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How Taking Ironic Hardstyle Crew Photos Led to Me Joining a Violent East LA Street Gang

It’s hard to say how it all happened so quickly, esé.

I remember my friend Kevin pulling out his phone to take a picture. I remember someone saying “What pose should we do?” But now, all I truly remember is the blood oath I swore to my brothers in Westblock Hombres Cruciales.

I know that we wanted to look hard. I know that we thought being ironically tough was a good way to make fun of male fragility. I did not know my initiation would include my criminal involvement with a random, vicious assault on a member of the public taking a stroll in a public park.

But hey, you gotta do what you gotta do for the crew.

It’s weird honestly it all seemed so innocent at first. A hardstyle pic here, a #squad or #gang comment there. But then everything just got so real.

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At first, I didn’t like my new life. Putting on 30 pounds of muscle and adopting a pitbull named Lucifer wasn’t bad — I’ve been meaning to get back into shape. But the overall quality of tattoos that my new group of friends pressured me into getting is almost too much to bear. I’ve really been trying to map out all my interconnected pieces but all of sudden these guys are throwing numerous, sporadic catholic crosses on me with the numbers 187 on them.

Also, there is so much drama in the group.

I kinda wanted us to be a gang for equality, you know? I wanted to challenge what it meant to be in a violent East LA street gang. Like, couldn’t we beat pedophiles with ball pein hammers instead of just kinda, you know, everyone? Or maybe the next time we use pliers to pull the eyelids off of a bookie who refused to give us a cut while he lets out blood-curdling screams of horror we could make it a bookie who also posted some problematic stuff on Twitter?

I feel like these are the kinds of issues that wouldn’t come up as often if El Jefe Cruciales would heed my advice and create a system where gang members voted on relevant issues on a semimonthly basis. Or, to help increase those who feel their concerns in the group are not being heard, create some sort of anonymous suggestion box? Because I feel like I’m not being heard — and I’m not the only one.

Anyway, I have to get back to the guys.

Sincerely yours,

-Inconformista Blanco