From the September-October 2019 issue of News & Letters
San Francisco—Not long ago in early June, I was waiting for a train in the 24th Street BART station when a very young man approached me and asked me for a donation to “Playaz….” or something like that. I was tired and in a hurry, and told him that I want to know more about it and so I’ll catch him later when I have a moment.
He looked at me calmly, and put up his fist and we exchanged a fist-bump. I was so impressed that I talked about him with my friends. Then, on July 8, just after midnight, there was the sound of sirens and we learned that someone had been shot at 24th and Capp Streets, not 200 yards from the station. When the Wednesday paper came out, I saw the young man’s face on the front page. He was Day’von Hann, 15 years old, who was part of United Playaz, a youth anti-violence group.
San Francisco is a very dangerous place for young people, especially minority youth, and is one of the most segregated cities I know of. There has been an epidemic of police murders of Black and Latino youth since 2008. Conditions got worse under the brutal, money-fueled administration of Jerry Brown, Kamala Harris and State Senator Scott Wiener. San Francisco’s white liberals need to awaken and look around at what is really going on.
Rather than talking about real problems, we are bombarded with nonsense about “urban planning,” “algorithms” and “systems models,” the ultimate treatment of people as objects and the dehumanization of thought. This, coupled with the government abuse of migrants who are in fact our closest neighbors from the United States of Mexico and Central America, and who are the best friends that we don’t acknowledge, makes for a grim reality that we have to face and uproot.
This loss of 15-year-old Day’von Hann underlines that those in power have little concern with what is happening to so many young people. We will do differently. I will remember Day’von.