It was a nice sunny but very windy day when a group of young middle school girls and boys decided to visit Hunters Point - March 16, 2002. Their mission was to find out first hand the environmental injustice meted out to the residents of Hunters Point - they had heard a lot about the Naval Shipyard and all the toxics. They had also heard about the brutality by the San Francisco Police committed on four young children ages 12-14 years on January 21, 2002 - Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.
There is much talk in many circles today about environmental injustice. Perhaps for the first time many of us Americans are fully realizing that in order to live in harmony - we ought to be not only at peace with ourselves but with the environment we all choose to live in.
The San Francisco Conservation Corps (SFCC) has been doing very good work. Many children as well as adults have profited from SFCC. The youth who visited Hunters Point are all from Middle School and I was very much impressed by their behavior and talents. The SFCC offers two main programs to the youth - the Media Section and the Conservation Section. If you are interested visit their web site: www.yiamedia.org or telephone (415) 920-7171.
The programs are great fun, exciting, drug free, and gang free. What is more you get paid but you need to call and find out more. The programs accommodate middle school and high school youth. There are other programs for adults too.
To set the tone before our project began, we decided to invite Espanola Jackson a long time resident and activist to address all of us. As a mother and grandmother of 21 grandchildren most of them living in District 10 she was able to relate to the issues facing most residents today. " This is not a bad neighborhood as it has been made out to be. You see people today and most of them want to live in harmony". Espanola Jackson once lived not very far from Kiska Road where the police brutality took place. She raised her children at Hunters Point.
Espanola was instrumental in spearing the Welfare Rights for single women. She then went to work, went to school and through sheer determination bought a home in Bayview and raised all her six children all of them doing well today.
She spoke about the Muwekma Ohlone the first people of the Bay Area. She welcome the youth on behalf of the Muwekma Tribe who lived all over the Bay Area including Hunters Point for over 10,000 years. As is witnessed by the Shellmounds - which are Sacred Burial Sites found at Hunters Point Shipyard all over District 10 and beyond.
The youth then had the opportunity to film and ask Espanola Jackson questions - this was part of their project. We then were fortunate to run into Tenisha Bishop one of the mothers whose child was a victim of the famous police brutality. Tenisha rallied Sue McAllister, her daughter and Inell Manuel and her daughter. They were all going to be part of this media project. The children did an excellent job asking questions - filming - A+ to all in the group.
Tenisha told the youth about the Environmental Injustice meted out to all the residents of Hunters Point. " We have million dollar view here but we are faced with forces who want us out of here". "We are PO - poor she said but we are family" She was kind to offer to check out the view from her home. Offered all of us some cool - Kool-aid! A classy woman, a nice heart and what hospitality!
When the great fire took place a couple of years ago, residents were not informed and evacuated on time. Adults and children suffered from asthma attacks. Today, men and women have fallen prey to cancer. Hunters Point has the highest amount of breast cancer so does Bayview. Other chronic diseases that the Navy and the City and County of San Francisco does not want to take responsibility for.
Sue McAllister spoke about the atrocities committed by law enforcement. She stated very eloquently that she and others like her were determined to take control of their own destiny and make Hunters Point a great place to live for their children and adults too.
Inell and Tenisha compliment one another these brave mothers have shown San Francisco what sheer determination can do. Aided by PoliceWatch and some activists from Bayview - the world now knows that the injustice that the children suffered at the hands of the police was not called for.
We then visited a site where we could get a bird's-eye view of Hunters Point. I explained to the children that they were our future leaders and that they should see that innocent people do not suffer. That Adults and children should be treated fairly as children of God by the everyone including the police and greedy corporations.
As youth they had the responsibility to fight for environmental causes all over San Francisco and beyond. The citizens of San Francisco voted on proposition P and it won by an over whelming vote. This proposition the "conscience" of the voters should be adhered to.
Proposition P stated very clearly that all of Hunters Point should be cleaned up. Right now there is a " time bomb" waiting to explode at Hunters Point. There is a raging fire under ground that has been covered by some little dirt - it is spreading side ways - and it is emitting fumes and gases that adversely impact the health of the citizens who live in Bayview and Hunters Point. More so the residents of Hunters Point who live a few feet away.
Feel free to visit the Hunters Point web site it has a lot of information: www.efdsw.navfac.navy.mil/Environmental/HuntersPoint.htm.
Call Keith Forman from the Navy at (415) 515-6216 for answers to your pertinent questions.
There has been a lot of Environmental Injustice meted out to the residents of Bayview Hunters Point. In the last elections about 21,000 of us could and should have sent the right signals and elected candidates who care and work hard for the people of Bayview Hunters Point. The fact is only 2,100 went to the polls. Any one will tell you - we can do better. As long as we do not vote we have NO right to complain.
We all remember Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and all the Civil Rights leaders before and after him. They fought and died, spilled their blood that we may be free. They fought so that we should see progress and move forward. Sadly, today we are moving back wards, we are not exercising our RIGHT to vote. Time we examine our conscience, time we assure ourselves as long as we are free we will vote for the right candidates. Time we make the changes that benefit the community.
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