When we made the De-Bug the System shirt, it was to honor those who stand up for what they believe in, who hold strong to the truth of their convictions.
There are many who De-Bug the System everyday in their own humble way with an often unrecognized courage. And the “systems” can be whatever force or institution someone must challenge in order to free themselves or loved ones from a current condition. We want to hold up this spirit, because we find strength and inspiration through witnessing each other’s determined fight. Below are three De-Bug members who exemplify “De-Bug the System” in their own way.
We hope you may get a shirt for yourself, or for someone you know who may be De-Bugging the System, or to only voice support for those whose struggles let us know that change is possible.
Steeda McGruder has spent a total of 17 years behind bars. While incarcerated in 2010, she created a vision to break the cycle of incarceration for herself and other women. She called it “Sisters That Been There.” Once released, she worked to make her dream real. The Santa Clara County Probation Department was so impressed by her work that they agreed to support her program of working with women just coming out of prison and jail. Steeda has graduated dozens of women from her program, one many say was the life-changing moment in their lives. In this photo, Steeda stands in front of the Re-Entry Resource Center, where she has an office and supports the successful re-entry of men and women coming back to the community.
Ramon Vasquez, a truck driver and father of two, was once wrongly charged with murder. Ramon, who had no criminal history, was totally innocent of the charge. Nonetheless, Ramon was arrested and incarcerated, all the while proclaiming his innocence. He and his family worked tirelessly to find the inaccuracies in the investigation and prove the system had the wrong man. After six months, the prosecutor dropped the charges and released him. A few months later, Ramon won a Factual Finding of Innocence, a rare legal device that only occurs in Santa Clara County a few times in a generation that allows the court to formally admit their mistake. In this photo, Ramon looks at the street in front of the main jail, the same street he watched while being housed during his incarceration.
Six years ago, Noreen Salinas’s father Steve Salinas was tased to death by San Jose police officers, even though he was unarmed. Despite her heartbreak, she vowed to fight for justice for her father and lead marches, rallies, and press events to bring awareness to issues of excessive force and the lethality of Tasers. This past summer, a federal jury found that excessive force and the Taser was responsible for Steve Salinas’s death and awarded the family $1 million. It was the first verdict of its kind in the history of San Jose. In this photo, Noreen stands in front of the federal court where she won justice for her father.