The Story of the Idriss Stelly Foundation (Part 1 of 3)
POOR correspondent – Posted on 18 June 2010
by Marlon Crump
“Idriss was a beautiful baby boy. At age 4, he was mad at me, and said Mom, you better watch out, because next time around, I will be your mother.” I listened intently as mesha Monge -Irizarry lovingly remembered her son Idriss, whose life was brutally stolen by the San Francisco Police Department.
“When he was 20, I bought our home in the Bayview Hunter’s Point,” she continued. “Kids from Double Rock came to challenge him, curious about what a 220 pound Black man with a huge Mastiff/pit-bull dog named Nanok was up to, asking where he was from. Idriss responded, “Hang on for a second,” ran inside and came back out, with a folding table, two chairs, and a chess game. Soon enough the kids would come regularly and knock on our door, asking Where is E? I want to learn how to play chess!”
Listening to Mesha recall fond memories about her son, I couldn’t help thinking about my own past and the many struggles I’ve endured throughout my life even before my own arrival here to the Bay Area, in San Francisco from my native hometown of Cleveland, Ohio.
Luckily I met Mesha two years ago, one of the most incredible, compassionate, and monumental women in the world. It was during one of the most difficult periods I’ve ever experienced in my life. I had just survived a brutal encounter with the San Francisco Police Department and had begun to seek counseling and treatment for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as well as police accountability for their unjust treatment.
During my search, a friend told me about the Idriss Stelley Foundation (ISF.) I immediately called. I’ll never forget the first thing Mesha, the founder and director of the organization, said to me: “I am so very sorry that happened to you, Marlon, we will do everything to help you. That’s a promise!”
Since then, Mesha has become one of my dearest, closest friends and the ISF continues to help and support me in my mental health struggles.
The Idriss Stelley Foundation is the one of the very few non-profit, grassroots organizations based in San Francisco that courageously addresses the deeply painful issues surrounding police brutality.
The foundation has changed many lives and effectively raised public awareness about police brutality, racial profiling, police violence against seniors, people with physical and mental health disabilities, and especially the unjustified use of deadly force.
My interview of ISF, Mesha, and Idriss Scott Stelley, himself (in spirit), was going to be a very special interview.
I decided that doing the interview was especially crucial because the mainstream media has only written Idriss up as just another young, black statistic killed by a hail of police gunfire. I, along with the entire staff of POOR, strongly oppose that misconception and feel that the truth must be told. Most who never really knew him only remember how he died, but I felt that it was time to set the record straight.
My family of POOR Magazine, predominately Tiny aka Lisa Gray-Garcia, Leroy Moore, and Jewnbug (who was very close to Idriss) knew Mesha better than anyone in our family, including myself. Idriss’ heart was totally devoted to his family and friends, even up to the very day his life was stolen from him by numerous San Francisco Police Department Officers from the Bayview and Mission precincts and the TL Police Task Force (I will explain this terrifying account, later, in the true summary version, from Parts II-III of this story.) Ultimately, everyone that picks up a newspaper, turns on his or her television or radio, or logs in to the internet news needs to know how precious Idriss Stelley really was to those who knew him.
It was an extremely painful for me and for POOR Magazine (a grassroots organization that fights 24/7 against the evils of poverty injustices and re-framing KKKorporate Media News) to interview Mesha about her non-profit grassroots foundation, its history, and its organizational construction borne from the very blood of Idriss Scott Stelley.
I arrived at Mesha’s home in the Bayview Hunter’s Point community on December 3rd, 2007. After a warm welcome of hugs and kisses, from Mesha and Idriss’ pet dog, Nanok, I began her interview about ISF’s mission statement, history, and the successful impact it has had on everyone in BVHP (and possibly the universe.)
Instead of a story, The Idriss Stelley Foundation deserves a mini-series, as there is just far too much of this organization’s history that has been overlooked, misunderstood, and ignored by KKKorporate Media, and media in general.
Alex Haley, author of (space)Roots, exposed the whole callous origins and aftermaths of the inhumane slave trade in a 1977 television series. Today, over thirty years later, POOR re-introduces The Idriss Stelley Foundation Story, exposing failed proper procedural protocols and training in law enforcement’s response with unjustified use of deadly force, against people experiencing psychiatric crisis.
This is totally ironic, the concurrence of Idriss’ birth and the television worldly launching of Roots. From a metaphorical perspective, between the two, there are more root causes of hidden, neglected, and ignored evils that exist within this universe than many care to acknowledge.
Mesha Mongé-Irizarry was born December 5th, 1947, in the Pyrenees Mountains, the Basque Nation. The Basque Country Basque Euskal Herria is a cultural region in the western Pyrenees Mountains at the border between France and Spain, extending down to the coast of the Bay of Biscay (Cantabrian Sea.)
Her mother, Suzanne Mongé, was the head of a health organization, while her father René Mongé, was the editor of Social Informations Magazine in Paris, France. Mr. Mongé was also a playwright.
Mesha was the Director of Hayward Emergency Domestic Violence & Homeless Shelters when her child was killed. In 1968, Mesha was the treasurer of National Union of French Students (UNEF), during the socialist revolution uniting the Labor and Student movements, crushed by General De Gaulle in only two weeks.
In 1975, following her arrival in San Francisco, California, she was the program director of various community organizations, Women Inc, La Casa De Las Madres for Battered Women , Shanti, AIDS Services for people with HIV, and Lodestar, post-incarceration HIV services for women diagnosed with the deadly virus.
Mesha’s resume proved to be even more extensive, as she holds various degrees and licenses in Public Law and psychology. She’s even trained law enforcement officials and sheriff’s deputies in the areas of mental health for twenty years. From the tender age of 14 to this day, she has been involved with progressive social issues.
“I taught Idriss that it is NEVER too early to commit to social justice,” said Mesha with a vibrant, sunny smile, as she began to summarize the Birth of Idriss Scott Stelley.
To Be Continued