Former L.A. gang members try to reach gang members in Rochester

[anvplayer video=”5190872″ station=”998131″]

ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Two former L.A. gang members are using their stories to try and make a difference in the City of Rochester. They’re hoping their experiences and journey out of their gangs will serve as an inspiration to local gang members considering a different path. 

“The same thing that is happening in Rochester is happening in L.A. — the fentanyl, the gangs, the drugs, the violence,” Richard Cabral told a crowd of people at St. Michael’s Church on Saturday. “A child that is loved and nurtured and told that he is loved, he’s not going to want to be on the streets with gang members, drug dealers,” Cabral says. “My introduction to gangs just to touch on it a bit was the absence of a father and mother, that void of love.”

Jose Arellano got into a gang in L.A. because it was the family business.

“All my life I had lived like that, I was a gang member. I grew up like that. My mother was a gang member, my uncles were gang members, cousins were gang members,” he tells News10NBC.

Both Cabral and Arellano are now part of Homeboy Industries, the largest gang rehabilitation and re-entry program in the country. 

“When you open those doors, you’re telling yourself that everything that you have been doing up until this point was a lie,” Arellano says. “You have to really understand that, right, because this is the change that you want. So you have to be in full acceptance that this gang life — that I thought was my everything — and prison and dying for the hommies is actually a lie. And that’s a hard truth to take, but that’s the only way for complete transformation.”

It’s a message that Cabral and Arellano hope will resonate with gang members here in Rochester.

“The things we go through and the things we do aren’t who we are. And I’m hope in the flesh. I was able to come from all that, transform my life, and to inhabit the truth in my life and be who I was always meant to be,” Arellano says. 

Homeboy Industries is working with Father Daniel Ruiz at St. Michael’s Church.

“I have great admiration for who they are, who they have become, what they do,” says Father Ruiz. “If our desire to help and their knowledge of how to help come together, I think we can make something happen here.”