FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Poem Against Youth Curfews

by GUISELA RAMOS, DIANA BONILLA, DANIEL RAMOS and PABLO PAREDES

Tuesday November 12, 2013 the Oakland City Council’s Public Safety Committee discussed the potential implementation of a youth curfew that would criminalize anyone under 18 found in any public place, and even in businesses, inside the city of Oakland between 10pm and 6am. 

Dozens of young people, mostly Black and Latino teenagers, crowded the City Hall’s main chamber in opposition of the law. Oakland teens Guisela Ramos, Diana Bonilla, and Daniel Ramos, accompanied by Pablo Paredes, an organizer with the immigrants rights group 67 Sueños, addressed the city councilors with the following poem. Counterpunch has added links to the text where the authors refer to actual events.

I’m here today, to say

Curfews don’t reduce crime, they

Criminalize us, and our day to day

 

I’m here to shed a light on some inconvenient truth

About how our society treats youth

They won’t arrest my 40 year old pimp or the 30 year old john

But they will arrest me when my pimp is gone

White kids will puff pot in parks in the hills past ten, and it will all be chill

But if you’re brown and black on the flats, enforcement will have a different feel

They told me once the definition of insanity

Was to try the same thing over and over, expecting differently

 

Youth curfews don’t recognize our humanity

Haven’t worked and in fact they make us indifferent

Youth weren’t involved at any stage of the process

But we will suffer the losses

5 schools closed at one school board meeting for lack of funds

But we never experience a lack of sexy squad cars, or a lack of guns.

Police ride chargers through impoverished slums

They even “pimped” out a low rider for fun

 

Being detained for a curfew violation

Led to my deportation, and my family’s separation

Pardon my indignation, but this was never about safety, it was about the insecurity of a nation

They fly drones over borders, and place checkpoints on highways

Ghetto birds over gated communities around my way

Curefews, and Andy Lopez, only 13, bleeds in his own driveway

And you wonder why youth look at pigs sideways?

 

30 year olds are the ones who commit homicides

But to mess with their freedom is political suicide

So we focus on youth and our future dies, disenfranchised

Marginalized, criminalized, but Gallo wont even look me in the eyes

I wonder what he has to hide

Could it be, that he was me?

Profiled at age 13

In these same streets

And felt the fear, the anxiety that we breathe?

And the guilt of becoming what he

Tried to leave?

Is it making it too hard for him to see

That all we yearn to be, is free?

Are you feeling guilty?

Do you have nightmares of Andy’s death certificate signed in the same ink as this policy?

 

I couldn’t watch my mom get punched and kicked

Couldn’t sit through, or stomach my family’s shit

Couldn’t watch my mom get battered

Couldn’t listen to her cheek bones shatter

Couldn’t watch her bruised eyes grow fatter

But it was past ten and the fact that I didn’t feel safe in my own home didn’t matter

White people are allowed to feel safe

Black and brown folks have to scatter

When we talk public safety, we never mean the latter

 

I’m here today, to say

Curfews don’t reduce crime, they

Criminalize us and our day to day.

June 29, 2016
Diana Johnstone
European Unification Divides Europeans: How Forcing People Together Tears Them Apart
Andrew Smolski
To My Less-Evilism Haters: A Rejoinder to Halle and Chomsky
Jeffrey St. Clair
Noam Chomsky, John Halle and a Confederacy of Lampreys: a Note on Lesser Evil Voting
David Rosen
Birth-Control Wars: Two Centuries of Struggle
Sheldon Richman
Brexit: What Kind of Dependence Now?
Yves Engler
“Canadian” Corporate Capitalism
Lawrence Davidson
Return to the Gilded Age: Paul Ryan’s Deregulated Dystopia
Priti Gulati Cox
All That Glitters is Feardom: Whatever Happens, Don’t Blame Jill Stein
Franklin Lamb
About the Accusation that Syrian and Russian Troops are Looting Palmyra
Binoy Kampmark
Texas, Abortion and the US Supreme Court
Anhvinh Doanvo
Justice Thomas’s Abortion Dissent Tolerates Discrimination
Victor Grossman
Brexit Pro and Con: the View From Germany
Manuel E. Yepe
Brazil: the Southern Giant Will Have to Fight
Rivera Sun
The Nonviolent History of American Independence
Adjoa Agyeiwaa
Is Western Aid Destroying Nigeria’s Future?
Jesse Jackson
What Clinton Should Learn From Brexit
Mel Gurtov
Is Brexit the End of the World?
June 28, 2016
Jonathan Cook
The Neoliberal Prison: Brexit Hysteria and the Liberal Mind
Paul Street
Bernie, Bakken, and Electoral Delusion: Letting Rich Guys Ruin Iowa and the World
Anthony DiMaggio
Fatally Flawed: the Bi-Partisan Travesty of American Health Care Reform
Mike King
The “Free State of Jones” in Trump’s America: Freedom Beyond White Imagination
Antonis Vradis
Stop Shedding Tears for the EU Monster: Brexit, the View From the Peloponnese
Omar Kassem
The End of the Atlantic Project: Slamming the Brakes on the Neoliberal Order
Binoy Kampmark
Brexit and the Neoliberal Revolt Against Jeremy Corbyn
Doug Johnson Hatlem
Alabama Democratic Primary Proves New York Times’ Nate Cohn Wrong about Exit Polling
Ruth Hopkins
Save Bear Butte: Mecca of the Lakota
Celestino Gusmao
Time to End Impunity for Suharto’’s Crimes in Indonesia and Timor-Leste
Thomas Knapp
SCOTUS: Amply Serving Law Enforcement’s Interests versus Society’s
Manuel E. Yepe
Capitalism is the Opposite of Democracy
Winslow Myers
Up Against the Wall
Chris Ernesto
Bernie’s “Political Revolution” = Vote for Clinton and the Neocons
Stephanie Van Hook
The Time for Silence is Over
Ajamu Nangwaya
Toronto’s Bathhouse Raids: Racialized, Queer Solidarity and Police Violence
June 27, 2016
Robin Hahnel
Brexit: Establishment Freak Out
James Bradley
Omar’s Motive
Gregory Wilpert – Michael Hudson
How Western Military Interventions Shaped the Brexit Vote
Leonard Peltier
41 Years Since Jumping Bull (But 500 Years of Trauma)
Rev. William Alberts
Orlando: the Latest Victim of Radicalizing American Imperialism
Patrick Cockburn
Brexiteers Have Much in Common With Arab Spring Protesters
Franklin Lamb
How 100 Syrians, 200 Russians and 11 Dogs Out-Witted ISIS and Saved Palmyra
John Grant
Omar Mateen: The Answers are All Around Us
Dean Baker
In the Wake of Brexit Will the EU Finally Turn Away From Austerity?
Ralph Nader
The IRS and the Self-Minimization of Congressman Jason Chaffetz
Johan Galtung
Goodbye UK, Goodbye Great Britain: What Next?
Martha Pskowski
Detained in Dilley: Deportation and Asylum in Texas
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail