Tenderloin residents demand safer streets,
support for families
By Tamara Barak
May 9, 2007
Two coalitions converged on San Francisco City Hall yesterday
to call for the city to invest in struggling families and make
the streets safe for Tenderloin residents.
More than 100 Tenderloin residents marched to City Hall through
their troubled streets, stopping at the sites of recent murders
to honor victims with moments of silence.
Dina Hilliard of Safety Network Organize, one of the groups sponsoring
the rally and march, said she and her neighbors are fed up with
escalating violence in the Tenderloin.
In April alone, three people were murdered in the neighborhood.
"It's time for change, it's time for a new Tenderloin,"
Caesar Garcia, who has lived in the neighborhood for a decade,
put the blame for the violence on liquor stores, rampant prostitution
and drug sales.
"It brings in people from outside the neighborhood. The
Tenderloin has become a paradise to do all sorts of travesties,"
Garcia said. "We're demanding a secure neighborhood. We cannot
allow our children to live in this sort of environment. We need
to finish with all of this."
Residents decried the lack of parks and recreation facilities
in their neighborhood, the drug dealing on their sidewalks and
the lack of protection for seniors and children.
"Just because you're poor, doesn't mean you need to be ignored.
Enough is enough. We're not going to take it any more," said
Elise Westbrooks-Williams of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic, another
San Francisco police Capt. Gary Jimenez of the Tenderloin station
said the demand for drugs is behind much of the violence. The
Police Department's gang task force has been concentrated on stemming
the violence since it flared up again in December, he said.
Jimenez said he sympathized with the marchers. "I share
their dream for a better city and a safer city," he said.
Jimenez said city officials should focus on "sanctions
and solutions" for drug dealers and users in order to help
police clean up the streets.
"It's time the city stood up and did something," he
The Tenderloin marchers were met at City Hall by the Family Budget
Coalition, made up of youth, childcare and family services advocates.
At a press conference, the Family Budget coalition unveiled its
$20 million budget agenda. Coalition leaders have asked Mayor
Gavin Newsom and the San Francisco Board of Supervisors to allocate
the money for new and expanded services in violence prevention,
alternatives to incarceration, childcare, children's health and
The coalition's plan includes more than $7.3 million for affordable
childcare, including a voucher program to protect low-income families
from cost increases.
The plan also includes $6.4 million for violence prevention,
including mental health services for public housing residents
and re-entry and intervention services for paraplegic gunshot
victims, serious and ex-offenders.
The plan calls for more than $2.2 million dedicated to land use
and parks, including after school programs in the Tenderloin and
South of Market neighborhoods, improvements to existing parks
and a new skate park at Golden Gate Park.
More than a million dollars each is allocated for workforce development
and family support services under the proposed plan.
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