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March 26th, 2010
11:15 AM ET

Photo Gallery: Hollenbeck, five years later

Program Note: Don't miss our AC360° special investigation, "Gangs of Hollenbeck," Friday at 11 p.m. ET and Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

AC360°

Five years ago we spent months talking to police and gang members while reporting in the Hollenbeck division of Los Angeles. It’s a place where thousands of young men and women were – and still are – members of gangs.

There is a long history of gangs in Hollenbeck, some current gang members have grandfathers who were once involved in La Vida Loca, “the crazy life.” Since then, gang killings have dropped in Los Angeles, and we wanted to return to Hollenbeck to see what’s happening there now.

We tracked down some of the gang members we talked to five years ago, and re-connected with cops and social workers who are trying to reduce the strength of gangs in the neighborhood.

Take a look at this photo gallery and learn more about the situation in Hollenbeck.


CNN’s Anderson Cooper interviews Milton Bueno in a patio area where his 20 year old son Steven was killed in a drive by shooting in 2009.


LAPD detective Dewaine Fields explains to Anderson Cooper that witness intimidation, a code of silence, and fear of retaliation is a common dilemma that prevents cops from solving thirty percent of the gang related killings in Hollenbeck.


Richard Moya, a former gang member explains to CNN’s Anderson Cooper how he survived being shot six times during his twenty years in a gang.

FULL POST


Filed under: 360° Radar • Hollenbeck • Homicide in Hollenbeck
March 26th, 2010
11:14 AM ET

In memory of my beloved brothers Ronald Brock and Angel Candia

Program Note: Don't miss our AC360° special investigation, "Gangs of Hollenbeck," Friday at 11 p.m. ET and Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Adela's brother, Angel Candia.

Adela's brother, Angel Candia.
Adela's brother, Ronald Brock.

Adela's brother, Ronald Brock.

Adela Brock

A little over eight years ago, I never envisioned that my family and I would experience such a tragedy. It wasn’t until those two unforgettable nights where I felt that life had proven me wrong because we tend to grow up thinking that our family will always be with us. Everything inside me had shut down and it felt like a part of me had died with each tragedy that occurred.

I was lost but I had only a moment to feel the grief for I knew that my mother was in need of me. I needed to emotionally support her because for a few years it felt like I had lost her too. My mother grew increasingly depressed and had disconnected herself from the world. It was up to me to guide her and help her carry on.

Adela Brock.

Adela Brock.

There were many times when I wanted to give up and disappear from it all, but I reminded myself that my mother did not ask for this. Filled with anger and confusion, I could not let her see that I was slowly falling apart. I needed to be strong for her. I wanted my mother back.

It has been eight years since I have seen Angel and Ronny but I always carry that memory of them smiling back at me as I drift away. To most people in the world Angel was just a gang member and Ronny was just a Marine but to me, they were my brothers. They were the ones who helped raise me, provided me with guidance and stepped in as male role models. They had a side to them that most people didn’t know or wouldn’t even notice. They were gentle at heart and very family oriented. I know this because they contributed to making me into the person I am today. They helped guide me onto the right path and I know it’s up to me to continue it on my own.

I recently graduated from California State University, Los Angeles with a degree in Health and Human Services. I plan to continue my education and help those who are in need of emotional and psychological support as a tribute to those who have come to the aid of my family during difficult times.

Soledad Brock with her two sons, Ronald Brock and Angel  Candia.

Soledad Brock with her two sons, Ronald Brock and Angel Candia.

My mother grew to be a strong woman and we continue to support each other. We no longer take moments with one another for granted and we live each day as if it were our last. I want my mother to know just how thankful I am for her tremendous impact on my life.

Though these past years have been difficult, she has never let me down and that makes her the greatest mother in the world. As I continue to go through this journey in life, I will always think of Angel and Ronny and carry them with me. I don’t believe I could ever let my brothers go because I know in my heart, they never truly left but what I do believe is that one day, we’ll all get to hold each other again and letting go will not be an option this time. I have developed a phrase that serves to give me strength on the days I think of them and feel lost: They were introduced into our world for only a moment but we’ll soon be welcomed into theirs forever.

