Gang members speak |

Gang members speak

Interviews with South Lake Tahoe teens – some who say they are in gangs, recently out, or know gang members talk about why young people opt to join:

Most elected not to use their own names:

Hector: “For me it was like a second family. I was never alone – I always had someone there. My mother has to work – she barely even spends time with us. It’s just the way life goes.”

The Stranger: “I was in a gang in Carson City – I wasn’t in my own country and I wanted to be with people of my own race. I was taken in by a family associated with a gang, so I joined out of loyalty. I didn’t have anyone to support me – I didn’t have anyone, that’s why I joined a gang.”

Brenda: “It’s macho for the younger boys, and a lot of kids have problems with their families. The movies and the arcades at the casinos are the only things to do here – then the cops wonder why we hang out in groups and do nothing.

David: “It’s about respect. If someone bothers you over and over you have to find a way to defend yourself. You need protection. If someone disrespects you in front of a crowd, you have to do something. Sometimes it even escalates if you walk away.”

James: “We don’t get a lot of respect from people in authority, so it makes it hard to respect them. And some girls like gang members, even if they’re not in a girl’s gang.”

Sabina: “We respect older people, but a lot of them don’t know how to respect us. There’s no place for teens to go – we get kicked out of most places by 10 o’clock.”

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