This Restorative Justice Life

95. Restorative Violence Prevention & Healing Toxic Masculinity with Angel Garcia

September 15, 2022
This Restorative Justice Life
95. Restorative Violence Prevention & Healing Toxic Masculinity with Angel Garcia
Show Notes Transcript

After 20 + years as an active gang member in the streets of Los Angeles and 12 years of incarceration, Angel has now dedicated his life saving lives by intervening in the vicious cycles of violence some in our community experience. He’s using his negative past to foster positive futures.

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David (he/him): Angel, Welcome to this restorative justice life. Who are you?

Angel (he/him): I'm a son. 

David (he/him): Who are you? 

Angel (he/him): I'm a friend 

David (he/him): Who are you? 

Angel (he/him): I'm a father. 

David (he/him): Who are you? 

Angel (he/him): I'm a brother.

David (he/him): Who are you? 

Angel (he/him): I'm a mentor. 

David (he/him): Who are you? 

Angel (he/him): I'm an ex gang-member. 

David (he/him): Who are you? 

Angel (he/him): And I'm a work in progress. 

David (he/him): Thank you so much for being here. Angel. We're gonna get to the intersections of so many of those things right after this.

Thank you again, angel. So much for being here on this restorative justice life. you know, you are one of many people who have been on this podcast since, the NACRJ conference back in July. I think we were in a session together talking about like, quote unquote non-traditional, participants in restorative justice.

And some of the things that you were sharing was like, yo, I gotta get this guy, to tell his story here on our airway. So I wanna ask you to do that in just a moment, but it's always good to check in, at the start of these. So to the fullest extent that you want to answer the question right now, how are you?

Angel (he/him): I'm great. You know, I, I could honestly say I'm blessed. Life has never been better. I'm grateful for everything I have and everything that I've been able to accomplish in the short five years since I've been out of prison and. Just looking forward to the future. 

David (he/him): Yeah, absolutely. we're gonna get into, you know, the work that you've been doing, the work that is coming with you and the city of New Mexico and your community, sorry, City of Albuquerque and your community. but you know, the, the framework of restorative justice is something that you learned rather recently, but I imagine in some way, shape or form, you were doing this work even before you knew those words. So in your own words, how did this get started for you?

Angel (he/him): So, recently? It was just, you know, like a training that I took so that I could better myself in my approach, when I'm out in the streets doing interventions. But, so I took a training. I, I met one of our Restorative justice gurus here in Albuquerque. And they took her training and, uh, it was very interesting, you know, like, I really love the concept of being of the victimizer and the victim being able to heal together one another, you know, it was, it was just a powerful, a, a powerful, powerful, interesting, model to me.

I never heard of restorative justice before, before I got into the work, but, you know, kind of like what you said right now, you were probably doing it before you even got into this field. Yeah, I could kind of remember, like being a kid and bringing two fronts together that weren't really talking and like, Hey man, you guys gotta talk this out, you know?

Cause we're we're friends. So, but I didn't, you know, I didn't know I was doing restorative justice back. but you know, this was in the hood with my homeboys. So, but yeah, no, like it, it intrigued me a lot. So when I, when I saw the NACJR conference, I was like, no, I have to go to this. You know, I have to meet more people.

I have to like, hear their experiences. And it was very rewarding being there. 

David (he/him): Yeah. You know, there's one thing about like getting formal training, which you have recently. We'll, we'll come back to that in a second, but I wanna go back to, you know, when you were a kid bringing your friends together, right?

Like that's not, everybody's inclination, not everybody plays that peacemaker role. Where was that modeled for you? Or what inspired you to do that? 

Angel (he/him): Well, to me, honestly, back then, it was like, okay, these are my friends. I don't wanna be stuck in the middle. Like, these dudes are over here fighting with each other and, oh, you gonna go kick it with that, dude.

I'm not gonna go, you know, like, I didn't wanna have to choose. So in my mind, what it instinctively came to me was like, all right, I gotta get these dudes together so they can figure it out. And that way I'm not just stuck in the middle, like, oh, who am I gonna hang out with today? And we go, I'll just hang out again, you know?

David (he/him): Yeah. Are there any particular incidents that like stand out to you and like the way that you helped them come back together? 

Angel (he/him): Yeah. You know, so, so it was over a girl. These dudes were arguing and, you know, they were arguing and every time I'd be with one, he'll be like trying to sway me, not to hang out with the other one.

Then I go hang out with the other one. And the same thing, you know, like, oh, why you hanging out with that dude? And I just got tired of it, you know? And, I told each one of them to meet me at my house, but I didn't tell them that the other one was coming . So we went to my backyard, So one of 'em got there first and, he went to the, he went to the backyard and another one got there and he just stood by the door.

Go, man, come here, man. Like enough's enough, man. Look, we're friends. And we were only like 14 at the time, you know? So I'm like, man, look, man, we're friends, neither one of you dudes is gonna marry this girl. Like where the hell you guys over here, like talk it out man, or whatever has to happen here. Let it happen here.

