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Power of the Youth Don't Stop

by Manuel Morales |
May 20, 2000
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Oakland, CA - "The Power of the youth, don't stop, don't stop," chanted hundreds of students at the statewide youth conference held at Oakland's Freemont High School, May 6. The youth set the path for change in a state known for its repressive laws against young people and people of color.

Some topics of discussion included the criminal injustice system, education rights, and environmental issues. Youth attended workshops and planning sessions throughout the day.

The sentiment of the conference was best expressed by one of the student speakers, Ms. Simons, who stated, "You cannot fix prison, you cannot fix a juvenile hall institution. The only thing we can begin to do is to tear it down, screw by screw. Revolution!" Youth like Ms. Simons were eager and ready to plan a way to justice for their communities.

Youth in the state of California are under attack. With the backing of Democratic Governor Gray, the state recently passed Proposition 21. Prop 21 is intended to make it easier to punish youth as adults, and contains a host of measures that criminalize young people of color.

Some of the youth groups present at the conference included Third Eye Movement, Ollin, Youth Organizing Communities, New Raza Left, and Youth Force.

The conference agreed to continue the effort to create a statewide youth coalition. The first joint action by the statewide group is to protest at the Democratic National Convention, August 13, in Los Angeles. California's schools are a mess. Politicians want to build more jails for youth. The coalition will place demands on the Democratic Party for educational justice.