Teenager Talks About Gang Life
Jennifer Squires (Watsonville Patch) | October 25, 2012
Gang leaders are “fighting for the hearts, minds and souls of our youth,” Watsonville Police Chief Manny Solano told the crowd of participants at Wednesday’s Youth Violence Prevention Planning Summit in Live Oak.
Moments later, a 16-year-old who grew up in Santa Cruz’s Beach Flats neighborhod took the microphone to explain how that can happen.
Jose Xilonzochilt, who now plays on Aztecas, a unique soccer program in Watsonville that puts former gang members on the same team, said he fell into the gang lifestyle at age 11 but the foundation was lain years before.
He was 4 when he started playing soccer with boys in his neighborhood, “not knowing they would be my homeboys in the future.” The park they played in became their turf and, when he was 11, other boys fought an outside group to stay out of the park.
Tags: Aztecas, Beach Flats, Jose Xilonzochilt, Santa Cruz, soccer, Watsonville, Youth Violence Prevention Planning Summit