But we're all walking outta here friends. Yeah. So, and yeah, I know. And they, they talked about it and yeah, they hugged, they hugged it out and that's it. You know, we were off and running again, being friends. 

David (he/him): Yeah, no. I mean, and sometimes it's that simple, there are definitely things where I'm like, oh, like in other instances where like, I didn't know that this person was gonna be here.

How could you bring them here? Like, how could you be with this? Like that could go left, but because of like the relationship that you had with both of them, the trust that you had with both of them, it allowed that, that situation to go, like maybe in a better way. I'm curious, like as, as this peacemaker, right, in those situations, you've come out, of your experience being incarcerated, like wanting to do this work. You know, you went through this experience being incarcerated for, for a good chunk of time and you decided to come out and do this kind of work. What about either your experience or inside and the life that you lived in between now and then, inspired you to keep going in this way?

Angel (he/him): So, you know, I'm not gonna lie, but like in my past life, yeah. Things were very violent, you know, like confrontational, but also, there's a old Mexican saying called, it says “Hablando se entiende la gente.” like if you talk, you couldn't understand one another, you know, so like even in the prison yard, I'd like some of the homies, one of the homies would be just bad mouthing another one.

When I knew, when I knew that this dude didn't really know him. So when this dude was walking by, I'd kind of do it like in a messed up way, but either way, at the end, they would end up being friends. I'm not gonna lie to you. Like the way I went about it, they would end up fighting. But at the end they would actually

Like I'd call 'em over. And then when this dudes right here, I'll be like, Hey, what were you saying about this dude? So they'll end up fighting about it. But at the end, they, they like, like, we all know we're all more the same, that we're different, you know? We, we're all more light than we're actually different.

So, we'd always end up eating together, playing cards together and it just makes it for a better time. Cause like me, I hate tension. I hate animosity. Like, yeah. So, but funny story though, like when I got outta prison, I didn't know that I was gonna go in this direction. Like I, when I, when I got out and I moved, cause I'm from California, I'm from Los Angeles.

So when I paroled, I stayed with my mom in long beach for a couple days. And then I moved out here to Albuquerque and when I got here, so my uncle he's a, he is a professor at UNM. So he gave me the opportunity to try to change it up for myself. So he made me enroll. At the community college here in Albuquerque.

So I decided that, electrical trades was probably the best way for me to go to start making money, decent money fairly quickly. Mm-hmm cuz I was 33 at the time, you know, so I didn't really have the luxury of time, but you know, I kept rocking it at school, kept making the Dean's list and they invited me to join this, honor society for two year colleges, called fight data capital.

When I got involved with them, one of, one of their big hallmarks is, service. So they go out in the community and they, they do a bunch of stuff like food pantries, helping out community. And after my first community event, man, it just, it felt good. You know, like. I felt good about myself. You know, like the people that we were helping, coming up to you coming up to me and telling me, oh, thanks.

You know, thank you for all the help. And I wasn't used to that, you know, like, cuz sometimes like I'm heavily tattooed, you know, from head to toe my hands, everything like my legs. Like sometimes I might look unapproachable, you know, like some people might not wanna approach me, but, but I don't know, that felt, that felt good.

Like somebody actually thanking me for doing something good. So I kept pursuing that feeling and. I got the opportunity to get involved with student government. when I, when I, when I joined that, it gave me the platform to try to do something more and I wanted to do something for people, students in particular who have been just, system, systems impacted who have been involved in the criminal justice system.

So, I joined the, a faculty committee and then we implemented, we implemented, a resource center for students with criminal records. Yeah. In the process of all of that. you know, I talk, I talk at events at, at, at the community college of why this was so important and necessary for someone like me, the support, the encouragement, and in me doing all of these talks and all of these presentations, The mayor, this was 2019.

The mayor of Albuquerque was, researching, growth, violence, intervention models, And part of the motto is having a person credible messenger with lived experience. So at that point, I knew that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. Mm-hmm help systems impacted people, help create policy that after we do our time, you know, like not keep paying for our mistakes for the rest of our lives.

You know what I mean? So I just didn't know how I was gonna get into it. And during winter break, 2019, you know, by the grace of God, I get an email. If I wanted an interview for a possible employment position with the city of Albuquerque and, I interviewed, and, there was four candidates and, they chose me.

So I've been doing this work now for like two years and a half. 

David (he/him): Yeah, I want to go back to, you know, coming out, and like having your, your uncle be like, “yo, you need to come out here.” A lot of times when we think about like the restorative justice broadly, it is about like repair of harm processes, being, bringing people together to like solve the problems between them.

That's important. That's important work that is restorative. And sometimes, the steps to get to that place, like involve like people in your community just saying like, Hey, like what is it that you need? how can I support you? What, and sometimes people aren't always ready to take that help. What was it, about like, you know, you and your uncle and what going, what was going on back here in long beach I'm in Pico Rivera.

So not that far from where you were staying, what was it about like, you know, like I need this change. I need to go out here. I'm gonna take, my uncle up on this thing.

