Saturday, September 13, 2008

Just a Kiss Away

In the absence of clear leadership from the City, Excelsior District residents and students are taking to the streets to demand peace and justice for our youth and families.

Three years ago, the Marquez family lost their son and brother, Brian Marquez, murdered at 24th and Alabama in the Mission. Since that time they have been struggling day in and day out an uphill battle to bring the murderer to justice. Last week, the Marquez family unveiled billboard announcing the witness reward of $250,000 for evidence that could lead to the capture of the murderer. While the he is still at large, the billboard represents a triumph and a milestone in their painful journey for peace.

Similarly, June Jordan School for Equity students and their many allies across the city marched on City Hall to demand leadership to end the senseless violence that is plaguing our streets of the Excelsior, Lakeview, Bayview and Mission neighborhoods. Their stand on City Hall was one of the most positive releases of outrage that I have ever witnessed. They sang, drummed and honored the life of a remarkable youth named Joshua Cameron who was senselessly gunned down last week.

On the steps, Joshua's mother and sister called for a revolution in our hearts and unity in our communities. Student leaders demanded accountability and action from City Hall. One by one, they called elected officials to come before the podium to answer the simple question: "What will you do in the next three months to end the violence?"

Rather than pay lip service to the problem or take the SF Chronicle path of scapegoating our immigrant families and youth, the City needs to work hand in hand with our communities' family and youth leaders to create the peace we all yearn for.

Next Saturday, September 20th at 10am at Monroe Elementary School (corner of Excelsior and Madrid, entrance on Madrid), Excelsior District residents will be hosting a community forum to call for solutions to the violence . I'm hoping the forum will lead to more gathering and planning across our community and will foster the kind of leadership that will bring the change we need.