NO on Proposition 21! NO to War on Youth!

The Third Eye Movement are youth organizing, among other things, against Proposition 21. They mobilized youth to challenge PG&E’s endorsement and financial contribution to the “Yes” on Prop 21 campaign. As a result, PG&E withdrew its endorsement!! We asked young women from Third Eye to comment on Prop 21 and its impact on girls. Below are excerpts from a couple of the responses.
Jasmin Barker: Although Prop 21 is not explicitly racist in its wording, race will play a central part in the implementation of the new law if it passes. Prop 21 will change the current definition of a gang … to three or more people with a likeness – name, dress, tattoos, etc. Defining a gang in this way will give police and prosecutors free reign without accountability. We already know who society thinks are gangs: Latinos, Latinas, Asians and African Americans – PEOPLE OF COLOR.
Prop 21 will affect girls in a special way. Girls who hang around young men who participate in criminal activity will find themselves facing the same charges for simply being there. I know many who are aware of criminal activity going on around them, but never directly participate. These will be at great risk because Prop 21 adds conspiracy to commit a crime to the list of offfenses of criminal “gang” activity. Therefore a girl could be labeled a gang member and be tried along with her partner without ever committing a crime. She will be tried, sentenced and incarcerated as if she planned, plotted and engaged in a crime. Also, Prop 21 will not allow pretrial release. This will affect young mothers because their children could be taken away while they await trial.
Samantha Liapes: Girls are not talked about in relationship to Prop 21 because politicians are playing off people’s fears and stereotypes of the gangbanger or super predator youth. This stereotype in the media and movies, music, etc. is almost always a young African American or Latino male. Politicians don’t want people to see the reality, the human beings that will suffer as a result of this initiative. They only present images that play on people’s stereotypes – and girls don’t fit this stereotype- though girls will certainly suffer with these new crimes and longer sentences.
The Third Eye Movement has mostly been targeting funders of Prop 21 to mobilize young people. The actions are designed to attract the media so that we can reach thousands of people about the dangers of Prop 21. It gives young people who can’t vote an opportunity to express their views and influence the ballot outcome. Our fight against Prop 21 has been overwhelmingly led by young women of color. These young women are role models for other girls and examples of the power and influence a young woman can have in determining the direction and spirit of a movement and creating change in her community.