Angel (he/him): So the whole thing that kinda pushed me over the edge about wanting to do something different was, you know, I was raised mostly by my, well yeah, by my mother, because even when my dad was around, he wasn't around, you know what I mean?

Mm-hmm, so raised by a single mother on welfare, worked her ass off to provide, I'm a big mama's boy, you know? Sure. I love, I love my mom. I respect her, but one of, so one of the inmates on my last prison term, his mom died and I've known this dude from my second prison term at that point, when I bumped into him and again, I was on my fourth.

Mm. So, This dude was always live cracking jokes, like real fun dude to be around, you know? he was a it's funny cause he was a skinhead, but he was a, he was real funny, you know? And as I I'd always liked to go talk to him, but he flipped out, his mom died. He had an episode, you know, episode of psychosis and he flipped out and that's kind of like what opened my eyes?

I didn't, I, I did not want that to be me and I didn't wanna be selfish to the point where I'm just doing me and my mom is out here dying and then I'm in prison and then she passes away me not be able to do anything for her. So that's kind of like what pushed me over the edge on one and change. I just didn't know how so it was actually my mother who suggested, why don't you move to New Mexico with your uncle and, Me and him had gotten into words when I was younger.

I honestly didn't think that he would say yes. So I, told him, well, ask him if he says, yeah, then I'll go out there. And he said, yeah. So, so I came out here and first thing he told me when I got in his car, when he picked me up, I was like, look, I know you're grown, but you're gonna go to college.

You're gonna live in my house. And I'm glad you did, you know, like that changed my whole life. You know, cause sometimes we wanna change. We just don't know how, like we don't know anything other than what we know. So, I don't know if you remember. So like, when I was talking, when you, when we, we were together in that session, but remember that's what I was talking about.

Kind of like just being that, trying to be that guiding light for people like. But first and foremost, like repairing the relationship with themselves, you know, knowing that, knowing that they matter and getting them to care about themselves in order to push forward with everything else is what I try to do.

That's why I went to that Non-traditional, restorative justice, cuz I'm trying to restore the relationships with themselves kind of like I had to with myself, you know? 

David (he/him): Yeah. I think a lot about how to your point, like people aren't always ready. And like if, if somebody approached you at a different time with these ideas, like you might not have been ready.

Right. If you hadn't seen that, that other person like go through this episode with their mom, as you're doing this work now, right. How are you, How do you keep that in mind as you're approaching folks who I, mean, I, it's not just like folks who have been incarcerated, right. You're talking about like people who haven't gotten to that point yet young people who haven't gotten to that point yet, like how do you keep that in mind, in the way that you do your work?

Angel (he/him): So, the way I, the way I approach it is, I'm not, I'm not a savior, I'm a, I'm a gardener. I'm just gonna plant this seed. You might not be ready, but when you are, then we can start watering that seed until it, it blossoms, you know, like, cuz I tell people all the time, you know, like I, I personally understand that you're not gonna make a change until you're ready for it.

Yeah. But when you're ready for it, I want you to understand, then I'll be. And here's my number. Save it. If you don't call me tomorrow, you don't call me next week, call me next year, you know? And, and it's happened where people call me six, seven months down the line, you know? 

David (he/him): Yeah. And I think like we we've skipped around a little bit, so like, I want to make sure that like, we're making the connections for folks, right.

When you, you went, like, I do wanna explore like the, the resource center that you helped start for students who had been formally incarcerated, but like the work that you're doing now with the, the mayor's office, right. As like credible messengers, like what does that program look like? 

Angel (he/him): So it's called the violence intervention program and it's a public health approach to addressing gun violence.

Yeah. So we're, we, we, we're trying to reduce the cycles of violence, recidivism, by addressing the underlying root causes of why. People are doing what they're doing. You know, whether it's substance abuse treatment, we'll put 'em in treatment. GED, basic needs, job training, job placement, like whatever it might be that they need.

Those are the resources that we provide and we don't provide 'em ourselves. I'm just the source of referrals, but we refer them to like community organizations who are already doing the work, but we stay on as like life coaches or mentors and we provide peer support. but we're also their advocates.

So like if I refer somebody who historically has never wanted services has never accepted services. If, if I get them to actually engage in services and they're there. And then sometimes, programs have their own policies. You know, if you miss two consecutive appointments, then we're gonna discharge.

So I have to advocate to that program. Look, you have to understand that we're dealing with high risk individuals who have never had that structure. So we have these, these understandings, when somebody falls off, instead of discharging, 'em just give us a call and we'll, we'll back out. We'll go hit the streets.

We'll look for 'em and we'll bring them back, you know? Yeah. I mean, 

David (he/him): When I think about, sorry, let me look up the exact quote that you said. and well, like maybe the exact quote isn't important. Right. But you're talking about like, we're not gonna arrest our way outta these problems, right? Yeah. Do you remember saying something?

Angel (he/him): Yeah. Yeah, I do. So, I always like to open up my presentations when, especially when I'm presenting a community stakeholders. Yeah. Or even legislators, I, I always tell them, look, America is the most incarcerated country in the world with right now, 6.9 million people incarcerated, and we are no safer for it.

