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PLATFORM : Replacing Disrespect With Unity and Love

May 05, 1993| GUS FRIAS is a criminal justice/education specialist with the Los Angeles County Office of Education and was a facilitator at the recent national gang summit in Kansas City, Mo. He told The Times: and

As a participant who lost the majority of my childhood friends to senseless gang wars in the East L.A. barrios, it was an honor to be part of a vision aimed at expanding the urban peace movement. Through the leadership of America's Latino and African-American grass-roots street youth organizations and the support of a collective of cross-cultural and religious leaders, we affirmed our belief in being the best and greatest resource in finding solutions to intra- and inter-racial gang violence and all the corresponding problems we face.

Our workshops were structured to address issues related to economic development, community policing, gender equity and empowerment through self-determination.

In a world where disrespect is synonymous with death, this summit reflected a tremendous respect and hope in youth. Because most of the participants shared a painful past filled with violence, bloodshed and killings, the facilitation and coordination of the workshops' contents and results were sensitive, enormous tasks. Nevertheless, our faith in God helped us to overcome heated discussions, frustrations and confusion. In the end, no amount of money can replace the unity, strength, intelligence and love this summit created.

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