Gang life is brotherhood beyond drugs and guns says one member - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Gang life is brotherhood beyond drugs and guns says one member

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

"It's till death do you part, just like a marriage," said a Midlands gang member who does not want to be identified.

In June 1999, a decision was made that would shape the rest of his life.

"It's not about those colors and them guns and hurting each other," he said.

For him, joining was like a privilege. He says it was all about love.
    
"It was just so much love there, so much understanding," he said. "Friends that was going to be there for you. Stability outside the household I stayed in."

He says violence and drug dealing is one part of gang life. But to him, that's not really what it's all about.

"We got money together if you want to call that being wrong, putting drugs into our community, we did that," he said. "And everywhere we went it was - if one went we all went, it was a family. It was my brother, my sisters - we're all going to go together."

The so-called family or brotherhood was not enough to keep him out of prison. He says he spent four years behind bars.

"When you love your brothers and they love you back, it ain't make no difference - going to jail or wherever for that love because you know they'll do it for you."

While he says he missed life on the outside, he learned a lot.

"You gonna learn a million things in jail -- ain't none of it good. If you want to ask me - did prison change me? No. Prison ain't change me. Prison made me smarter for committing other crimes."

Now he says it's hard to get a job, which makes quick money from the streets appealing.

"The easy thing to say is 'I can go back to the streets,' And the hard thing is to stay and do the right thing," said Charles Brown with the Midlands Fatherhood Coalition.

But Brown says there are other options.

"We'll assist you with expungement if needed," said Brown. "We have staff on hand to deal with those with criminal backgrounds. And get them to the point where they are employable and search for employers who will hire people with criminal backgrounds."

The gang member we talked to claims, at the core, gangs do not have to be destructive.
But through it all, he makes no apologies for the life he believes in and cannot walk away from.

"If you're part of a gang and you're willing to stand behind what you believe in, even if it's hurting another person or breaking into someone's house - stealing -- if you're willing to stand behind it through death, jail -- only think I can do is support you," he said.

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