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Testimony – Street Gangs You can get out…

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1 Testimony – Street Gangs You can get out…

2 Collin, 25 years old, ex-member I never imagined things would go so far. I never thought I’d see my friends with serious drug problems, injured, at the hospital half dead after a really violent fight. When someone is shooting at you, all the rules change. Then you’re scared to defend your gang colours from enemy gangs. You’re scared stiff. You’re not carrying a weapon to look cool anymore – it’s to save your life. And it wasn’t cool, it was petrifying. I had to get out. I could see where I was headed, where my friends were headed. We were wasting our lives. I was ashamed, disgusted with myself. I couldn’t even look at my face in the mirror.

3 Lucie, 15 years old, ex-member It didn’t take long for me to figure out that I would have to pay back everything these guys paid for when they took me in after I ran away. They arranged for another girl from the gang, who was already working as a stripper, to take me to the club. She explained what she was doing. She said it was easy, and that she made pretty good money. Then one day they told me I would have to dance as well. That I had to pay them back! For me it was easy because I left fast, but if I’d waited longer, it would have been harder! Leaving the gang was easy – it was rebuilding my life that was the hard part. Filling the emptiness inside – that was really tough!

4 Vanier, 16 years old, active member I’ve lost a couple of my friends, to drug overdoses and murder. I don’t even know how many times I’ve had a gun pointed at my head!

5 Ursula, 15 years old, ex-member It’s dangerous to be in a gang. Nothing too bad ever happened to me, but I’ve seen some really terrible stuff. Guys getting beaten up or shot. Or else they go after their family.

6 Simon, 16 years old, active member The whole deal changed. Getting arrested, prison, assault. The longer it went, the worse it got. I used to hear about it, but I didn’t believe it. You never think things will go that far.

7 Patricia, years old, ex-member I never stripped and I never worked as a prostitute, but I had to be a runner for drug deals. I carried the drugs for them. They also used me to settle scores with guys they didn’t like. I just had to bring the guy to whatever place they told me, and they took care of the rest. It was awful. My best friend was in rehab, my boyfriend was killed in a payback deal. I ended up in a crisis centre. I felt like I had lost everything.

8 Odile, 24 years old, ex-member I had a pretty bad problem with alcohol, and problems at school, problems everywhere. My mother finally kicked me out. And then I started asking myself questions. What do I want to do? Do I want to live? Do I want to die? I had to resolve my personal problems. We had a family dinner and my parents set out all the conditions. They even threatened to put me in a youth home if they didn’t see any changes. That’s when I decided to get out. It all happened gradually. One day, I spoke to a friend in a gang and she understood me and said I could go. So I did. I just gradually quit.

9 You can get out! Don’t try to do it alone. Talk to a friend you trust or a responsible adult to help you get out. Call Tel-jeunes 1 800 263-2266 Call Jeunesse j’écoute 1 800 668-6868 Talk to the community relations officer at your neighbourhood police station: Phone: 514 280-04XX (the last two digits are the station number). For example, station 24 — 514- 280-0424 Go to a specialized resource : Sortie de secours project: 514 236-0754 Neighbourhood CLSC: 514 286-5615 Centre jeunesse de Montréal : 514 286-5615 Youth Protection Directorate: 514 593-3979 Crime Victims Assistance Centre: 514 864-1500

10 You can get out! Don’t hang around street gang members. Avoid places that attract crime, like alleyways, parks, quiet streets and parking lots. When you are walking somewhere, take main streets, commercial streets and well- lighted roads. Avoid wearing brand name clothing or carrying valuable objects or wearing anything that might associate you with a street gang.

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