San Francisco — While African Americans make up about 65 percent of the population at San Francisco Juvenile Hall, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors is set today to cast a second and final vote on a hastily-crafted plan to close the jail facility by 2021 without having once met with representatives of the city’s African American community.
Rev. Amos Brown, president of the NAACP San Francisco branch and pastor at Third Baptist Church of San Francisco, called upon the Board to delay the vote so that the legislation’s sponsors can do the right thing and meet with their constituents who are most impacted by this significant decision.
SF Board of Supervisors Ignoring Black Community
The way that this plan has rolled out harkens back to the days of the Deep South, where decisions were made for disenfranchised black Americans, not by our people. The legislation’s sponsors have refused to meet with the NAACP, community and faith leaders, or even with juvenile justice experts such as the facility’s Chief Probation Officer Allen Nance.
Perhaps the SF Board Of Supervisors doesn’t want to hear what we have to say on this issue affecting our people. They’ve chosen to ignore vulnerable constituents, a shameful form of modern-day oppression, and lack of transparency. To this day, key questions about the legislation have not been addressed:
Without Juvenile Hall, is there qualified staff and space in the city to handle youth whose issues cannot be resolved at home or in the community?
· Will families be forced to travel far distances to visit children who judges deem necessary to incarcerate?
· How can we be certain this will not result in an overall reduction in funding and services for these young people?
These concerns are not trivial. And we’re perplexed and disturbed as to why the city’s leaders are refusing to sit down for a conversation about this issue before making such an impactful decision.
We call on the Board not to be oppressive leaders, but to respect our humanity; to have a moral compass that aims for transparency and inclusion, particularly in decisions directly affecting vulnerable constituents and their families. This should be a Democratic process. A hastily done legislation with no representation from labor, civil rights, and faith community leadership is the exact opposite of that. And that leaves us the question, Why? What are they hiding?