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Gangs of the East Village: Seeking Brotherhood and Belonging

Earlier this week, Jose “Cochise” Quiles recounted his time as a member of the Satan’s Sinners Nomads, and told The Local that gangs such as the Bloods, Latin Kings, and Money Boys are still very much prevalent in the neighborhood.

Today, we hear more about the problem from a few of the people who are fighting it at Henry Street Settlement and the Boys’ Club of New York’s Harriman Clubhouse, on East 10th Street. They join others like Aida Salgado and the D.A.’s office in promoting alternatives to street violence.

Dante Lawson, assistant group leader at Grand Street Settlement, says he sees gang activity on an almost daily basis. In this video, he explains why he has resisted the temptation to join his own family members in some of the neighborhood’s many “sets.”

Gangs of the East Village: Life as a Satan’s Sinners Nomad

Last Saturday, Jose Quiles spoke to a group of students at P.S./M.S. 34 on East 12th Street. Some were the age that he was when he first entered the gang world.

Responding to a recent spate of violence, Rick Del Rio, the senior pastor at Abounding Grace Ministries, had invited the man many in the neighborhood know as Cochise to a basketball tournament, barbecue, and youth outreach session, to speak about his rough-and-tumble life on the Lower East Side.

Mr. Quiles was born on St. Marks Place in 1961. He joined his first gang at the age of 13 and then in 1988, formed one of his own: the Satan’s Sinners Nomads. After attempting to kill two of his fellow gang members in 1993, he served 18 years in prison. At the Clinton Correctional Facility in Dannemora, N.Y., he began counseling gang members; he was released in January and now, as a resident of Campos Plaza, hopes to steer at-risk youth away from what he said was an assortment of gangs in the neighborhood, including the Bloods, Money Boys, and Latin Kings. Read more…