A week after social activist Daphne Phung introduced her organization California Against Slavery (CAS) at the Bay Area Family Church on December 17, 2011, the campaign to gather the 800,000 signatures for a ballot initiative began. Right away, professional signature-gatherers and volunteers were dispatched all over California. District Pastor Rev. Kevin Thompson gave a powerful call for action, after which 20 members signed up to help. Unificationist David Miller oversaw the logistics of the operation, coordinating the volunteers and distributing the petitions.
To launch the campaign, a press conference was scheduled in San Francisco on January 11, 2012 which drew volunteers from as far as San Diego, all over the Bay Area and even Valley Springs. This was the first event they attended, and Unification volunteers met the key players and supporters behind the initiative, including Congresswoman Jackie Speier, Mark Klaas, whose daughter disappeared many years ago, Chris Kelly, the sponsor of the initiative and founder of Safer California Foundation, Leah Albright-Byrd, executive director of Bridget’s Dream, and Brian Marvel, president of the San Diego Police Officers’ Association.
Since then, CAS has held press conferences in Sacramento and San Diego to raise awareness about the campaign. Phung and her staff are constantly looking for opportunities to spread the word and to gather signatures. Every week, they provide the volunteers with a list of events that have great potential for networking and signature-gathering. Last week, many volunteers attended the National Democratic Convention in San Diego. Next week, local activists will attend the National Republican Convention in the Bay Area on February 24- 25, 2012.
Unificationists Join Forces with Phung
On Martin Luther King Day, some of the volunteers spent most of the day with Phung, collecting signatures at the Regeneration Church in Oakland. The place was packed and energized. It was a great opportunity to be out there and to get to know different organizations.
First-generation Unificationist Heike Parkin had another great experience in Silicon Valley at a women’s gathering on the Microsoft campus. Women leaders from all horizons, including educators and lawmakers, came to attend the viewing of “Missrepresentation,” a movie about how the perception of women has become sexualized. At the reception afterwards, many women gladly signed the petition.
Most recently, Unificationist Myrna Lapres gathered signatures at the Second Annual Bay Area Social Justice Forum at Holy Names University in Oakland. In the process she met, Dr. William J. Hynes, President of the University, who has visited the Unification Theological Seminary in Barrytown, New York and has had positive interactions with Unificationists since the 1980s. Lapres said that she was really inspired about the potential to network, cooperate, educate and work together.
Other volunteers have been focusing on visiting churches. Not all ministers are fired up by the campaign, but a few have taken on the cause of human trafficking. The best way to approach the churches is via small groups, especially women’s groups. Recently, after meeting the leader of one of these groups, CAS got a call from her minister, who confirmed that he would be gathering signatures at his church. CAS offers a concrete way to tackle the issue and to unite efforts to fight this battle.
Phung has initiated a weekly prayer to support this campaign, clarifying that it is not only about getting the ballot initiated, but also about healing all the people involved in human trafficking, pimps included. It’s about the healing the world, which can only take place with God and His grace. This is not just a campaign; it’s a movement to vindicate God and help build His kingdom.
Connecting to True Parents
Phung feels confident that CAS will reach its goal at the beginning of March. Of course, it has a lot to do with the professional signature gatherers but Unificationist volunteers interviewed for this report have said that through our members’ contribution, though seemingly modest, True Parents’ spirit is being channeled in this endeavor. And it’s only the beginning of a great partnership. Once CAS has the signatures needed, there will be an ongoing effort to keep raising awareness and challenging the evils of this world.
Often Bay area activists go to shopping centers and farmers markets to get a sufficient amount of signatures. Even though many are familiar with the process, it’s still challenging to get out there. It is clearly a spiritual battle. Standing there for hours, asking the question, “Would you like to sign our petition to increase the sanctions against sex trafficking?” over and over again can be challenging. Yet, if we think of it as an opportunity for people to take a stand against evil and in some way be connected with True Parents, it all becomes worthwhile.
I truly feel that for many, signing this petition is a condition that True Parents can claim for America’s sake. Thinking this way is truly empowering and drives our volunteers, whether they are approaching visitors at the zoo or their next door neighbors. Our volunteers are re-energized, re-inspired and excited to be out there and giving others an opportunity to make a meaningful offering. We all feel we can be agents of change, even in small ways.
On February 17, 2012, members of the CARP (Collegiate Assocation for the Research of Principles) chapter in the University of California Berkeley opened the doors of Hearst House to college friends and family for an Open Mic. Phung was a guest speaker and introduced CAS. Through the event, we were able to raise awareness about the horrors of sex trafficking amongst our second-generation and other youth.
Contributed by Pat Detlefsen in San Francisco.