We can't arrest our way out of this problem. We can't arrest our way outta crime. We can't arrest our way out of anything. It hasn't worked. We're the most incarcerated country in the world. So what comes next? We have to find these alternate solutions or programs or individuals who are doing the work in the streets, who might actually affect some change, you know, cause there's a big difference from a cop approaching somebody and, and, and trying to get them to see a new way of seeing things or.

You know me that I've been there and I've done that, you know, like I used to have the same lens as you homeboy, you know, but now this is what it is, you know? 

David (he/him): Yeah I'm always like, like how do people, when you're having those conversations, what are people's reactions? Because I imagine it's different in different spaces.

Angel (he/him): Yeah, no. So usually when I go out and do interventions, it's either in the hospital or either to their homes and, the, the way our, our model works, is that the first initial, except for the hospital one, the hospital ones is, strictly, social services. But our motto is that when we go to, home interventions in the community, the first time we go out, we go out with, With a deputy commander from Albuquerque police department.

And that's just because it's a partnership, they have their message. But the biggest part of the program is my side of it, the social services. And we have our message. But so when we first get there, you know, you have this, this, this police officer standing on your doorway a lot of the times, as soon as he says, look, you're not in trouble.

We just wanna talk to you about this program. You can see like the relief wash over them. But then after that, me and my team, we make it a point to let them know, look, we don't work for them. We work in partnership with them that this is how we get our referrals from the shooting reviews that they have.

And they can us look, this will be a good candidate for you guys to go and, and help. So, we explain that to them, but then that that's the last time they'll ever see him. And then they'll just continue working with us. So after we explain that, they're pretty much, you know, like they've always been receptive, whether they're in their addiction at that point in time and don't want the help.

that's a different story, but most of the time they're always receptive and they know most importantly, they know that we'll be here for them. 

David (he/him): Yeah. to your point, like, it's not always like, just like on the initial, on the initial ask, like, especially like when it's seen as like, oh, this might be something that like, they, like I'm being coerced into doing because of like the circumstances, but like, people are often open.

Like, what does it look like once people engage in your services? 

Angel (he/him): So, every, everybody like on the crew. That, that we go out on interventions and we do the follow ups and, and that we, we work with the people we've all been in the street life, you know, we've all been in prison. and there's a certain, I don't know, there's a certain, quality that, that we develop over time where, where it just, we become like,

humor is what got us through prison. So we joke around, you know, we joke around, just make, break the ice and, and make it just seems like, make it seem like, just like, not as heavy as the situation is, but we bring lightness to the situation to where we're all just okay. we're not all just taking ourselves serious.

It's serious. What we're talking about, what we're trying to do, but like, we could talk about it, like in a openly humorous manner, you know, we make them relax. And then at the end, we connect with them on a human level and then not just that, but like, we'll talk about our past at times. And then like, I've literally, like, I've had interventions where like I'm talking and I get going, you know, and next thing, like, they're, they're tearing up and they're crying cause I'm talking about the pain that we go through, you know, like the loneliness and the, the street life, you know?

And and at that point, like if you could make somebody tear up, then you, you, you pretty much got 'em, you know, like they're feeling they're experiencing the pain again and they don't wanna feel it anymore. And they're like, okay, let's do this. You know? 

David (he/him): Yeah and so like when you've gotten to that point, like, what is the journey that, you help people or like you accompany people on as they're starting to make those changes for themselves.

Angel (he/him): I mean, whatever it may be like we would always walk alongside someone, you know, and even if they walk a little bit in front of us and we have to push 'em along the path, we're willing to do that. We're just not gonna walk in front of them cause they're gonna get lost. You know, we're not keeping our eyes on them, but I mean, whatever it might look like, you know, sometimes they'll go, they'll go to their sessions and, or they'll go to work for a week and then they fall off.

But we just keep in mind, like we're dealing with high-risk individuals in our community and we try to celebrate any little accomplishment, you know? Like if I tell 'em I'm gonna pick you up at age, I could take you here and they're ready by eight. I that's. That's being, you know, responsible. And I celebrate that with them.

Hey man, I'm proud of you, you know, like take 'em to lunch or whatever, but, but most importantly, it's just building up these little, like accomplishments, these little things that'll make them feel good about themselves. And, cause I know it worked for me. The more I keep getting A's the more I wanted to keep doing better and better and better, you know, just these little accomplishments and the further along I got, I didn't even think about LA anymore trying to go back or my past life, you know?

David (he/him): Yeah. there's that was a question that I was going to ask later. You, you just said it now, like, is there a part of you that's like, I want to go back not to reconnect to like the past life, but to like go back to my community and do this work there where I caused a lot of harm. 

Angel (he/him): Yes. Definitely. Like that's definitely in my future plans. Yeah. And I wanna do it. I'm just sharpening up my skills here and cause you know, like I'm not gonna lie to you. Like I've been five years removed from the life. I wanna give myself more time. Cause you just never know, you know, I haven't put myself in those situations where like I have to choose my new life, my old life.

