Gerardo Lopez grew up in gang territory in Los Angeles, California and was just 14 years old when he joined MS-13, the notorious Salvadorian gang. Why did he join and why did he leave?
In this courageous talk, Gerardo reveals how we can help others get out and stay out of gangs.
Listen to the MP3 audio of this TEDx Talk:
Following is the full text of Gerardo’s TEDx Talk titled “I Was an MS-13 Gang Member. Here’s How I Got Out.”
You might have heard of about them in the news, they’d be called murderers, violent, destructive, law breaking and criminals.
And I can tell you that a lot of what you heard is true, because I used to be a member of MS-13.
Today I’m going to tell you why I joined the gang and how I eventually got out. But first, let me take you all the way back to the beginning.
Picture this: El Salvador, the 1980’s, a brutally violent civil war; military soldiers kicking in front doors in the middle of the night; kids hiding shaking underneath their beds as they heard the sounds of boots approaching; mothers laying and puddles are all blood watching their children get taken away and forced to join the war.