Gangs remain a constant threat for many youth in inner city neighborhoods, but in the West Adams area of South Los Angeles, a non-profit organization called Sistas Working Against Gang Violence (S.W.A.G.V.) is on a mission to prevent young people from joining gangs.
On July 31, S.W.A.G.V. members gathered at Loren Miller Park to give away backpacks and school supplies to children, who were also treated to face painting and danced to the precision sounds of the Drummers with Attitude (DWA) drill band.
“Some of the children here have fathers who are currently serving lengthy jail sentences or who were murdered in the streets by rival gangs,” said S.W.A.G.V. founder Carolyn “Bubbles” Clark-Hamilton.
Clark-Hamilton is no stranger to gang life. She said she once roamed the streets in the West Adams area as a member of the Rolling ‘20s gang.
“I witnessed several homies getting shot and killed in drive-bys. I was shot and stabbed and I even got hit by a car,” she said.
Clark-Hamilton survived, but her life continued to spiral out of control after her parents died ten months apart.
“I was devastated and started using drugs,” she recalls. “I finally checked myself into recovery. But I decided to go back to my ‘hood to help young people stay out of gangs.”
Now an ordained youth minister, gang interventionist, Cease Fire member and domestic violence advocate, Clark-Hamilton has completely turned her life around.
“I believe God handpicked me and pulled me out of the gang life so that I could return to my old neighborhood and make a difference,” said Clark-Hamilton, who has also traveled to Little Rock, Arkansas, Somerville, NJ, and New York where she has saved young lives through her gang intervention work.
Other attendees at the event revealed that their lives were forever changed by gun and gang violence.
Springlean Thompson, the cousin of Clark-Hamilton, remembers growing up with members of the Blackstone gang in the West Adams district.
Source: LA Sentinel