And I just wanna make sure that when I do go back, I'm cemented and what I'm doing and cause you know, like you, you build bonds with these people, you know, with these, with your homeboys and all that with the streets. And like right now, I don't know if I'd be strong enough to say, oh, he's asking me for a ride.

Or like, knowing that, well, he has a gun and he shouldn't be in my car, but right now I'd probably be like, okay, hurry up. I'll drop you off. And then just from this block to that block, dropping him off at his grandma's house or something, boom, cops are gonna pull up. You know, anything can happen.

And, and all they know is me from the past and they're gonna be like, oh, you're back. And then everything I've worked for is ruined, you know? so those are things that I think about, but honestly, like, I do wanna go back whether I start a foundation later on or something targeting like my area. I just haven't, I'll cross that bridge when I get there, but I, I know definitely that I do wanna go back and help out my community that I helped destroy for so many years.

David (he/him): Yeah. I mean, and thank you for sharing that like transparently, right? You talked about like, you know, healing yourself, part of that is knowing yourself and like knowing where you are and your process of healing, right? Yeah. Like, I think a lot of times when people think about, you know, restorative justice work and like this transformative way, like this isn't always quick, right?

Like sometimes when we are addressing like a very specific incident of harm, right? Like we can like bring people together who are beefing over like yeah. You know, trying to date the same girl, like we can squash it. Neither of us are gonna marry this person let's move on. Right. Yeah. But when we're talking about habits that people have built over a long time or systems that people have participated in for such a long time, like this, this is work that does take time.

And just because we don't get it right. Quote unquote. Right. immediately like, doesn't mean it's not worth doing. I'm curious, like, you know, you are new to like the formal framework of restorative justice and I, you, I heard you say like, you know, like you were like, yeah, like this is something that I can bring to the, the communities that I'm working with now.

How have you brought our, well, I guess like first, what was it about like that training and you can name check, the person who shared it with you. That's fine. but what was it about that training that's like, oh yeah, this and then like, how have you applied that to your work? 

Angel (he/him): Yeah, so, her name was Tonya Covington and she, she was actually with me at the conference.

but yeah, like, so the way that she just talked about kinda like the history of restorative justice, stemming the, the root of it coming from, like, the native Americans and the way that they handled, their situation, like. in the past and it, it like all that just, I don't, it just attracted me like the mediation, the de-escalation of things.

And then, the, I guess the most in her training, the most powerful video that she showed us was, Adam F. I don't know if you know who that is. He's a, yeah. So he, she, she showed us a Ted talk, Adam [Foss]. talking about him being a prosecutor. And this is the thing that opened my eyes. Like I did not know how much power prosecutors have, cause he said, I have, I have, when you're a prosecutor, you literally have these people's lives in your hands and you could decide if you're gonna lock 'em and throw away the key or you could work something out with them and, and, and try to get 'em on a better path.

So that's, that's what. Like kind of hit me and when I'm out doing like my interventions, like for me, it's like, okay, am I gonna give up on this person? Cause clearly they're not ready or am I gonna keep just being a thorn on their side so that they know that I'm here until they get ready? You know what I mean?

So just, I mean, like I said, you know, like the most important thing is for, I always try to, so the reason I call it, the reason, your reason, like, what's your reason? Like for me it was my mother like, I always ask people this, like, dude, like, is there a reason or person, anything that you would want to switch your whole life up for?

Like, so, I don't know. Just, yeah, just for me, it's always. At least my philosophy is that everything ends and starts with me, like in my life at least, you know, like any situation or anything. So then I have to be good with me. I have to be like at that point where like, if I wanna get healthier, I have to like, just really do it for myself, you know?

And I don't know, just like still right now, like I said, it's been five years. I'm still learning myself. I'm real self-aware though, but I'm still learning like how to love myself and coping with the harm that I've done in the past, but just, I don't know, just like the whole concept of healing is what attracted me.

Cuz at some point in my life, I wanna feel like I'm completely healed, you know? And by helping others heal themselves in the community, it's cathartic for me as well. Like it helps me heal myself. 

David (he/him): What are the signs that you're able to like, identify in yourself that like you are like, not like healed, like at the end of the journey, but like you're on the right path. 

Angel (he/him): So, I mean, I could, I get emotional now. I could feel, I allow myself to explore my vulnerability. Like I allow myself to be vulnerable in front of other people.

like I'll like in the past, like in LA, you know, like, you know, I would drink, you know, do cocaine, smoke weed, but always some kind of numbing agent, just so that I could live with myself. And, I just, you know, growing up with that to toxic masculinity, like, oh, men don’t cry and you have to be hard.

Angel (he/him): And then especially in prison, you know, like you can't go in there and be weeping all the time, you know, you're gonna be a target so just like, hardening my heart now, like, man, I could be watching something and like something will come on, I'll start tearing up. You know, it’ll be like that, you know?

