Music, Poetry & Justice

Last Saturday, July 11, I had the privilege of sharing the stage with Perla Batalla and her wonderful band for their Grand Performance set at the California Plaza. There must have been two thousand people there. As in New Mexico in April, I read my poem "My Name's Not Rodriguez" to Perla's rendition of the Mexican classic "La Llorona." My wife Trini and our two sons, Ruben and Luis, were in the seats for most of Perla's show. We also stayed for the Spanish Jazz stylings of Buika--what a performance! If you have not checked out the Grand Performances at California Plaza please do so--they include top acts from around the world, and it's free. On Monday, I addressed about thirty 3rd and 4th graders at Chandler School in Pasadena, part of the Summer Enrichment Program. These kids were especially sharp. We talked about gangs, about drugs, about how to have a fulfilled, positive and a healthy outlook on life so that gangs and drugs don't fill the empties in many of our kids. I also spoke on Thursday, July 15, to about 400 students at Mount San Antonio College in Walnut, CA. They were a fantastic audience, with great questions based on reading my book "Always Running." I must say I was quite honored by the students' enthusiasm, their hugs, and deep interest. I had two lines of people in front of a table while I signed books and had photos taken. That day I also attended the second bail hearing for peace activist and community leader Alex Sanchez. Like the last time, we had a full house in court on Alex's behalf, including his family as well as his many friends and supporters. This time Judge Manuel Real was not as willing as the last judge to just accept the government's statements to deny bail. Judge Real demanded to hear all the tapes that the government claims incriminates Alex. We all want to know what those tapes contain. Apparently there is no other evidence but these tapes. We need to know on what basis the government is willing to remove Alex from his family, his work as director of Homies Unidos, and force him to face life without the possibility of parole. Alexโ€™s reputation and the reputation of all legitimate and decent gang interventionists, peace advocates and community leaders have been put on the line in this case. We understand Alex must spend 23 hours of the day in his cell--and can only get out for a shower or a phone call, but not both. Although any defendant is supposed to be treated as innocent until proven guilty, his treatment is the exact opposite. The โ€œWe Are Alexโ€ campaign is now moving forward. There will be a website soon. I'll try to keep everyone updated on this important case. c/s

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