|RP man to stage rally for children
The issues of bullying, racial profiling and violence against youth will take center stage in Santa Rosa on Saturday, June 23, with the “Standing for Children” rally.
The rally, the brainchild of coordinator and longtime youth advocate Morris Turner, of Rohnert Park, will take place at Courthouse Square from noon-2 p.m.
“I saw a bumper sticker recently that said something like ‘Be the change you want to see,’ and that's what I'm trying do,” Morris said. “I don't approve of young people being stereotyped or profiled, and I'm working to improve that situation.”
Speakers will include a father whose autistic son has suffered the affects of bullying. He will tell the audience how school officials and local police have minimized the situation.
“My personal philosophy and my wife's as well, is every child is my child, and I believe every one should feel that way,” Turner said.
“My sense of community does not end at the borders of Rohnert Park, and every incident in which a child is harmed, held down or prevented from being all they can be registers in my heart and as an adult, I feel some level of responsibility. I do try to be aware of what is happening nationally, but it is important to do what one can do in his or her own backyard and that is why I'm helping to stage the rally.”
Also, a former member of the Norteno gang will discuss how it feels to be a gang member and the consequences of perpetrating violence.
A mother of a son who was racially profiled by a community watch person will share how she’s been working with law enforcement officials, and counselor Rosie Shabazz will speak on child abuse.
Also, former Black Panther Party member Elbert “Big Man” Howard will discuss social conditions affecting youth and possible solutions.
Turner says the problems affecting the Rohnert Park-Cotati-Penngrove area are no different from any most places. Jobs are scarce for adults, but the situation is even direr for teenagers in California, where the unemployment rate for teens is above 30 percent.
“In the 1970s and 80s, I worked with several youth programs in Sonoma County, many of which either no longer exist or have been scaled down to bare survival level,” Turner said. “Some old-timers probably remember the Neighborhood Youth Corps.
Here in Rohnert Park and Cotati, we had teenagers doing internships in both city halls, public works departments and almost every other department. Youth are being squeezed out of the equation today.”
He lays some of the blame for the youth’s problems at the feet of some decisions of adults in power.
“At SRJC, fees are going up, and the offering of classes is being reduced. It’s a similar reality at SSU. At the high schools, all creative avenues are being cut or eliminated.
“Music, art, film usually don't exist. Physical education has become just a word and has lost out to obesity. Limited opportunities usually lead to limited and poor choices.”