Archive for the ‘Intervention’ Category

Sep. 28 Film Screening of “Fruits of War”

Monday, September 17th, 2012

 The journey of the criminalized immigrants

“Fruits of War” will take you into the personal lives of four young men who lived the the trauma of war in El Salvador, the discrimination in the streets of Los Angeles, the violence of gangs, the deportation to their country they did not longer remember and the continued criminalization that will forever keep them from living normal lives. Join Us September 28, 2012 at Pico Youth and Family Center 715 Pico Blvd, Santa Monica, CA 90405 from 6:00-9:00PM to hear that amidst all the violence and desperation a new hope for peace has risen. The panel discussion after the film will report back on the delegation that went to El Salvador to observe the 5 month long peace truce between the gangs that has reduce violence significantly.

Moderator: Oscar DeLaTorre (PYFC Executive Director)
Panelist include:
Paule Cruz-Katash (L.A. Humane Relations Comission)
Aquil Basher (Maximum Force Enterprices)
Henrique Hurtado (Aztecs Rising)
Alex Sanchez(Homies Unidos)

Food and drinks will be available for a donation.

Homies Unidos continues their commitment to help our youth in the Central American Communities of Pico Union, Westlake and Koreatown. We believe that all youth have the right to live in their communities free of violence. Be part of the empowerment of our inner city youth to brake through the chains of violence into productive advocates of peace. Make your donation: homiesunidos.org/donate

After 14 years working in these communities we now need your help. Current economic struggles have forced us to cut down on services. We are asking for your economic help to continue our mission to end violence and promote peace in our communities through gang prevention; the promotion of human rights in immigrant communities and the empowerment of youth and families in El Salvador and Los Angeles to achieve their full potential in a just, safe and healthy society.

Facebook Invite: Fruits of War

  Pico Unouth and Family Center Screening

 Clip of “Fruits of War”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nKq0wGLoQGo&feature=player_embedded

****Please keep in mind that Homies Unidos needs your monetary support to keep doing this important work****, Please donate!!!!!

SUPPORT MOUNTS FOR SALVADORAN GANG TRUCE

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012

mobilizeSUPPORT MOUNTS FOR SALVADORAN GANG TRUCE
BY TOM HAYDEN

Longtime gang peace process advocates in Los Angeles announced new support on Memorial Day for the 11-week truce called by incarcerated Mara Salvatrucha and 18th Street gang leaders which has sharply reduced homicides in El Salvador

An estimated 700 lives have been saved since March as homicide rates have fallen from 14-15 to 4-5 per day, or a 65 percent reduction. For the first time in decades, polling shows Salvadoran public opinion defining poverty reduction as their first priority, ahead of sweeps and mass detention. The truce, which is supported by Salvadoran president Mauricio Funes, began Mar. 9 when 30 truce leaders were transferred from a super-max prison to high-security facilities where they were permitted contacts with family and friends. The transfer was approved by the Salvadoran Minister of Justice and Security David Munguia. On March 20, it was confirmed that mediation efforts were being led Raul Mijango, a former guerrilla commandante and legislator, and the head chaplain of the armed forces and police, Bishop Fabio Colindres.

As LA-based peace advocates gathered Monday at La Placita church on Olvera Street, the secretary-general of the Organization of American States [OAS] was set to travel on a supportive visit to El Salvador, to be followed by United Nations and European Union representatives.

A new “Transitional Advisory Group in Support of the Peace Process in El Salvador” was announced at the LA press conference. The twenty-member committee includes a new official presence  in gang peace efforts, Paula Cruz Takash, president of the Los Angeles Human Relations Commission, and a cross-section of leaders with deep roots in past gang peace efforts, including the author Luis Rodriguez and his wife Trini of the Tia Chucha Cultural Center, Aquil Basheer and “Niko” of Maximum Force Enterprise, Aqeela Sherrells of the original Watts truce, Enrique Hurtado of Aztecs Rising, Angela Sambrano of CARACEN, Fr. Michael Kennedy of the Jesuit Restorative Justice Initiative, Fr. Gregory Boyle of Homeboy Industries, Hector Verdugo, also of Homeboy, and Javier Stauring of the LA Archdiocese.  Chairing the press conference was Silvia Beltran, former director of Homies Unidos and currently on the staff of the LA City Council. Also speaking were a Salvadoran student at Cal State Northridge, Elvira Padilla, and a sister of one of the incarcerated men, Mayra Rivas.

