PROJECT: Young Scholars for Justice












Anita Padilla Young Scholars for Justice Fund

Ms. Anita Padilla, a mother and grandmother was actively involved in the Alf Street
neighborhood area and became a leader for the relocation of the Tank Farm. She was one
of the spokespersons for the Tank Farm Toxic Tour that was attended by city, county and
state elected officials. Ms. Padilla always stressed the importance of education for
engaging in community struggles. In her spirit and memory, we honor her with the creation
of a scholarship fund for high school and college students who will work with PODER on
East Austin issues.

Young Scholar's for Justice (YSJ) was initiated in the summer of 1995 with college and high
schools students to collectively set an agenda to address pressing issues that impact their
daily lives on educational environmental and economic arenas. YSJ prepares students of
color to articulate their needs and concerns in order to make significant institutional
changes that negatively impact their communities. Participants in the internship program
increase their knowledge and skills in program development, implementation and


YSJ has been active in the community through the following projects:

Juvenile Justice

Activities were initiated in the summer of 2000 to survey young people on their experience
with discipline within their schools and the juvenile courts.

Current data suggests there is selective enforcement involving juveniles in Austin. 26% of
all juvenile referrals to Travis County Juvenile Court (TCJC) are African American, though
only 13% of Austin's juveniles (10-17 years) are African American. The situation for Latinos
is also drastic with 45% referrals to TCJC while only 34% of the juvenile population is
Latina/o (Travis County Juvenile Probation data 1998-99).

The issue of criminalization of our youth has been presented to the Austin Independent
School District and the Austin Equity Commission, which cited the information gathered by
YSJ in their final report to the Austin City Council (8/2001).

Driving While Black/Brown

Racial profiling is the practice of police officers stopping motorists of certain racial or ethnic
groups because of the belief that these groups are more likely than others to commit
certain crimes.

In Texas, the Department of Public Safety did a study that revealed clear evidence of racial
profiling. While Texas population is about 25% Latinos, Latinos drivers were targets of drug
searches 39% of the time; 1 in 18 Latinos stopped were searched. While 12% of Texas
population is black, 38% of drug searches involved black drivers; 1 in 19 Black drivers
stopped was searched. You can compare this to the number of white drivers subjected to
searches: 1 in 38.  

Bus Riders Union

PODER's Bus Riders Union members are the young, old, disabled population and primarily
economically disadvantaged. The union is proposing the elimination of bus fares, 24 hour
bus service, high frequency express and cross town routes, racks for baby strollers and
bikes, bus shelters on most stops, and aggressive promotion of vanpools.

PODER has a youth representative on the Capital Metro Consumer Services Advisory
Council (CSAC) and the City of Austin Urban Transportation Commission.
Austin Parks & Recreation Due to a growing community concern, PODER's Young Scholars
for Justice reviewed the services offered by the Austin Parks and Recreation. During the
summer of 2002, the YSJ surveyed over 200 participants in 13 recreation centers. The YSJ
found that Park Directors and Supervisors were predominantly male and that most activities
offered were catered to males. The Young Scholars for Justice believe this attributed to a
lack of female participation. The YSJ made recommendations to the Parks and Recreation
Department and to the City of Austin, which included things such as; hiring female staff
directors and supervisors, availability of scholarships in all of the recreation centers,
weekend openings, and more equipment and materials available at all centers.

During the summer of 2003, PODER's Young Scholars for Justice made follow-up visits to
six recreational centers review the implementation of their recommendations. The YSJ
found that female staff had been increased. The YSJ also saw an increase of female

Along with this new finding, the YSJ made the following additional recommendations to the
City of Austin and to the Parks and Recreation Program Committee:

1. The hiring of a grant writer to acquire money for equipment, more supervisors/staff, and
2. Sponsored internship programs
3. Self defense classes for women offered at all recreation centers
4. More volunteers to supervise activities
5. Scholarships made available at all centers

Other Noteworthy Activities
1. Provided testimony to national, state and local groups on transportation and other
issues affecting young people
2. Training and networking with youth throughout the United States
3. Involved with the community for educational reform
4. Active members of the Southwest Network for Environmental & Economic Justice's Youth
Leadership Development program
Vigil for Daniel Rocha
June 09, 2006
Marks the one year anniversary of the death of Daniel

Please click here for photos
PODER has been monitoring former Officer Julie Schroeder’s Civil Service
Proceedings to get reinstated to the Austin Police Department.  Julie Schroeder was
fired by Chief Knee for killing Daniel Rocha on June 9, 2005.  Daniel Rocha was not
armed.  For a week PODER members have been listening to testimony and seeing
pictures of Daniel Rocha’s body lying on the sidewalk, lifeless and seeing pictures of
the bullet wound.  We have heard former Officer Schroeder’s stories about why she
shot Daniel Rocha at point-blank range.  We have heard about the discrepancies
and inconsistencies in Schroeder and other officer’s testimony.  On Friday, May 26,
Vida Fuerte, a PODER member, couldn’t take it anymore.  He stood up at the hearing
and called Julie Schroeder a liar to her face, something so many people have wanted
to do, but have been unable to do so.  Vida Fuerte had no weapons and let
everyone in the hearing know that.  He laid on the floor and the police officers hand-
cuffed him without using any types of weapons.  Vida Fuerte stated, “That’s how you
do it Julie Schroeder, that’s how you arrest an unarmed person.”  He also shouted,
“Justice for Daniel Rocha…..Julie Schroeder is a murderer!”

Vida Fuerte was arrested and charged with hindering proceedings by disorderly
PODER's YSJ plan, organize and host a protest in front of the Austin
Police Headquarters. The protest aims to hold APD accountable for
the unarmed murder of 18 year old Daniel Rocha.
PODER files a Title VI Civil Rights complaint against the Austin Police
Department (11/9/05). The complaint requests that there be an
investigation into APD's discriminatory practices against communities of
color. It also seeks the withholding of all federal grant monies until such
time that the APD comes into compliance with the Title VI Act of 1964.
Zero Tolerance
Zero Tolerance Brochure (MS Word)
Zero Tolerance Fact Sheet (MS Word)
Zero Tolerance Report 2005 (MS Word)
Juvenile Justice F&Q (MS Word)
Zero Tolerance Fact Charts (MS Excel)