many.

Then you have the Native American Community and the historic Alcatraz event and related issues.

Historic events like the Riots that happened on Third Street with the Army complete with tanks and machine guns taking control of a situation that was over blown in the 1960s.

There are such incidents though not as famous and over blown in the Mission, the Western Addition, and in other places - all connected to adverse impacts and most of them linked with crime.

So, what has all the above to do with our youth?

Simply when the youth cannot find opportunity that are wholesome they join gangs.

Gangs protect one another - and some lives have been saved by such gathering - but, gangs with leadership and knowledge about what is right and what is wrong, misled by anger, target society for all the wrong reasons - can lead to violence, robberies, and other crimes that lead youth to be incarcerated.

None of this happens in a vacuum. Factor crack cocaine and single parents add a few other factors - and you have a time bomb - waiting to explode.

Youth must have some drama, some over blown stories, mostly gang related that the gang leaders project - to make their fiefdom, their gangdom, their turf - linked to history and what transpired before - in years past. The do this to keep the "fire" alive - for all the wrong reasons - but, few can tell them the TRUTH - because those targeting the "gangs" are ill equipped on most levels. You cannot tame anyone at the point of a gun!

As I said when I started this essay - San Francisco has a small population of about 816,000. With thousands of straight families leaving San Francisco.

As for gangs - we have none of them - compared to real gangs in Southern California. Anyone, will tell you that - but some folks like to perpetuate a false impression, tell lies, repeat lies, until lies become a - norm.

It is a joke when the San Francisco Gang Task Force finds it so difficult to handle the violence situation - in some of our neighborhoods. Some of us know the ineptness and have spoken about the situation at hand.

If you ask the San Francisco Gang Task Force - how deep are they when it comes to comprehending the cultures of the community at large? They just look at you as if you are crazy. One example is the Polynesian community - with the right leaders - we can talk to anyone and even the youth and those adults that can be brought to acknowledge sense - and do right. But, please do not push the button - as has been done again and again. I know what I speak of and have been before the San Francisco Police Commission and the Police Command to make my case.

Cultural mores coupled with being faithful to the OGs is so deep that those incarcerated for years behind the wall - not only know what is happening on the streets but call the shots.

The SF Police Department have all the resources to do their job - the simple menial resources.

It is a fact that most of these Officers - did not until recently have an email, had to access to computers that were old and antiquated, were out gunned by machine guns far more powerful than standard arms that the Officers carry - and to top it all - gangs have Teflon bullets.

The point I make is NOT to foster gang and their activities - but to delve and find out who is supplying these arms and the paraphernalia?

There are NO factories in the neighborhood that produce arm and accessories, large stores or even small ones that have access of these powerful arms. Who is supplying these arms and paraphernalia in plenty?

Youth fall prey as they are not educated on issues.

In fact the gangs members in their forties and fifties and even those in their twenties and thirties - really cannot connect the dots.

Many of them had to survive - they were given no opportunities by those pushing - "discrimination" and gentrification - speaking on one's face in one way - and shafting the populace - mostly in poorer neighborhoods - any which way they could.

We have this great place some 600 acres - some miles away from San Francisco, that we own - the Log Cabin Ranch that is really the focus of this piece.

Acres of pristine forests with deer roaming and other natural sights - anyone would die for - to soothe the soul and empower the being. The Log Cabin Ranch was set aside to bring young men and turn their lives around.

I have spoken to many youth that were incarcerated at the Log Cabin Ranch and they have spoken to me.

Perhaps; the best stories I have heard is from a group and some individuals that wrote some deep poems. I may be biased; as one who writes and loves poetry - but I did study the poems and found that at least for the soul, in the immediate time - some healing took place - with the youth.

However, they was a void - when it comes to how the youth were handled - and the mix signals sent to the youth - when they were at the Log Cabin Ranch.

It has been my privilege to visit some adult jails - Folsom, San Quentin others - there is a link between the adults incarcerated and those that were once young.

Of course those dealing with the youth and are in charge of Facility that Incarcerate - have no clue - how to connect the many facets that lead a youth to Adult Incarceration. The reason is simple the factors affecting the youth are rampant - the dynamics greater, the impact immediate and lasting - and these so called experts are way out left and out of the picture.

Everything is divided into compartments - and those managing the component of Youth Guidance and the many other names that they call their operations - are stuck with the old and mundane. Stuck in the much of no hope - and where there is no hope there is no vision, and where they is no vision - there is despair and destitution.

Restorative Justice is whispered in some circles - and the whimper dies as you ask questions and insist that this system works and must be implemented. Folks talk the talk more on this subject and less walk the walk.

The Grand Jury has spoken and it is left to the reader to challenge oneself and read the report for oneself. That report and the other may reports.

It speaks about most everything; some independent body can speak about - speaks about the Log Cabin Ranch and its woeful performance in the last 15 years - for sure:

Look at the top for the San Francisco Grand Jury Report and try to connect the dots.

Again and again in our neighborhoods - that once had many children and youth and were given opportunities - today, all they meet with is - disdain.

Summer jobs are at a premium and jobs per se non - not to be found. There is desperation on the streets of San Francisco and the streets in the Southeast Sector of San Francisco.

Community leaders pandering to Law Enforcement and not having the guts to include the youth in the deliberations. Praising themselves, old farts that have lost touch with the contemporary. Pandering to the inept Representative in District 10 - where shooting and killings are on the rise.

A community center in the Visitation to be closed by Recreation and Park and non one putting a fight to keep it - open.

We have REPRESENTATIVES who are fluff - and like to play to the Media and Spin.

We have one grinning jackass - falling in the trap - every single day - avoiding hard issues and grinning away - where she can come out Scott Free and then escape to her den and think she has done alright - when the opposite is true.

Read the report - and reflect - learn to connect the dots - and offer some meaningful opportunities to our youth - now.

Francisco Da Costa
Environmental Justice Advocacy