Tragedy occurs in this world everyday and my message to everyone involved is that you’re not alone. No matter how we deal or grieve in these situations, there’s hope left in all of us that we will continue to find the strength within to reach our fullest potential while still keeping their memory alive.

I hope you and your loved ones find the same strength as my mother and I have discovered to live a long and peaceful life together.


Filed under: Hollenbeck • Homicide in Hollenbeck
March 25th, 2010
11:37 PM ET

Gangs of Hollenbeck, five years later

Program Note: Don't miss an AC360° special investigation, "Gangs of Hollenbeck," this Friday at 11 p.m. ET and Saturday and Sunday at 8 p.m. ET.

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

Five years ago we spent months talking to police and gang members while reporting in the Hollenbeck division of Los Angeles. It’s a place where thousands of young men and women were – and still are – members of gangs.

There is a long history of gangs in Hollenbeck, some current gang members have grandfathers who were once gangsters themselves. Since then, gang killings have dropped in Los Angeles, and we wanted to return to Hollenbeck to see what’s happening there now.

We tracked down some of the gang members we talked to five years ago, and re-connected with cops and social workers who are trying to reduce the strength of gangs in the neighborhood.

But even though killings are down, we found that the code of silence is still strong in Hollenbeck, and it’s letting people get away with murder.

Police can only do so much to solve crimes, they need citizens to come forward and report what they’ve seen and what they’ve heard. Too often that doesn’t happen in Hollenbeck.

FULL POST

March 12th, 2010
11:34 PM ET

Homicide in Hollenbeck: Helping gang members break away

Father Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homebody Industries.

Father Gregory Boyle is the founder of Homebody Industries.

Stan Wilson
CNN Producer

In Hollenbeck, breaking away from the gang life can be more difficult than getting into it. But, there is treatment available. At Homeboy Industries, thousands of troubled young men and woman have made that transition out of gang life.

The agency was founded by Father Gregory Boyle, a Catholic priest. It provides counseling, job training, and also free tattoo removal. To broaden his outreach, Boyle recently moved into a centralized location near downtown Los Angeles and opened a full service restaurant and bakery.

Instead of demonizing gangsters, Father Boyle embraces them, regardless of their past. He says it has allowed him to reach out to more young people at risk. “This place is soaked with a sense of redemption,” said Boyle. “I have several of them who, not that you write off but, in your head you toy with the idea that I’m not sure he’s ever going to be able to steer this thing in another direction and low and behold they do.”

FULL POST


Filed under: Hollenbeck • Homicide in Hollenbeck
March 12th, 2010
01:08 PM ET

Homicide in Hollenbeck: Breaking the cycle of gang life

Stan Wilson
CNN Producer

Enrique “Kiki” Frutis, 33, is about to take the biggest step of his life away from the only lifestyle he has known. He has been a member of one of the most notorious street gangs in Hollenbeck. Kiki was 14 when he joined a gang - beaten up by fellow gang members. It's a common initiation meant to test loyalty and give new members a taste of what gang life is all about.

When we first met Kiki five years ago, he was the hardest of the hard-core…his bragging, his brash certainty about life in a gang–he was deep in it. Kiki made a powerful impression. If a fellow gang member was killed, he said that gang members would take the law into their own hands. “The cops, they got so, so many murders on their hand, I mean, we'd rather take our own actions”, he said in a 2004 interview. By the age of 26, he had been shot three times.

Kiki got tired of being asked, “Where are you from?” by rival gang members so he had “The Fence” tattooed prominently on the back of his shaved head. Though he joined the gang for a sense of belonging, after years of falling into the cycle of violence, Kiki often found himself alone, he told Anderson Cooper in 2004.

