By Marlene Sanchez,
Center for Young Women’s Development
My name is Marlene Sanchez. I am a 20-year-old Latina from the Mission
district in San Francisco. I currently serve as the Center for Young
Women’s Development’s Program Director for the Girls in Charge Project
(GIC) that provides political education to young women in juvenile hall
and on the streets of the Mission, Tenderloin, and Western Addition
neighborhoods in San Francisco.
got involved with the Center for Young Women's Development when I was
15 years old as an outreach worker. In that job, I was able to go back
into my community to provide education to other young women like myself.
I started to take a closer look at the issues that were affecting my
community and me and learning about the root causes of the problems.
As I learned more, I started to get angry and began to realize that
I had the power to fight for change in my community and the only way
I was going to do that was through organizing.
During that time, I had been constantly harassed by the police and
had experienced a lot of police brutality because of the neighborhood
I was from and because I was poor. I had begun to normalize all that
was happening to me and thought that I deserved to be treated this way
and that there was no way to stop the cycle of violence that I was experiencing.
One day I was walking down the street in the Mission district and I
was stopped by the police. They told me put my hands up against the
wall so that they could search me. I started to get smart with them
and told them that I knew my rights and they could not do this to me
for no reason. I was taken in to custody and put in a holding cell at
Valencia Street police station. Soon I heard the key coming toward the
door. "Good. I am leaving,” I thought; but the officer automatically
accused me of writing on the wall with my makeup. This was not true
because of the fact that I was still in handcuffs. I was told to clean
the wall with my shirt, and when I refused, I was beat up, and then
I was so mad, and I knew something had to be done, so my co-workers
and I organized a protest at Mission Station. We did outreach in the
Mission so that the community there would come and support us on this
issue. We educated folks about what was happening with the police and
emphasized the fact that police brutality and abuse was happening every
day and that it could happen to your loved ones next if we did not come
together united to stop it.
There is a great need for us as young people of color and as poor people
to come together and organize our selves and our communities. So that
we can build a strong youth movement.
© 2000 by Individual Authors