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More Gang Stuff

February 19, 2007

Someone has asked for a little more detail on my experience with gang violence. So, in short, here it is.
In 1994 my cousin Tom was shot and killed by two Los Angeles gang members who were, at that time, living in Denver. My cousin was returning home from a baseball game, and these two guys, who had left a trail of destruction throughout the city, decided they would rob someone, steal their car, etc.
The details of what happened are long and cowardly, but the short of it is that my cousin was shot twice and died on the scene.
It was a big story in Denver at the time, front page of both papers, covered in Court TV, etc.
I had never witnessed a criminal trial, which was sickly fascinating, as well as being very educational.
I have had other experiences as well. I did a long-term photo essay on a young, 4th Street Brothas(Austin,TX) gang member who was attempting to turn pro as a boxer and escape the gang life. He didn’t make it. During this story I was in a full-on machine gun shootout, during a little league game, which was my introduction to gang life.
I also spent a month, on and off, with the Austin Anti-Gang Unit of the APD. This was my final project in a photo class. I was clueless, but managed a few interesting images. More importantly, I learned how gang life is a part of the DNA of cities such as Austin.
And finally, just a sidenote, a tidbit if you will. While living in LA, I heard gunfire at night, many times, even wrote about it, which is the first posting on this blog if you want to go back(Half Awake to My LA), and was at home when a drive by shooting happened in front of our building. This is a block from Beverly Hills by the way. I grabbed my gear, ran outside to see a car smashed into a telephone pole, and a friend of mine with eyes like saucers saying, “I saw the entire thing.”

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