Dark side of gang involvement focus of play | NevadaAppeal.com

Dark side of gang involvement focus of play

Terri Harber
Appeal Staff Writer

Community and religious leaders this weekend are hosting the presentation of a play that highlights dangers of the gang lifestyle. They are expecting about 600 people to attend, including members of various gangs.

“Blood In, Blood Out” will be performed at 7 p.m. Saturday in the Capital Christian Center, 1600 Snyder Ave. The event is free and being presented by the center and Victory Outreach Reno.

On a flier advertising the production, it states “To join the Mafia, you kill. To leave the Mafia, you die.”

“Our objective is to tell these young gang members it’s all a deception as far as power, drugs and a fun life,” said the Rev. John Aguilar, of Capital Christian Center. “There’s a price to pay: Prison or death.”

This doesn’t necessarily have to be the way things turn out – at least if someone truly wants to change. “Blood In, Blood Out” is the story about Art Blajos, once a hit man for the Mexican Mafia who decided to change his ways after a religious awakening.

Blajos is an evangelist involved with Victory Outreach and travels the country to talk about his experiences. His mission in life now is keeping young people out of gangs and persuading current gang members that life would be better if they leave that lifestyle, Aguilar explained.

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His life was chronicled in a book by the same name. He spent 15 years as a gang assassin and 17 years in prison.

He will be on hand for the production, which also will feature live rap and oldies music.

“It’s going to be real interesting,” said Javier Ramirez, one of the principals behind the Carson City Community Coalition, a local group being formed to address gang violence.

It’s a cautionary story “that shows how bad things can get,” while also showing it’s possible to change one’s ways, Ramirez said.

The coalition also is participating in the event, in which all residents are invited, but attention is being focused most on local youths who might be tempted to choose a gang lifestyle or are already involved with one of these groups.

“Enjoy the drama,” Aguilar said. “And see what the Lord wants to do in people’s lives.”

The presentation follows a gang-related shoot-out in October in the Northridge area that left one man dead and another injured. A community meeting last month on gang awareness drew an audience of about 200 people.

There will be a metal detector set up as a precaution, Ramirez said.

Blajos and the performers also are involved with Victory Outreach, a Christian church and religious organization with locations across the globe.

For details, contact Capital Christian Center, 883-3355.

If you go

WHAT: “Blood In, Blood Out”

WHEN: 7 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Capital Christian Center, 1600 Snyder Ave.

COST: Free

INFORMATION: 883-3355

• Contact reporter Terri Harber at tharber @nevadaappeal.com or 882-2111, ext. 215.