Ex-member’s view of life in the gang
Carol Feineman (Lincoln News Messenger) | April 4, 2012
Editor’s note: The 17-year-old’s identity is not being revealed because of possible retaliation.
Like many other Lincoln High School students, John Doe likes sports, especially basketball.
But the 17-year-old didn’t always care about sports. For four years, starting at age 12, John was in a Lincoln gang. And his focus then wasn’t making baskets but rather on joining his gang members in fights.
“It wasn’t the kind of things that a normal teenager would do,” John said.
But, as a 12-year-old, John didn’t feel like he fit into any social group.
He joined a gang because members promised they would be like a family and protect the new recruits.
“The gang brought kids together and told us they’d look after us,” John said.
That promise was short-lived, according to John.
“At the beginning, you feel like you fit in,” John said. “Toward the end, it turns out worse and you get involved in fights. We would leave school for fights. It makes you more disrespectful to society.”
While the Lincoln Police Department’s Lt. Dave Ibarra told The News Messenger that there is little gang activity at Lincoln High School, John has a different view.
“The gangs at Lincoln High are not as much as in the Bay Area,” John said, “but a quarter of the kids here are in gangs. That’s a lot for a small town.”
And gang members from out of town visit their friends in Lincoln, he added.
The high school gang members are both Hispanic and white, according to John.
And while Lt. Ibarra told The News Messenger that Lincoln gang members range in age from 12 to late 20s, John said the members “calling the shots” are in their 30s and 40s.
John didn’t want to talk specifically about the fights he was in, except to say that he “probably hurt people physically and emotionally.”
“The No. 1 thing I remember from being in the gang is all the fights and drama of being in it,” John said.
What kept him in the gang for four years, John said, was peer pressure.
“There were times when I thought, ‘What am I doing here?’ My friends would say this is what you want,” John said. “The peer pressure kept me there.”
He wouldn’t listen to his parents’ about his lifestyle choice.
“My parents cared for me but I stayed away from home and avoided my parents,” John explained. “I thought I’m a teenager and I didn’t understand they had also been my age at one time.”
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Tags: ex-gang member, Lincoln High School, sports