Gangs Social Justice Shorts

3 Social Justice Shorts



The AP released a story on my friend Alex Sanchez, a former Mara Salvatrucha (MS 13) gangster who, at 37, is the executive director of Homies Unidos, a gang prevention and intervention program—which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary—that has one branch in the Pico Union area of Los Angeles, another branch in El Salvador.

There is a growing list of former LA gang members who have turned their lives around and decided to give back to the community by working in gang intervention. Some are effective. Others, not so much. But Alex is the real deal.

The AP’s E.J. Tamara has done a nice piece on him in the space she had. In truth, his story is eventful enough it should probably be told at book length. In the meantime, the AP article is a good read on our hometown guy.

Here’s how it opens:

Far from his son and surrounded in jail
by gang members with no future, Alex Sanchez decided to change his life.

At 23 and serving his third sentence, he decided to turn his back on the gang life that he had led since he was 14, which had only brought him misery.

With a past of crime and violence behind him, he is now executive director of Homies Unidos, a nonprofit organization that works to rescue kids from gangs in Los Angeles and his native El Salvador.

Sanchez, 37, has helped form a truce between rival gangs, has testified as an expert in legal cases, lobbies for better intervention and prevention programs and talks to youths about the somber future gangs offer…..


This is a bit of an odd case, but yesterday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals at least had the good sense to…well…have some good sense.

Here’s how the SF Chron opens
their story on the matter:

Police do not need to get a warrant in the middle of armed standoffs before arresting suspects, a federal appeals court ruled Wednesday.

(Really???? You think????)

Here’s the underlying story according to

One night in October 1999, A guy named Stephen Fisher drank way too many beers as he watched the World Series—while also cleaning his guns. (Never a good combo.) Many beers later, he became irritable at what he deemed to be loud music in a nearby apartment and approached a security guard at at his San Jose apartment complex, to complain about it. The guard thought he saw that Fisher was carrying a rifle. He was also slurring his words and, according to the guard, described his neighbors as vampires.

Spooked at Fisher’s erratic behavior, the guard called the police. The cops came and tried engage him in conversation. Fisher threatened to shoot rather than chat. A 12-hour standoff ensued, and ended with Fisher surrendering without anybody getting hurt.

After he finished with his own trial, Fisher turned around and sued the city for “false arrest,” because the police didn’t take time to get a warrant in the middle of the stand-off.

After two separate judges agreed with Fisher
, the 9th Circuit said..”..UM….NO.”

(Look: I’m as rabid a defender of civil liberties as anybody, but there’s also such a thing as common sense—and exigent circumstances.)

Read the rest here.


After anybody who bothered to think about it made a very large and unhappy noises about the way LA County Probation was billing poor parents for their locked up children, probation has elected to study how other counties handle the issue.

Okay, it’s at least it’s a step, I guess.


  • People like Alex Sanchez are in such sore need in LA. I just hope he has enough connections and people working with him to stem what would otherwise turn into a gang violence surge because of the tanking economy. LA needs people like him now more than ever.

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