From The Editor Marvin J. Ramirez
Back in the early 90s, San Francisco experienced a dramatic wave of juvenile crime, when thousands of Central Americans were forced to leave their homelands, fleeing their countries’ violent wars.
Many of these families who feared for their lives had to migrate abroad in search of a better life, while others were common war criminals who found the U.S. the perfect terrain to advance their criminal careers. It was a time when many of the major and well-known gang groups were born.
Despite of a sharp reduction in recent years of what parts of the Mission became, namely war zones, the culture of violence among young people still exists, although a bit more hidden.
The victims now are innocent people of all ages who might have nothing to do with any type of gang-related crime.
Dennis Mendoza and Marvin Berroterán, two long-time friends, were almost beaten to death last Feb. 17 (see article in the front page), in front of one of the victims home. One of these two friends is expected to die as this edition goes to press, and the other is in a coma.
A call of alert should be made to the Mayor of San Francisco, the Chief of Police and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, to declare the Mission District a zone requiring special attention.
Too many crimes in the Mission District have gone unreported, because most of the area where these crimes occur, the population is Spanish-speaking, and only a minimum number of violent crimes are reported, with the exception to when a murder occurs.
No meetings have taken place between the police in charge of certain neighborhoods with high crime and the community to create a plan of action. These populations feel imprisoned in their own blocks, due to intimidation from young criminals who reign like kings with their heads drug-intoxicated, and without direction in their lives.
According to the U.S. Justice Fund, in recent years, a host of juvenile justice issues have been in the forefront of public debate and policy discussion in the United States, such as racial disparities in the justice system, prosecution of youths in an adult criminal court, and incarceration of young people in jails and prisons. Among these also are the effectiveness of prevention and treatment programs.
But what good will such policy discussions do, if there aren’t any real meetings between those who hold the power of law enforcement and those populations who are potential victims? These meetings need to happen in order to find a practical and effective solution to the lack of direction of our youth.
The intention of providing the latest innovation of police foot-patrol in the neighborhoods is a great idea.
However, without a coordinated monitoring of hot areas from a central station, on a daily basis, crimes such as the one committed against these two older men, who had no criminal associations and were law-abiding citizens, will continue to leave pain in families and possibly no prosecution of the offenders and justice for the victims and families.
It hurts, as a journalist, to have to cover these types of stories, but if I don’t, there won’t be awareness with the authorities in charge, to create budgets for crime prevention, and better education for our youth.