Sympathy for the Devil photos / LA WEEKLY

This is a piece I wrote as a cover story for the L A Weekly about systematic abuse of minority kids in Los Angeles by law enforcement…  I don’t have to tell you because you already know… it’s gotten worse since.

SYMPATHY FOR THE DEVIL: INSIDE LOOK AT GANG HOODS

Crime Stats Say L.A.’s Streets Are Safer Than Ever, So Why Are Gang Hoods Still So Bloody? 

Sympathy for the Devil
Sympathy for the Devil




On the day his father left for good, Mauricio’s father had some parting words for his son: “Whatever you do, be the best.”“That’s what he told me,” Mauricio remembers. “So I said, ‘I’m going to be the best fucking gangster in L.A.’”
This happened when Mauricio was 12, the year he started banging. Three years later, on February 24, 2005, Mauricio — not his real name because he is in this country illegally — stopped by his mom’s job to get 20 bucks to buy a part for his bike.

“I kissed my mom and told her I loved her,” Mauricio says. “I was on my beach cruiser, near Gage, near the fucking football field. I went to the school and got some water, then I was ready to go home and get something to eat and shit.

“I was going to the sidewalk. I saw a white Impala pull around the corner. I see two guys looking at me, and a homey I recognized got out of the car. I knew him from before. I used to be with his sister when I was 13. I seen the gun. I was trying to hop the fence to get away.

“He started dumping. I turned a little. I remember seeing the bullets cutting through the grass, then, poof, dirt flying … like in a fucking movie.

“First one was in the back. It made me do a turn to the left. It went through by my spine, through a disc — missed the nerves. It broke my intestines and [went] in my liver. Then another one hit me in the side, in and out. The other in the arm.

“I was conscious. I was on the floor looking up. A clear blue sky like I never seen one like that before. I was like, fuck, I was having fucking flashbacks of my life. I seen my whole life in 30 seconds. I was a little baby and fucking up till the time I was there getting shot.

“I was on the floor, taking deep breaths. Trying not to panic. Then I saw another fool hit me up, he stood over me, like, ‘Where you from, homey?’

“Then the ambulance came. That was the first time I got shot. I was barely, like, 15. But here I am.”

mauricio
aka Mauricio
sympathy-for-the-devil-inside-look-at-gang-hood
sympathy-for-the-devil-inside-look-at-gang-hood
Journalist Sam Slovick at Jordan Downs housing project in South Los Angeles
photo by Luigi Ventura

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