FREE SPEECH ZONE | Stop Minneapolis Latino Youth From Joining Gangs


The Minneapolis Latino community has support from organizations throughout Minneapolis that can help them in many different ways.  However, there is one issue that the community has to face more than anything; the issue of having a child, brother, or friend involved in a gang, just hoping that the next time they see that loved one, he is okay, not injured, and alive.


A gang is a part of American history, of immigrants being in this country. Immigrants are more likely to form gangs because they feel supported by people of their own race.  They are different from city to city.


In Minneapolis, some of the Latino gangs originated in Mexico or parts of South America and then reformed in Minneapolis.  Other Latino gangs started up in Min



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A gang has two sides; the criminal side like drug deals and violence, and a style side like being “Cholo.” The way gang members dress, their tattoos, and how they talk are some things people usually look at to identify them. Often, teens are attracted and identified with the cholo subculture.


I interviewed Robyn Wenstrom, the director of Latino youth outreach from Urban Ventures (UV), a non-profit organization that serves Minneapolis families by breaking the cycle of generational poverty. She is also the director of a group called La Victoria, or “the victory,” a group formed by UV that focuses on Latino youth advocacy and provides a safe environment for youth to have a good time and interact with other youth the same age. Wenstrom said, “UV has many students that are surrounded by negative interaction and gang activity. Our programs have caring adults, volunteers, and positive activities where students can feel loved, accepted, and finally believe in themselves and their future.”


I also interviewed Mitch Roldan from an organization called Centro. Mitch, the gang prevention coordinator, focuses on teens that could be influenced into joining a gang.  In terms of factors that encourage teens to join gangs, Mitch believes, “Parents have to do with this problem, since parents might work all the time.  Or, teens may just need a mentor or to join a sport.  Violence at home may cause some teens to look for other ways to forget issues at home. Hunger could also be a factor.”


According to Mitch, there are many solutions. For example, Mitch believes that “more people in the community and the city should take more responsibility. Another solution would have to do with creating more programs for Latino teenagers so they can make a bigger impact in the community.”  Mitch, with the organization Centro, plan to create a program called “Involucrese” or get involved, that educates parents who have a child in a gang.  The program will discuss what is it that kids find in a gang or what is it that kids are so attracted to the gang and why do kids choose the gang over their family.


With these helping organizations and involved people, more citizens in Minneapolis can realize and help improve the problems that are going on with the Latino community. Hopefully, someday parents won’t have to worry that their teenage children won’t come back because they are making bad decisions due to their problems or lack of love at home.


Centro is located on 1915 Chicago Ave South. 55404



Urban Ventures is located on 3016 4th Ave. South 55408

(612) 455-4652