Fear the power

Minorities should fear the law. That’s the message that 100 Black Men wants to instill in Sacramento area teens of color.

“They’re scare tactics on how cruel the system is,” Donald Bunn said of this weekend’s “The Criminal Justice System and You,” in which local judges, police and probation officers will tell kids about the harsh realities of getting busted. “The strip search, we really emphasize the strip search.”

100 Black Men is a nonprofit organization that mentors young people. Boys and girls from Sacramento’s five area high schools and two middle schools have been invited to learn why to avoid a life of crime.

The event will be held March 31 from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. in the court rooms of the Main Jail Building at 651 I St. in Sacramento. While focused mostly on young African-Americans, Monroe Mitchell of 100 Black Men said his group targets, “anyone who is at risk of being in trouble.”

The organization seeks to reverse the trend of rising incarceration rates within minority communities. According to Justice Policy Institute (www.cjcj.org/punishingdecade/), about one in three black men ages 20 to 29 is under criminal justice control (prison, jail, parole or probation), compared with just 4 percent of white males.

Bunn said “The Criminal Justice System and You” is meant to put lasting fear in children: “They begin to realize they can’t gang-bang and get away with it.”

While the issues of racial profiling or police shootings of minorities aren’t necessarily part of the program, Mitchell said it will probably be discussed during the question and answer period because young black men need to know, “If stopped by a policeman, keep your hands clear and in the air.”

The message: Fear the system.

They want their coffee straight: no cream, no sugar, and no recombinant Bovine Growth Hormone or other genetically engineered ingredients. Oh yeah, and they want it grown in the shade by farmers who are paid a living wage.

Those were the demands against Starbucks Coffee by the Organic Consumers Association, which on March 20 picketed Starbucks shops across the country, including the one at 1410 Alhambra Blvd. in Sacramento.

“We’re not trying to bring Starbucks down,” said Christian Heath, one of about 20 local protesters. “We are trying to encourage them to do the right thing.”

While Starbucks does offer some “Fair Trade certified” coffees that promise that coffee pickers aren’t being exploited, the company has purportedly refused to guarantee its milk and other products are free of genetically modified foods (GMOs), which some fear have the potential for creating health problems.

“Hey-hey, ho-ho, we don’t want no GMOs,” chanted protesters, while Starbucks patrons and passing pedestrians remained indifferent, except for one woman who yelled back at the taunting protesters, “Hey, I recycle!”