So like, that's why I know like it's in process, it's, I'm a work in progress, but, you know, and just for the simple fact that I cry in front of people now, you know, I cried at two of the sessions in Chicago. Like no way in hell would I have done that in the past? You know? So that's just, those are signs for me that, you know, I'm getting there, like I'm working on myself and I'm allowing myself most of all, like to.

To go along with it, you know, like just I'm not resisting is what I'm saying. You know, I'm not resisting the change. I know that in order for the new me and the future, me to be the best me, it's gonna sound crazy, but I have to kill the whole me, you know, like get rid of, 

David (he/him): I mean, there are lots of metaphors when we, I don't think that like, this kind of transformation just happens through like restorative justice, like quote, unquote, that kind of thing.

Like with the, that formal, language. Right. I think it's important to remember it. You've said it. I say it all the time on these airwaves and in other places like restorative justice is about relationships, right? Healing, relationships, building relationships, strengthening relationships. And the first relationship that you have is the relationship with yourself.

Right? So restorative justice is about that. You work, but like, that's not the only framework that people come to, like inner transformation and sometimes like, yeah, that transformation requires like, I, I can think of like different religious traditions thinking about like that transformation that people have, like in a conversion experience or like an enlightenment, right.

Like being able to see things differently. And then once you see things differently, you're, you're able to practice, but it's a process, right? Like people aren't always able to jump in immediately. I'm curious, you answered the question. a different way than I Intended it earlier. Cuz you were saying that like you were, when you go out and share about your work with like community stakeholders, like I asked you, like, you know, how are people reacting?

You were, you took that question to me and like how are the people that you go out and work with? responding to that. I'm curious how the community stakeholders who you're presenting to, are, are digesting that information. Because I think in, our communities we see the need for, you know, just something different, like not being able to arrest our way out of these problems.

and there are people who are very invested in continuing that cycle of, of violence and oppression. So like when you're giving those presentations, like I wanna ask in the other direction, how are those people receiving that message? 

Angel (he/him): So you know what, like I'm not even gonna lie to you. Like they always like.

So I'll give you an example. and my colleague told me this, so I was in a, I was in a, a town hall on a panel. I was on a panel with the special agent in charge from the FBI, from, from here mm-hmm, a commander from the Albuquerque police department. one of the executive directors from the courts.

And then it was me, you know, and the part of the town we were in, the part of the town that we were in, the, the, the, the participants, the, the, the, the crowd that showed up, like the viewers mm-hmm, white, my colleague told me, like, dude, I thought they were gonna, I thought they were gonna like, just gang up on you and bombard you.

She goes, but it's like when, when I, when we talk about the work and. Most importantly explaining why the work is important. Like if we could get this one person to, to put the gun down and stop the revolving door recidivism, like, first of all, like it's gonna impact not just this person, but his whole family.

Mm-hmm yeah. All it takes is one person to change the whole dynamic for their family, you know? Yeah. Like there's, there's families that are generational gang members because one person got into a gang now everybody's doing it. Well, it goes the other way too. If one person changes their life, then bam, everybody, the whole family, the dynamic changes too.

but I gotta tell you, like every, every time we present everybody at the end loves the program and they thank us for the work that we're doing. They wanna know how they could get involved and, I mean, I don't know if they're at that moment, just blowing smoke and keeping their real thoughts themselves.

Angel (he/him): But most of the time they're like real congratulatory and supportive of the work. And we've presented to all, all types of, community stakeholders, like, community policing, council, citizens academies, the public defender's office the other day, all types of different community, based organizations and everybody's on board.

Like, I mean, I don't know that's how it happens in other towns, but I mean, like for here, everybody's on board with us, you know? 

David (he/him): Yeah. What are the changes that you like, people are. So I guess. I've been doing this work for a little bit longer than you've been doing it. And like, I love the energy that you're giving me because like, it's hopeful.

Right. And it's hard for me to be hopeful sometimes because like these problems aren't new. And if people like opened their eyes and like had the will to change some of these things, a lot of these things would've changed a long time ago. And like, why does it take you sharing your story in that instance to like, get them to be like, oh my gosh, this like this brown person, like, like, let's, let's be real.

Like, we're talking about like white people who are like, and I'm not saying like, all police officers are white, all district attorneys or states, attorneys are white and all judges are, but I'm saying like, for the most part, people who are invested in whiteness being preserved, like if they had like, had this analysis and like, didn't take like, oh, I know angel he's a good guy.

He turned his life around. Like, if we would just like, provide those resources to communities ahead of time, like. These problems wouldn't exist. And so, like, it's great that people are single. And I wanna, like, I was watching myself. I was like, you know, knowing yourself being self-aware I was watching myself like, listen to you and being like, yeah, but like, what is the change that's happening?

Like they say that to your face. Right. and I don't know, Albuquerque, I don't know, New Mexico. Well, what is the change that you have seen, since you've been doing this work, like on a systems level, on a policy level, on a resource allocation level. 

Angel (he/him): So definitely like at least for our program, we definitely try not to put more money into, one of my, one of my coworkers said the best, the nonprofit industrial complex, where these big nonprofits.