The new transnational committee is represented in Washington DC by Luis Cardona and Carmen Perez of the Gathering for Justice [founded by Harry Belafonte] and Juan Pacheco, director of Barrios Unidos.

The purposes of the transnational committee are to work for the safety of those involved in the Salvadoran truce, doing an inventory of the gang members specific needs, and building support and resources for the community-led process. Needs identified so far include: new mattresses for family visits, mental and medical health services, sentence reductions for good conduct, and vocational training in prison with job placement upon release. The MS and 18th Street representatives also call on the army and police to control and prevent ongoing human rights violations, and protect the safety of the peace process  Female gang members are demanding the involvement of women’s and family service organizations to address their specific needs.

Besides initiating the truce, the gang leaders so far have defined schools as “safe zones”, ordered the end of  forced recruitment of young people, and suspend criminal activities and  attacks on each other.

Luis Rodriguez and Aqeela Sherrells spoke passionately and at length about the history of past peace process efforts in Watts, East Los Angeles, and among deported gang members in El Salvador. “Peace comes from the heart of people, from a rejection of violence by the people, and when it comes from the ground up we must stand with them”, Rodriguez began. “This has happened before, has been sabotaged before, and failed before for lack of resources and respect, but out of every failure there rise new peace warriors.” Rodriguez said he sees “peace surging again, and we have to learn the lesson that peace doesn’t come from institutions, peace doesn’t come from peaceful people, peace can come in the end from the people who began the violence, the best sometimes can come from the worst.”

Sherrells recalled that 20,000 died in LA’s gang wars between Crips and Bloods before the 1992 truce. “It was a war zone, but we created a culture of peace on the streets”, he said,  attributing ten percent of the violence reduction to policing. “Gangs are not inherently negative, do not come like outside aliens, but arise among our sons and daughters, and they need healing, a public health approach, a community-based approach.” He pointed out that gang homicides have continued to fall in Los Angeles even while poverty rates have been climbing. “We love you”, he declared to the largely-immigrant gathering. Bashir, an ex-Panther, added that “we have to unify or die.”

In the most dramatic moment of the day, Homies Unidos leader Alex Sanchez spoke for the first time in public since his June 2009 federal indictment on gang conspiracy charges. Los Angeles police anti-gang officers and prosecutors have charged Sanchez, a former MS member, with continuing to secretly participate in the gang as a so-called “shot caller.” Sanchez and his many supporters argue that a key role in violence reduction can be played by respected former gang members when they mediate conflicts and create alternatives to the violent gang life. But any such “association” is suspect to law enforcement and often prohibited by anti-gang laws and regulations.

Sanchez was arrested by the LAPD and faced deportation over a decade ago, but all charges were dropped and a federal immigration judge granted Sanchez political asylum. He was arrested again in 2009, charged with multiple conspiracies,. He was granted bail in 2010 after representatives of the LAPD and FBI were unable to prove in federal court that he would be a social danger if released. His trial now is set for next June.

Imprisoned Salvadoran gang members and their families,  as well as Salvadoran officials have made phone requests for Sanchez to intervene as a mediator and coalition-builder on behalf of the fragile process. The irony is that Sanchez is prohibited from communicating with any MS members except in the office of his Los Angeles public defender, Amy Jacks. Despite the technical difficulties, Sanchez seemed energized on Sunday by the opportunity to act positively in a context painfully familiar to him, after two years of defending himself in numerous court appearances. On this Memorial Day, he called out the names of Homies Unidos members killed in El Salvador – Hector, Ringo, Bullet, and Smoky, among others – saying, “this is a baton thrown out to us, and it is our duty to pick it up. ”

Twenty years of organizing in Los Angeles have yielded  two models which can be useful for El Salvador, Sanchez said. The first, peace work in the streets and prisons by former gang members like Sanchez, is already adopted and funded in LA as an official “gang prevention and intervention model”, endorsed as well by the LAPD after years of debate. Since the intervention model was developed in part from the experience of Salvadoran gang members it already is “indigenous”, not a foreign model run by government bureaucrats, Peace Corps-style.

Second and equally important, Sanchez and others stressed, is the urgent need for rehabilitation, training and jobs modeled at Homeboy Industries under the inspiration of Fr. Boyle, who has been involved in the Salvadoran community for years. At Homeboy, where the motto is “nothing stops a bullet like a job”, young homeboys and homegirls are counseled, trained and directly employed by the agency, the largest of its kind in the US.

