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In for life? Former gang member describes his experience

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SHOTS fired. A stabbing. Anything else that puts another’s life on the line has been happening recently and it seems to be linked with gangs. All around the Salt Lake Valley, there are many gang-related things that have happened in the new year. Yet, one former gang member’s story could provide some insight that shows that being in a gang isn’t that cut and dry.

Having problems in one’s personal life and the transition between junior high and high school leads young people into gangs. “I feel that all gangs are labeled as bad people and that they don’t do any good. Real gangs are very family-friendly, I think people shouldn’t judge. gangs are probably the most respected compared to any other group of people,” a former gang member who wishes to remain anonymous said.

While being a gangster, his role model was SPM (South Park Mexican) and wanted to have the respect and ‘ride or die’ crew to back him up. However, that was not every aspect of it. “I just had this urge to fight and I guess that’s how it started. There was a point that they didn’t like me because they knew who I was and I had problems everywhere. It’s something I definitely regret,” he said.

Nevertheless, one thing this former gangster said was that he cared about his family. While in his gangster days, he tried to stay away from family and not let them know about his affiliations. Yet, while in the gang, this person learned new ways to protect his family. While affiliated, he learned respect and discipline, which carries on to his current job.

Now an advisor, this former gang member helps people respect and discipline themselves and others. “You notice that gang members have hearts and have feelings. Growing up is really hard for them and it’s very different now with grades, school, and gangs. Who you hang out with reflects on your decisions and changes you. I wouldn’t change them, I would give them pointers to not mess up their life, but it’s up to them to change their life. I’m here to help but there is only so much I can do for them,” he said.

Judgment was a major factor that pushed this gangster to get out and help other kids. “Judgment was there. The grown-ups judged you the most, but any judgement makes you hate the world. I handled the negativity through fighting. If the negativity didn’t sprout, I wouldn’t be where I am today,” he said

Starting as a confused teen who found a sense of purpose by joining a gang to becoming an advisor that helps keep students on the path to success, this former gangster put his life back together. Not all gangs are bad, even those in a gang acknowledge that the shootings and violence isn’t what being in a gang is about.

“I’m not proud of them. It’s taking a lot of people’s lives. The boy who got shot it’s something to look at to see what some gangs cause and how they can ruin a life. You shouldn’t shoot. If you want to fight, do it with fists,” hesaid. Shooting isn’t the answer, but many don’t realize that until it is too late.

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In for life? Former gang member describes his experience