Stockton, CA — In an effort to give free financial literacy courses and personal finance development programs to impoverished minorities in San Joaquin; Leandro Vicuña elaborated a Free Financial Literacy Workshop at the Stockton Civic Auditorium — a program offered by Sus Finanzas. “100 to 150 persons attended the workshop during its peak,” explained Vicuña.The workshop was scheduled at the same time as the Coalition of Mexican American Organizations (COMA) held the Cinco de Mayo Parade on the streets outside the Civic Auditorium. “We partnered with Sus Finanzas to have the Cinco de Mayo Parade closing ceremony as both events would conclude at the same time,” in a tone of disappointment Ines Ruiz-Huston, President of COMA and Chair of the Parade shared her concern as personnel at the Civic Auditorium had pushed everyone out and closed its doors to COMA.
Ruiz-Huston explained, “We had scheduled performances by talented young men and women, members of Fathers and Families of San Joaquin; as well as, the King and Queen of the Parade [high school seniors who competed for the crown representing the Cinco de Mayo Parade] and the announcement of the winning parade entries; following the Pacific Coast Judges determination.”
“Our children, and we, were kicked out-off the Civic [Auditorium] as if we were some sort of garbage,” noted Jorge Perez who’s children were going to participate in the theatre performance. “Our children had a strong message of peace, in a performance that included the Parade’s Grand Marshall, Father Dean,” added Linda Medina parent and community volunteer of the program. “We spent more than three months rehearsing every day to deliver a message that would help our youth — whoever was in charge of the Civic simply ignored the efforts of our youth.” Medina explained.
“The City of Stockton kicked us out,” noted Leandro Vicuña, founder of Sus Finanzas and responsible for Civic Auditorium’s rental, “The city was concern that the Civic was going to be thrashed and restrooms over utilized,” said Vicuña.
“I saw how the youth practiced their performance, how they wanted to make a statement and to make a difference — a lot of effort went into this…,” added Kitty Ruhstaller who was also asked to leave, “I even saw gang members; soon to not be — engage and willing to send a message of peace.”
According to Jackie Garcia-Flores, Facility Coordinator under the City of Stockton’s Community Services Department, “Leandro Vicuña announced that there were not enough vendors to support the event and ask that the city to close the event by 1:00 p.m.” Garcia-Flores clarified that, ”the city did not closed it, the event finished early.”
In a tone of disillusion and with tears some the young participants felt ignored and humiliated. “It was embarrassing and humiliating,” shared Yadira Perez who was ready to perform her part.
“I gave it my best shot at giving the performance the little time I had at the show mobile before the city streets were open to traffic: it was established on our contract that by 2:00 p.m. the street would open.” Ruiz-Huston was able to get an extra 15 minutes from Stockton’s Police Department to hold traffic back on Center Street.
“I’m waiting on a response from our city council; I have done many events at the Civic Auditorium and never seen something like this happen before,” noted Ruhstaller.