Letters to the Editor

Week of Wednesday, October 6, 2004

And they serve and protect the people in the Bay Area, seven days a week, 24 hours a day.

So frankly, Matt Smith's statement -- "Do you hear that, Mr. Terrorist Bent on Attacking U.S. Government Facilities? The Department of Homeland Security is on the lookout for you." -- is actually quite accurate.

As for the police officers of the San Francisco FPS, the difference between them and Mr. Mallek is that they accepted their time as "trainees" as part of paying their dues.

Oh, and they actually work for their $60,000.

Elaine Dos Santos

A Guest Column

On Friday, Sept. 24, while Latino politicos were holding a press conference on the steps of City Hall to denounce a degrading Sept. 15, 2004, SF Weekly cartoon by Dan Siegler, Mission District children, students, parents, and activists were picketing outside of SF Weekly's offices, demanding an apology.

These children and families, a majority of whom are from the Mission District's 30-year-old Mission Education Project Inc. (MEPI) program, were furious with Mr. Siegler's parody of Mayor Newsom's efforts to take back the Mission. Siegler used negative stereotypes of Latinos as the whipping stick to get his point across, stereotypes that were insensitive, hurtful, and irresponsible to the hardworking families and individuals who struggle daily despite a slow economy, the lack of legal documents, a financially strapped school district, and violence in the community. Rita Alviar, the MEPI executive director who organized the pickets at a second protest held on Monday, Sept. 27, was angry that the editor saw no insensitivity in Siegler's use of the Mission and the stereotypes as a way to attack the mayor.

Claudia Aquilar, a senior at Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, stated, "While gangbangers and teen pregnancy are problems in our community, there are many college-bound kids, and the editor should understand the circumstances surrounding these negative situations such as poverty and racism." Rosa Negrete, a parent of two participants in the MEPI program, stated, "There is a beautiful diversity in the Mission District; we are not all from Mexico but also from many different Central and South American countries."

"While problems do exist," she continued, "many families struggle on a daily basis to raise their children as best possible with the hopes that their children attend college and become successful."

Participants of the protest spoke with Editor John Mecklin on Friday, and a contingent, along with District 9 Supervisor Ammiano, met with Mr. Mecklin on Monday. While he would not apologize publicly, he did offer us the opportunity to write this column.

The participants in the protest still want an apology and feel SF Weekly should become more familiar with the Mission and write about the baseball and soccer teams, hardworking families, the friendly atmosphere, and the many success stories and individuals that the Mission District has produced.

Hopefully, the children and families who participated in the protest have learned that we need to continue to hold the press' "feet to the fire," create our own Latino press, and not assume anyone is going to highlight our successes unless we do it ourselves. The fight for justice continues.
-- Mauricio E. Vela

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