Statewide Poverty in Action Network’s Teens in Action members.
Statewide Poverty in Action Network’s Teens in Action members.

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The bill, HB 1126, proposed by state Attorney General Rob McKenna, expands law enforcement’s ability to issue protection orders against alleged gang members and calls for sentence enhancements when certain felonies are committed. Critics believe the bill, to be voted on at the end of the month, allows law enforcement to racially-profile young people.

Dear Representatives,
I am writing you today because I want to oppose the gang bill HB1126 & SB5799. I feel this decision upon this bill shouldn’t be a decision made by adults. I think this bill should be a decision for teens/young adults to decide since it has everything to do with them. I personally have not had a problem with the law but you can’t make a decision to take someone’s freedom based off of the clothes that they are wearing. We as young adults are already having so many problems in the life that we live now & we don’t really need the stress & problems with this bill. Think about how this will affect your children too. If this law is passed then your children will have their freedom taken too. You’re probably saying “No, not my children,” but at the end of the day no adult knows what their child is doing when they’re not home or out of your sight. So please take my voice in consideration & don’t pass this bill. Thank you.
Sincerely,
Andreanna (full name omitted by request), 18, West Seattle

Dear Representatives,
I am writing you today because I believe all youth are equally protected under the law. A fair criminal justice system is important to many [people’s] future and there is something we can do about it. My community deserves to be safe like any other. My neighborhood seems to have a lot of crime and gang activity so the police patrol my streets. The police target me and my friends as gang members even though we aren’t. If I go to jail, then my future will get impacted. I think that putting the money toward afterschool sports and our programs for youth as well as to keep the alternative schools running will help with gang prevention. I urge you not to support (HB1126, SB5799) the “Racial Profiling/gang bill” and save funding for alternative schools in the public schools system.
I ask you to not let the Gang Bill (HB 1126, SB5799) pass. Thank you for taking the time to hear from me.
Sincerely,
D’Marcus Coleman, 16, South Seattle

Dear Representatives,
I am writing because I do not agree with the gang bill HB1126 that they are trying to pass. I think that all of us teens should be treated equally. This is not fair to innocent teens. Nobody should be able to tell us we are in a gang just because of how we look. There are already many racist police and this would give them the power to get us for just walking. If someone is doing something bad then the police can say something but not just by standing or walking down the street. It is not fair to anyone to be judged for no reason. My community is full of teens that deserve to feel safe and not be worried that the police can stop them for no reason. If someone is doing something bad then, yes, but I believe that unless you’re doing something bad then police should not be able to say anything. I think that a better solution is putting money towards community centers. Also more afterschool programs, sports, and other activities to keep teens more busy. Also schools should stop closing because that affects us. They are trying to close alternatives schools which help us a lot and they should not close them down. They should also put money to gang prevention programs. I urge you guys not to pass this Gang bill. I think you guys should support us, not get us worried. I hope that you guys help us not hurt us. Think about how we teens are feeling about this Gang bill. I hope to hear from you guys that the gang bill was taken out and I hope to hear that you guys supported us.
Sincerely,
Jose Gutierrez Ruelas, 16, West Seattle

Dear Representatives,
I am writing to you today because I think that all youths should be treated equally. We can do something about a fair criminal justice system. My neighborhood deserves to be safe like any other neighborhood. Sometimes my neighborhood has somewhat of gang activity so the police goes to my neighborhood. The police targets my friends even though they aren’t gang members. If HB1126 passes than the police can arrest anyone even if they didn’t do anything or they are not gang members. I think that HB1126 should not pass because from my point of view people should not be arrested because of what they wear. If I go to jail then my future will get difficult. I think that putting the money toward afterschool programs and sports for teens, as well as to keep the alternative schools running will help with gang prevention. I urge you not to support HB1126 the “Racial Profiling/Gang Bill” and save funding for alternative schools in the Public School System. I they close the alternative schools than people that got kicked out of regular Middle Schools and High Schools won’t get a chance to graduate. Thank you for taking your time to read my letter and hear from me. I look forward to hearing from you too.
Sincerely,
Raquel Contreras

Dear Representatives,
To be honest I don’t like “operation Gang Bill”. Instead of making life easy you would actually make life a lot more harder then it already is and especially for me and my people. I’m writing this letter because I’m voting for you guys to not make that law pass. So as one voice for my Latin community I say “NO” to that law.
Sincerely,
Daniel Vargas

Dear Representatives,
I am writing you because I do oppose to the gang bill HB1126, SB5799. I feel that our system needs a fair law enforcement and that everyone should be treated equally and not based upon their skin color. My community deserves to be safe like any other and should be able to depend on the police and not be afraid. Police in my neighborhood harass young minorities for standing at a bus stop, hanging out at a park, walking to the store, walking around the neighborhood or just by looking at a kid based on what they look and dress like. Police find reasons to get minorities in trouble and talk down to us to erk our nerves which makes us want to put our hands on them or say something bad that could get us into trouble. I ask that you guys don’t pass the gang bill (HB1126, SB5799) and that money should go to community centers, schools, libraries, parks and communities. We need these programs to keep people of color off the streets and to better our education, life, and community. Thanks for taking your time to hear my side of the story. Hopefully I’’ hear from you soon.
Sincerely,
Alvinna Henry


The Statewide Poverty Action Network is a non-profit legislative advocacy organization and the largest anti-poverty organization in the state. Poverty Action connects people with lower incomes to the democratic process and to decision makers in the state capitol. “Teens In Action” is a new project giving voice and political power to young people. It is coordinated by the Statewide Poverty Action Network in conjunction with Ms. Dian Fundisha-Bey’s American Government class at Seattle Interagency Academy Southwest, an alternative school in White Center that serves youth aged 12-18, primarily students of color and self-identified as low-income. Teens In Action “allows Seattle Interagency Academy students to develop new leadership skills while fostering civic participation in work that will improve community life. It facilitates new ways for young people and adults to work together for a better community while earning each participating student service learning credit towards graduation.”

Juanita Maestas, Poverty Action Board Member and one of the organizers, said, “The program is built upon the belief that young people as well as adults need to be able to build skills that allow them to act on their interests and concerns. Students will be empowered to speak truth to power and lead their communities in effecting change.”

 

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