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Portrait of Rocko

Rocko was a member from the Geraghty Loma Gang, also known as the Rockwood Street Rascals, of which he was a affiliate for at least twenty years. He was born in Los Angeles, lived in East LA, and was proud to be of Mexican descent.

Rocko graduated from the Monte Garfield High School (bulldogs) and he hated Roosevelt High School, even though the picture was taken in the Roosevelt territory. When he played football, he was a defensive end. He said “football was fun and I did really good playing football.”

Rocko said life wasn’t too bad in East LA and “it’s up to you what decisions you going to make. Bad or good. Pretty simple. You can’t be in the gray or you going to be in trouble in life.”

The location where I made the photo was Boyle Heights, which was adjacent to the notorious East Los Angeles. Rocko described being from the gang world, “if you’re from there, it’s the real deal because there’s about fifteen notorious, big, prison gangs in a little hole in the wall” neighborhood.

Rocko noted that San Gabriel Valley had maybe three or four gangs and the area of San Gabriel Valley was about “twenty times bigger than East LA.” He also noted that San Fernando Valley had four or five gangs and was about “five times bigger than East Los Angeles”.

Rocko noted that with East LA having fourteen or fifteen gangs, “you need to think about how bad it is. It’s like you’re incarcerated in your own little three or four block span. It’s pretty sad for the rest of your life, all because you chose to be a gang member.”

Rocko believed that each person made their own choices in life. However, he felt that one of the biggest problems an individual faced was due to “a bad character defect” many people demonstrated which he called “people-pleasing.” In the case of many people he knew, “that characteristic and bad decision led people to become a gang member for the rest of their lives.”

Rocko felt that consensus decision making (“people pleasing”) was “a bad characteristic that carries in human beings. It always seems to get you in trouble for one reason or another.”

Rocko seemed to want to talk more about his lifestyle but had to jump on a bus. He left me with some kind words, “…and with that, God bless this young lady and she’s doing a good deed and Hallelujah.”

I don’t think what I’m doing is a good deed, but maybe listening to people stories and putting them to words is…I don’t know. I guess that’s something I have to think about.

Image Credits: Bat-Ami Gordin ©2017 all rights reserved. Credit if you use it, please.