Homeboy staff are expected to confer directly with Salvadoran parties, private investors and government agencies interested in the model of such direct employment. They will stress that gang violence reduction is the key to attracting foreign investment to the besieged country, and jobs the key to violence reduction – a virtuous circle in place of a vicious one.

Gang rappers and poets in El Salvador have long described themselves as the fruits of the war – “las fruitas de la guerra.” There now is the possibility of a great reversal, with gang members, their families and all of El Salvador realizing the fruits of peace. #

Press Release:El Salvador ‘s Two Biggest Gangs Call A Truce

Monday, May 28th, 2012
WHAT: El Salvador ‘s Two Biggest Gangs Call A Truce

Press Package FINAL_TAPPES_Press_Package

WHEN: Monday May 28th, 2012 at 10:00 A.M.
WHERE: La Placita Olvera

535 North Main Street

Los Angeles, CA 90012

WHO:

The Transnational
Advisory Group in Support of the Peace Process In El Salvador

International community Base Organizations, Clergy, Gang Interventionist, individuals have come together in support of the peace process, Bishop Fabio Colindres and Former El Salvador Congressman Raul Mijango have mediated truce with two of the El Salvador biggest gangs; MS13 and 18th Street gangs.

Speakers include:
Father Estrada- Our Lady Queen of the Angeles – La Placita  Olvera
Father Michael Kennedy-Restorative Justice

Angela Sambrano, Board Member, Centro Cultural Techantit and CARECEN L.A.

Hector Verdugo- Associate Executive Director, Homeboy Industries

Luis Rodriguez-Activist and author of “Always Running Gang Days in L.A.”

Aqeela Sherrills-Director of Resources for Human Development California

Paule Cruz Takash, City of Los Angeles Human Relations Commission

Aquil Basheer-Executive Director, Maximum Force Enterprises

Enrique Hurtado-Executive Director, Aztecs Rising

Alex Sanchez- Executive Director, Homies Unidos

Mario Matute-Secretario general Del Movimiento Social Y Político De Salvadoreños En   El Exterior.M.P.I.

WHY: The 1992 El Salvador Peace Accords ended a devastating decade long civil war. Signed between El Salvador’s Armed Forces and the FMLN guerrilla fighters, the country looked forward to peace, rebuilding and prospering.  Unfortunately, no one could predict the devastating impact that mass deportation of people from the U.S. to El Salvador would have on the transnational community. El Salvador did not have the social or economic infrastructure to help people transition from war time to peace time nor did it have the resources to help recently arrived deportees. The disenfranchisement of young people and gang-identified youth has resulted in  high levels of crime, growth of gangs, and unemployment.

This March, two of the largest gangs in El Salvador called a truce. They have acknowledged all the pain they have
brought on the population and themselves and have accepted responsibility. The Peace Process has reduced violence by 65% throughout El Salvador. This effort is not one sided or a simple task. With support of church communities, government and the civilian population, we can create a strategy that is inclusive of all. All in the name of peace.  The Transnational Advisory Group in Support of the Peace Process In El Salvador has formed to be an international observer to this process, to assure the safety of all involved and to bring together resources to help in the short and long term goals of the peace
process.

Homies Unidos Destroying Guns to Create Angels

Friday, September 30th, 2011

Come join Homies Unidos’ Summer Activities

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

 

Field trips to the Mountains, Leo Carrillo State Park and  Soccer Games at the Home Depot

For more information please contact: Juan Esparza at 213-383-7484 or jesparza@homiesunidos.org

Our next event is:

 

DONATE and support our youth activities. Your donations will help us continue our

important and needed work in our community. Your donation is Tax deductible!!!!

 

Homies Unidos Screening of “Fruits of War”

Thursday, April 21st, 2011

Come and join Homies Unidos Saturday, April 23  6:00PM-11:00PM, as we speak about current struggles of our youth in Los Angeles and El Salvador. “Fruits of War” documents the life of four members of Homies Unidos as they embark on a journey of redemption and social justice and the struggles they face through deportation and criminalization.