Who have the grant writers and everything get all the money, but then they don't really do the work so that's, that's one thing that definitely we're trying to switch up here, getting the money to the people who are gonna do the work. So also, meeting, meeting with legislators. So this year we've been trying to pass it for three years since the inception of the program.

But this year, HP 96 finally passed house bill 96, which was to get money from the legislator to implement a statewide, statewide office of violence intervention. and to get some monies here for us, but most importantly, I think that the change and the perception that we're changing, starting like, my colleagues, myself, And the office of peer recovery and engagement there's here in New Mexico.

We have what are called community peer support workers, CPSWs. Okay. And we're all people with lived experience. So I think that the shift that is starting to be noticed because more people like ourselves are getting born and more good opportunities of employment. I think the shift that is being made here is that they're finally realizing the value of life experience.

You know, like somebody who has a PhD and has been in college for 10 years is in no way gonna do the amount or like in no way it's gonna have the, the, the type of impact that a person that ran around in the streets for 20 years is gonna have. You know what I mean? Yeah. So I think that that's a definite shift and, cause I have these old white people walking up to me all the time, giving me hugs and shaking my hand and just wanting to be in the angel Garcia business, you know?

Yeah. And, and I think that's a big shift, you know, like instead of walking away, crossing the street, clutching their purses. Cause I'm not, you know, like, you know what I mean? Like, so I think that's a major shift that's happening. Like we're finally being recognized that, okay, we made a mistake now we're rectifying it and we're trying to help other people change theirs as well.

I think that that's the biggest shift that I could notice that we're getting more props and, and our life experience is finally being seen as a thing of value. Not, not as. Oh, he's a ex you know, is, oh, he's an ex member and now he's, you know what I mean? 

David (he/him): Yeah. I'm again, like watching myself and like listening back to like our conversation that we've just had like celebrate the small things.

Right. Like David, like, like these things matter, right? Like you having that experience of people like wanting to work with you now, like being business, like, oh, like this guy can really get things done. Like yeah, of course this guy can get things done. Like, why wouldn't you think that? But like, Hey, it's a win that they see that I think I have a lot of energy and like resentment and cynicism for people who like will say that in one moment, like mean it the next moment.

And then. When it, like at the slightest deviation of like, oh, like, I don't know, like then either like funding gets pulled or like all these other things, they revert back to the way that they know to do things. 

How do you, I guess like, how do you stay hopeful? 

Angel (he/him): So you know what you don't, you know what it is like. so you've been doing the work longer than I have. So restorative justice was a thing that I learned maybe like a year and a half ago. Mm-hmm so I, I don't even 

David (he/him): I don't need to, even to put the words, like restorative justice on it.

I mean, like doing like liberation work, doing community work when there are systems and stakeholders, like, so invested in like actually keeping things the way that they are. 

Angel (he/him): Oh, yeah. So, so I'm hopeful because.

I guess maybe I still, so I did, I didn't start paying attention to like really, really, really like the state of things maybe until like three years ago. You know what I mean? And you know, I've always known that the 13th amendment said that it's a abolishment of slavery and involuntary servitude, except as a form of punishment.

I've always known that. But now, now, like now, now I recognize that that's where the law is to mass incarcerate black and brown people to, for them to still get their free labor. Well, that was the loophole, you know, so. Like now I'm paying more attention to, I mean, I guess I could say that I'm hopeful because I'm in the work now and now, like I'm not fighting against the system, I'm working with it.

And with that, like I've always been an op an optimist. I have to be an optimist. Cause I don't wanna feel like I'm just gonna waste the rest of my life. Cause I'm not gonna change one damn thing. You know what I mean? And, and my, so right now I'm actually in the process of, applying for a full party from, from Mr.

Newsome, you know? Yeah. So I have to do that cuz I'm gonna get into the politics. I can't run as a felon, so, and I'm, I'm just hopeful. Cause as people in Washington and all around the country start aging out. you know what I mean? And it's- politics are gonna get younger and, and that's what keeps me hopeful.

Like somebody like you is gonna get in there and then more people like you.

David (he/him): Absolutely not. But somebody like, yes, not me. Somebody. Yeah, 

Angel (he/him): Yeah. Your age. and also like, I've met a bunch of awesome, awesome, awesome young individuals here in Albuquerque who are getting into restorative justice work, who are purposely going to law school and who are, you know what I mean?

Like, so that gives me hope and all I, all, all I to do is like, man just root for them and try to help them out as much as I can. But definitely, definitely. I'm gonna get in, I'm gonna jump in man. Head first into the politics. I, I think I want to, I think I have to, So I have to stay optimistic. You know what I mean?

David (he/him): Yeah. I think like I wouldn't be doing this work either if I didn't think like it could be impactful or make a change. I think like my view of like the rate of things changing is a little bit different. Right. Because I see like these initiatives pop up and like lose funding based off of like, you know, quote unquote success of a program.

and I'm not saying that like everybody who is doing violence interrupter work is doing a great job of it. Most of them are right. Many of them are not everybody who's doing credible messenger work is like doing the best that it could be. But like at minimum, like it's employing somebody right.

