The Gang Life
What is it about the structure of gangs that draws youth into it's hands and what kind of support can we as parents and community members provide to help our youth realize their real potential?
Join host Carlos Chavez on Monday December 5th on KBOO's Prison Pipeline for a discussion on gang youth. My guests will be gang mediators Luis J Rodriguez and Eddie Bocanegra. We will talk about what it is that attracts young people into joining gangs and about some of the work that they are doing to help young people avoid the violence and abuse that gangs ultimately provide.
Luis J Rodriguez is a peacemaker among gangs on a national and international level. He has become a leading gang expert testifying through affidavits, phone testimonies, and court appearances in more than 60 cases, mostly deportation cases to Mexico and Central America. His thirty years of urban peace and gang intervention work was utilized in the development of the Community-based Gang Intervention Model with around forty other L.A. gang peace advocates and interventionists, which the L.A. City Council approved in February 2008, and is now sent across the United States and other countries. He’s also now a trainer for the Advancement Project’s gang intervention academy.
He wrote the award winning memoir Always Running, which was a compelling account of his life growing up as a Chicano gang member in South and East Los Angeles. Always Running is a brutal story of youth exploration, survival and of transformation in and out of the gang life and is a testament of will and triumph of the human spirit. There are over 400,000 copies in print since its release in 1995 and is widely regarded as a classic of Chicano literature.
Rodriguez has recently released a part two of this memoir titled, It Calls You Back: An Odyssey Through Love, Addiction, Revolutions and Healing, which explores the continuing struggle as a young adult facing addiction, abusive family and marital relationships and the trying development of an independent and meaningful career. It is his quest for balance in the wake of turmoil and is every bit as eloquent as his first award winning book.
Eddie Bocanegra works for CeaseFire out of the University of Illinois at Chicago. He spent 14 years in prison for a murder he committed when he was 17. Bocanegra now specializes in high-risk mediation and intervention with youth living on the southwest side of Chicago. He is a mentor, court advocate, and programming developer promoting rehabilitation services in the Latino community. He gives workshops on violence prevention, gang awareness, conflict resolution, and issues of juvenile justice and health.
Bocanegra is an accomplished artist who participates in various art initiatives within the Latino community. He volunteers with Urban Life Skills, a mentoring program for high-risk youth. He is currently completing his degree in social work at Northeastern Illinois University and plans to pursue a doctorate.
He was recently featured on a new award winning documentary titled, The Interrupters. Bocanegra is one of three extraordinary mediators of the CeaseFire program who dedicate their lives to saving young people from committing and becoming victims of the violence that they were once very much a part of.