EUGENE, Ore. — Lane County will hold its second gang symposium at the end of April. County leaders say January’s symposium was about education, but this month it’s about devising a plan of action to crack down on gang activity.
“You know I was driving down the street and this windshield busts open from a bullet,” said David Heisser, former gang member.
The memory of gang violence is fresh for Heisser; growing up in his neighborhood in Compton, California. Joining a gang was just what was normal, a rite of passage.
“I was listening to my buddies telling me we’re going to go out and shoot at night time,” said Heisser.
Once you’re in, it can be hard to get out.
“The first time I realized that it really wasn’t what my life style was, the deaths. Walking and seeing people laying sprawled out early in the morning, or 10 o’clock in the morning, dead,” said Heisser.
Now free from that life, Heisser hopes he can share his experience with kids and keep them from joining a gang. He says the upcoming symposium is the perfect opportunity.
“Lane County, Springfield hasn’t gave up on these kids. And that was the most important thing, the thing that excited me that they are trying to make a connection with this problem with gangs,” said Heisser.
“The same reasons why someone would join a gang in LA or New York are the same reasons why someone would join a gang in Lane County; to be included, lack of family involvement, lack of belonging, there are a variety of reasons. So if we can identity what those are and educate people, then we can prevent kids from even thinking of gangs as an option,” said Jason Davis, Lane County Spokesman.
The goal of the upcoming symposium is to reach out to parents, teachers, kids and law enforcement. Heisser feels this symposium will give the kids what they need: Direction.
“You can change your life and have a goal to life, have a goal just have a goal,” said Heisser.
The gang symposium is on Saturday, April 27. It’s free and lunch will be provided.
Click here to register.