Profit-driven, gangs move off the local street corners

Steven A. Rosenberg (Boston Globe) | March 16, 2014

On the streets, Jeron Reddick became J-ROC and was known for never turning down a fight as a member of the Bloods. Francisco Paulino became Cisco, and developed a reputation as an enforcer for the Crips. They fought over territory; they fought if someone looked at them the wrong way; they fought because they didn’t think they would live past 21.

Both became gang members in Lynn when they were 13. After they faced off in their first gang fight, they immediately became rivals. Soon, they were leading their gangs out into the streets, armed with bats, pipes, and rocks. They wouldn’t stop beating on one another until the police came.

What Reddick and Paulino didn’t know at the time was how much they had in common.

Both liked to play basketball, listen to the same rap music, and joined gangs because they couldn’t walk home safely without being bullied or attacked.

When the FBI and State Police stepped up pressure on local gangs four years ago, they were arrested. Reddick, now 23, spent a year in federal prison for selling heroin; Paulino, 25, did close to four years on gun charges. About a year ago, the old rivals met again at Straight Ahead Ministries, a Lynn program that helps former gang members find work. The two eyed one another, sighed, and then reached out and shook hands.

“The only thing that separated us was the color of a bandana,” said Reddick, who now works with former gang bangers as a Straight Ahead case manager in Lynn.

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Photo credit:  Joanne Rathe/Globe Staff

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