Twenty years later, most of his friends are now in prison or dead, he said. Last September, Kiki was released from prison after serving time for a parole violation. In prison, he told CNN that after 20 years in the gang life, he wanted out. But, he’s finding that getting out is much harder than getting in.

As he arrived at Homeboy Industries, last February, the city’s largest gang intervention agency, Kiki began the long process of removing the tattoos that once told his story of being in the gang. “I feel good, trying to get my life back together. You know. I got to take one day at a time, I guess. I’m making the first step,” he said.

Father Gregory Boyle, the founder of Homeboy Industries, has known Kiki for two decades. “You think Kiki has woken up to the reality of gang life?, asked CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “I would say in terms of the gang issue, yeah. Everybody has that moment where they say I’m tired of being tired. That’s pretty much where he’s been,” said Boyle.

In Hollenbeck, surviving beyond the age of 30 is already a remarkable statistic for hard core gang members like Kiki.

“Are you hopeful about him?, asked Cooper. “Yeah, I mean, I think he’s got the right attitude. Sometimes people have to hit rock bottom but his head is in the right place right now and that’s good.” He’s struggling still but I don’t think he’s struggling with the gang part but not everybody who walks through the door is ready and he hasn’t always been ready but I would say he is now. That’s why I’m going to hire him,” said Boyle.

Kiki will soon have a job with Homeboy Industries because Father Greg Boyle is giving him a chance for a new life in Hollenbeck.


Filed under: Hollenbeck
March 11th, 2010
11:11 AM ET

Video: Gang member's death explored

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

Program Note: Five years ago we reported on gang violence in the Los Angeles community of Hollenbeck. This week, all week, we follow up on the neighborhood. Through the eyes of cops, criminals and crusaders, we witness the corrosive effects of violence and what's being done to prevent it. We take you inside the investigations of homicides as they unfold in a community where 30 percent of all killings remain unsolved. Tune in tonight at 10 p.m. ET.


Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Hollenbeck
March 10th, 2010
02:20 PM ET

Photo Gallery: Bearing witness to hurt in Hollenbeck

Editor's Note: This week we're reporting on the impact of gang violence on a community in Los Angeles called Hollenbeck. We were here five years ago talking to cops, criminals and crusaders about what the violence that plagued the neighborhood. We decided to go back, to follow up on what's changed and the progress that's been made to improve the situation. Take a look at these behind-the-scenes photos.

Former gang member Richard Moya talks to CNN’s Anderson Cooper about the cycle of gang violence in the Hollenbeck community of Los Angeles

The Hollenbeck community is a fifteen square mile area east of downtown Los Angeles. There are 34 gangs here with an estimated 6,800 members.

Angel Candia and his younger brother Ronald Brock were killed in a gang related shooting in the same year. Police believe Ronald was killed in a case of mistaken identity. Ronald was a U.S. Marine. Angel was a gang member.

Soledad Brock poses with her two sons Ronald Brock and Angel Candia. Ronald was about to deploy overseas when he was fatally wounded in a gang related shooting.

Private First Class Ronald Brock


Filed under: 360° Radar • Hollenbeck
March 10th, 2010
10:56 AM ET

Video: Return to Hollenbeck

Anderson Cooper | BIO
AC360° Anchor

CNN's Anderson Cooper reports that seven years after the deaths of a Marine and his brother, no one is held accountable.


Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Hollenbeck
March 5th, 2010
10:24 PM ET

Photo Gallery: Homicide in Hollenbeck: Five Nights, Five Years Later

AC360°

Gang violence can be viewed as a form of domestic terrorism. It is a growing problem in both large and small cities where armed gangs traumatize entire communities. In Los Angeles, the nation's gang capital, more than 30 gangs fight for turf in a single police district - Hollenbeck. Anderson Cooper first reported on the gang violence in Hollenbeck five years ago. Every day next week Anderson reports on what's changed over the past five years.

Former gang member Richard Moya talks about the inner workings of gang life. Moya has been shot six times in gang related violence.

FULL POST


Filed under: Anderson Cooper • Crime • Hollenbeck