|How old am I:||24|
|What I prefer to drink:||Champagne|
|My favourite music:||Opera|
|I like:||Listening to music|
He pointed at an apartment building off Cedar Avenue where crack used to be sold. He walked by Washington Middle School where hood assault helped solidify the trajectory of his life.
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On this day, a street vendor outside the school clutched his paring knives a little closer when a group of teenagers walked past him. Other neighborhood vendors had been robbed recently, and the man selling fruit by the quart now looked suspiciously at the group of youth, some with school supplies in hand, just crossing the street.
Standing nearby, Lugo interrupted, shaking his head. At 9 years old, Lugo was beaten outside Washington Middle School by a group of other .
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Lugo says he wanted to run away from the blows long then, but a yearning to be accepted persuaded him to take the punches. Lugo believed that after the pain subsided he would emerge surrounded by a brotherhood. At the time, he thought ing the gang made him new allies, but no one told him it also made him 1, new enemies and set him on a path that Lugo feared would end with him beach in prison. During some of the darkest days in that prison, however, Lugo found a place of guy.
Modeled on successful gang rehabilitation programs like Homeboy Industries in Los Angeles, Lugo and his partners want Restore INK to give gang members and former prisoners a chance to get jobs and therapy. Lugo says kids now growing up in the same neighborhood he did deserve a chance to escape trauma and thrive instead. After his gang initiation, Lugo says his life was defined by that find and violence. He watched people die in shootings, including his own brother.
They denied this, but the shooter pulled out a weapon and fired, wounding two of them. Lugo says he happened to be visiting a friend after work in a nearby apartment when the shots rang out. Lugo maintained his innocence but was convicted in and sentenced to 20 years to life in prison despite the fact that one of the witnesses who originally identified him as the shooter later said it was someone else.
InLugo appealed his case, claiming his lawyers failed to adequately challenge the credibility of the witness who changed his story about seeing Lugo. Part of that new life was a physical transformation.
Lugo wanted to remove all of the gang-affiliated tattoos from his body. While there trying to get a tattoo removal appointment, Lugo saw a man he recognized working behind a desk. Lugo had to talk to him.
Jose Osuna stands in his neighborhood that he grew up in. Photo by Thomas R. He was convinced there was about to be a reckoning with his past.
Instead, Lugo asked for a favor. But there was more to Homeboy Industries, Osuna explained, telling Lugo they offered programs that could help him heal from the trauma he experienced. This got him hooked. His son was shot to death injust down the street from Washington Middle School, and Osuna spent more than a decade in prison before finding his way to Homeboy Industries.
Through those meetings, Lugo says, he was finally able to see a future outside of shootings, drugs and death. Boyle described Lugo as a man with a large stature, but he never saw him impose his immense size on anyone. He called him gentle. Boyle ended up hiring Lugo as head of Homeboy Industries security, which gave him a sense of purpose and a way back into mainstream society.
Courtesy photo Miguel Lugo. Very quickly, though, Lugo and Osuna began to realize that Long Beach—their hometown where kids are still living through the same gang-related trauma they did—lacked a program similar to Homeboy Industries. It pained them that the Washington neighborhood was still disproportionately plagued by violence. Shootings happen frequently. Lugo says he believed in it because it saved him, and he was as stubborn as they come. In response, the two started developing their support community, Restore INK.
The group is dedicated to helping the formerly incarcerated and those living through the traumas of gang life. Therapy is a big part of what Lugo and Osuna have set out to do. Through conversation and counseling, former gang members can wash away their pain and their assumed identity, Lugo says, because those who are hurt, tend to hurt others in return.
In FebruaryLugo and Osuna teamed up with Rev. The three men would host about 10 to 15 gang members at a time once a week to share meals and talk. Lugo wanted to show these men—who often viewed each other as enemies—that they are not very different. The tools needed by former inmates and gang members are simple, Lugo says.
Just finding them a stable job or a place they feel safe to open up are key. The pandemic, too, has complicated the plans for Restore INK, putting a stop to their in-person therapy sessions. For now, Osuna says the group keeps in touch with incarcerated people by writing letters to them. They also connect with the families of people in prison to assist any way they can.
Eventually, when the organization is beyond its infancy and they have the needed funding, Lugo hopes Restore INK can offer tattoo removal so members can strip away the physical markings of gang affiliation that Homeboy Industries helped him shed.
Inwhile serving time, Lugo was approached by a native spiritual leader who asked him if he wanted to attend a sweat lodge. Lugo is a member of the Yaqui Tribe, of the turtle and deer nation, a native group with tribes located near San Diego and over the border in Mexico. He knew what sweat lodges were, but figured it would be hard to convince the warden to let him go.
Somehow, Lugo was granted permission, and he regularly began attending sessions. At Washington Middle School last week, just after his conversation with the fruit vendor, Lugo lifted his shirt to show off his remaining tattoos.
At the top left, near his shoulder, an owl swoops down.
Miguel Lugo, 42, had all of his gang-related tattoos removed but left his back piece, which he said depicts his journey from a life a crime to a life of service. Thursday, March 18, Photo by Brandon Richardson.
I want them to start living life and enjoying life. They do not have any control over news stories like this one. In addition, this story was corrected to show Lugo was released from Centinela State Prison. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach. Never miss a story.
Connect with us:. Miguel Lugo gave a tour last week of the trauma that kept him trapped for so long. Time to step up During some of the darkest days in that prison, however, Lugo found a place of rebirth. At 18, he was caught up in the wake of a shooting in Downtown.
A baptism of freedom InLugo appealed his case, claiming his lawyers failed to adequately challenge the credibility of the witness who changed his story about seeing Lugo. Support our journalism. Show your support.