Film screening starts at 7:PM sharp. Bring some food and drinks to share.
at Basswerks
5411 W. Adams (West of La Brea)
Los Angeles, CA 90016

If you cant make and would like to donate go to:
www.homiesunidos.org/donate

RSVP @ homiesunidos@homiesunidos.org or call 213-383-7484

Ceremony for our Friend Tim Smith

Tuesday, April 5th, 2011

April 5, 2011.

We will be having a indigenous ceremony for our Friend Tim Smith at El Centro Cultural Techantit on Thursday April 7th  at 6:30 AM. You Are welcomed to come.

668 S. Bonnie Brae

Los Angeles, CA 90057

Phone:  (626) 500-3604

In Alley: Between Bonnie Brae and Burlington

On March 31, 2011 Homies Unidos lost a very special friend. His name is Tim Smith, an anthropologist of Urban Studies professor at Cal State Northridge.   He was 79 years young and had so much more to give to this world. Hi life has inspired many to continue his legacy.

Eva, Tim’s wife of over 25 years said about when they meet:

“Were compatible with each other, He showed love for humanity, arts and others was what attracted her to Tim.”

He expressed his caring through the art sculptures made of stone. They were done with such love and caring and this was what he felt with everyone he met. He was a traveler; he went to Paraguay, El Salvador Philippines, Africa, and his last trip to the Middle East, Turkey he almost did not make it. His body was already weakening. Eva mentioned that in the last two months of Tim’s life. Tim’s body had taken a toll and he expressed that he was ready to go. A noble thing to say by a man who was an adventure and to someone you love, from a man that was always in a road of discovery. This was his time to go and discover we will all go but never come back to tell anyone, what we all only imagine. Tim is on that journey now.

The love for humanity and people from all races was how to stumble on to Homies Unidos. His dedication for social change was what inspired me and young men and women to fight for what was right for us in our community. He stuck through the bad times when we became under attack by LAPD officers. He went to the police station and demanded answers. Officers did not understand why this older white man was demanding answers.

Tim was able to help me deal with the stereotypes I had of all white people. I for years distrusted people that were not my color. But this white man was the one who took me back to my roots when he was the first to invite me to participate in an indigenous ceremony. I had never participated nor had any clue of what a Sweat Lodge was. I was transformed after that experience. He taught me that there good people in all races and sometimes we are our own oppressors.

Today we celebrate Tim’s departure from our world to this new road of discovery he went on. Life is an adventure and Tim lived it as one.

Forever in our thoughts,

Alex Sanchez, Homies Unidos Board Members and the Homies…..

Happy Holidays

Tuesday, December 21st, 2010

Dear Friends,

As the New Year approaches I have reflected on the past 12 years since Homies Unidos first opened its office in Los Angeles with the dream of helping youth affected by war and gang violence.  We developed programs specifically for these youth hoping that they may find empowerment in positive action, the support to transition out of gangs and a platform to address and change the inhumane treatment of the immigrant community.

We have maintained our doors open to serve over 6,500 youth and their families from the Los Angeles Pico Union’s Central American community.  What, began as a dream has become a reality and today Homies Unidos stands as a nationally recognized organization at the forefront of gang violence prevention and intervention.

As we witnessed through this last election cycle, our immigrant communities have once again become the scapegoat and trigger point for political fear tactics and gangs have been framed as the scary poster child of this debate.  Over the past two years there has been a 23% increase in suppression in our immigrant community by ICE, FBI and local law enforcement agencies, leaving countless families separated from each other and children parentless.

With the assistance of your generosity, Homies Unidos has successfully developed exceptional programs to challenge the effects of this violence. The Epiphany Project, Libertad Con Dignidad and Family Wellness programs brings together youth and their parents, affected by gang violence or deportation, to advocate for their rights. Together we helped strengthen their ability communicate and improve their family relationship to over 130 family members this year.

“Homies Unidos has helped me change my life around and has giving me the opportunity to give back to other youth, I now volunteer in organizing the Art activities and outreaching to over 15 artist so far”, Said Juan Canizales, a former graduate of our Epiphany Project program.

We are convinced that through Epiphany Project classes we our helping to create a new generation of peacemakers committed to a building a better world. The process of those transitioning into a better life is not simple; after completing our 12 week program, graduates endure a minimum of 6-10 laser tattoo removal treatments to shed the last of their former lifestyles off their bodies.

In the past year, our ongoing programs have expanded and include a youth leadership and art program as an alternative to gang activity. We have developed these programs for inner-city youth and young adults as we also embark on a campaign to bring awareness of immigration and criminal justice issues affecting our community. Th e “Hip Hop for Peace” was launched on December 7, 2010 and will continue throughout 2011 with a series of events, bringing together local artist in music and art.

In these critical times, your support will greatly help in the success of our youth. Your ongoing support allows us to continue to provide our youth and their families with the skills and tools needed to overcome the obstacles they face in our community. As a non-profit organization, we rely on the generosity and compassion of our donors, like yourself, without whom we would not have the capacity to create peace in the schools, and keep families united in the community we serve. Please join us as a partner in making 2011 a better and more successful year for Homies Unidos.

Homies Unidos wishes you have a joyful holiday season,

Sincerely,                                                                                                                   Sincerely,

Alex Sanchez                                                                                                            Troy Garity                                                                              Executive Director                                                                                                Board Chair

ACTION ALERT: JULY 7th – National Juvenile Justice Call-In Day

Tuesday, June 29th, 2010

JULY 7th – National Juvenile Justice Call-In Day

Action Alert:  July 7th is National Juvenile Justice Call-In Day—Call your Congressional Representatives and Ask Them to Make Juvenile Justice a Priority This Year!

For too long, “tough on crime” political rhetoric has resulted in juvenile justice laws that are bad for youth and that ultimately increase crime. Research has proven time and time again that there are better, more effective ways to deal with juvenile offenders, and it is time for Congress to act to improve our nation’s juvenile justice system.

Time is running out— if we don’t act now, juvenile justice reform will not happen this year!! We need you to let Congress know that voters care about juvenile justice!

Although there are many items on the agenda for Congress to do this year, three major juvenile justice initiatives remained stalled:

  • Reauthorizing the Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act (JJDPA), which is currently three years overdue for reauthorization.  The JJDPA, first enacted in 1974, promotes the use of effective community-based alternatives to detention, keeps youth out of adult facilities, reduces the disproportionate involvement of youth of color in the system, and promotes other research-driven best practices in the juvenile justice system. Call on Congress to reauthorize the bill now!
  • Increasing appropriations for juvenile justice programs, which were the only category of children’s programs that received a significant decrease in funding in the President’s proposed budget.  In order for the States to make positive changes, they must receive the federal support they need to prevent youth crime and rehabilitate juvenile offenders. We have seen a sharp decline in funding for juvenile justice programs as a whole since FY 2002. Ask Congress to preserve and increase juvenile justice appropriations for the coming fiscal year!
  • Passing the Youth PROMISE Act to promote proven, cost-effective prevention-based strategies to reduce youth crime. Under Youth PROMISE, representatives from the communities facing the greatest juvenile crime challenges will be able to develop a comprehensive plan to prevent youth crime through a coordinated prevention and intervention response.

Action item: We need your help!  On July 7th, contact your two U.S. Senators and your U.S. House Representative and ask them to make juvenile justice a priority in the 111th Congress by:

  • Reauthorizing the JJDPA;
  • Increasing juvenile justice appropriations; and
  • Passing the Youth PROMISE Act

To contact your Congressional Representative and Senators, visit http://sparkaction.org/content/national-juvenile-justice-call-day and enter your zip code.  The numbers for your representatives will appear along with talking points and a feedback form to report on the response you received.

Thank you for your help!

Download:

National Call-in Day Talking Points – 6.24.10-3

Alex Sanchez Wins Bail

Friday, January 15th, 2010

By Tom Hayden, The Nation

LOS ANGELES. Jan. 13. U.S. Judge Manuel Real granted Alex Sanchez bail after a closed ninety-minute session with law enforcement and civic officials today. The former gang member and founder of Homies Unidos is expected to be freed in ten days after posting $2 million property and sureties.

Sanchez still faces conspiracy charges with 23 others rounded up by the FBI in a government blitz using federal racketeering laws against alleged Mara Salvatrucha (MS) members. The trial is scheduled for October in Los Angeles.

A beaming Oscar Sanchez, the younger brother of Alex Sanchez, praised the ruling by Real, which he said “underlines the judge’s finding that Alex is not a danger to the community nor a flight risk. We believe he is in fact a great asset to communities like ours across the country.”

Supporters of Sanchez, organized as wearealex.org, were jubilant in many cities where pressure campaigns have been mounted. The decision was seen as a victory for gang intervention workers, many of whom have attended the LA proceedings since June.  Read more…