Who like could be doing something else pretty destructive . and like it's probably preventing, some, some violence in communities. Those, those programs lose funding all the time based off of like political will and like whoever is like holding elected office or whoever is like choosing to fund this thing at a time.

And so, so I don't have a lot of faith in like, those systems, like being the source of like our liberation. And so like, when I think. My work and like amplifying restorative justice work, it is about community giving people in community the skills to be able to do this, proactively preventatively that's longer work.

That's not like an election cycle work. That's not like, yeah. The term of like, that's not like a grant cycle's work. It's about how are we building capacity in community to make sure that folks have the skills to navigate this conflict and harm between each other, but also like proactively build those relationships, like celebrate the small wins.

I think it's both. And, I think I've been let down and seen a lot of harm or like people not follow through in, in those systems. This is like, that's where this energy is coming from. 

Angel (he/him): Yeah no, I still, like, I know, I totally agree with you. And I guess I could also say that in my position, I've been a little shielded or protected.

From- cause we have a, a deputy director, we have a division manager program manager, you know, and they're the ones that deal with the heavy, heavy red tape and bureaucracy. Yeah. So I might be a little protected as a, but also, like I said, you know, like, you've definitely have been aware. I mean, I've been aware too, but I, I was living other than the criminal justice, I was doing my own thing.

I was worried about not getting killed on a daily basis, you know? So that really, so I didn't have time to think about all that stuff. No, but I definitely get you, you know, like government, any government is not really, especially like our national government, you know, like it should be not with the people.

It should be with the corporations. Right? Yeah. So I mean, I totally fully understand all that, like the way, the way, ghettos are formed. Redlining, ghettos are franchises, you know like, predatory lending and everything that affects us. but, other than civil unrest, I don't, I don't see, like, I have to try to do my part to try to bring a voice to the legislator from some, somebody like me, you know, that's, that's what I'm trying to do.

Like I'm gonna go up there and hey, just speak my mind, you know? And now we have somebody to represent like the people who have never been represented, at least it might maybe I'm, wishing on a star here, but for now that's the plan, you know? 

David (he/him): Yeah. Yeah. I don't think that. I don't think it's wrong to be hopeful.

So, I mean like, you have dreams of like, going back to LA you have dreams of political office, but like, what is like next present day? Like what comes next for you? 

Angel (he/him): So for now, I'm in the, I guess you could say, I'm in maintenance stage. right now I'm trying to, maintain what I'm working towards right now.

So, I'm at the university and I'm working on my bachelor's degree. I definitely don't plan to stop till I have my PhD, you know, and that's just another goal that I set for myself. but right now I'm just like in maintenance mode and I. Maintaining my household maintaining myself.

I moved my mother out here, so she's here helping her out, you know, making sure she lives out the rest of her days comfortably. Not that she's going anywhere in anytime too, but you know, I wanna be there for her the way she was always there for me. So, and yeah, and just right now, still keep making that impact in the community.

But most importantly, like you said, you know, with those community stakeholders where just changing their, their minds, you know, just making them look like, look, man, there's other ways we don't have to stay rounded in these ancient beliefs. 

David (he/him): Yeah. This has gone very different than most other episodes of this podcast and I'm just like being present to the moment and like taking it where it goes, like you said. but I think we're at the point where like I get into the question that we, the questions that we ask everyone when they come onto this podcast, we've talked around it, a little bit, but in your own words, define restorative justice.

Angel (he/him): So these are, these are not gonna be my own words cause I have to give credit or credit to do. There was a young lady in one of the breakout sessions, like to me before restorative justice was like you said, just, repairing and healing relationships. So that you can live in harmony with yourself, with everybody else, but I heard a quote and I'm gonna read it to you.

I wrote it down in my notes. I heard a quote this young lady said, and it just, oh man, it just it, so the quote is “The goal of restorative justice is not to humanize systems, but to de systemize humans.” The goal of restorative justice is not to humanize systems, but to de systemize humans.” So now, like the whole view of restorative justice has become this for me.

Like, yes. Even though, yes. Like, man, we're trapped by the system. How do we help people not feel that so that they could go on to live prosperous in their own way and healthy and harmony in their own way, you know, like.

I don't know. Maybe you have the answer. I don't, I'm working on it though. 

David (he/him): No, no, that was good. I appreciate it. And I think like, right, giving us the, the capacity to, to do this work, to live, to meet community needs. another one of my mentors, Cheryl Graves, who wasn't at the conference, she had Covid unfortunately, but she has episode number one in this podcast.

you know, sometimes simplifies restorative justice as like asking the questions, like, how are you and what do you need? And being able to respond to those needs for people in community. And that's it, that's all that we're trying to do. I love that. as you've been doing this work and like, we've been talking about like violence prevention or restorative justice specifically, like what's been like an oh shit moment. and what did you learn from it?

Angel (he/him): Let me see, so revolving my work or just RJ in, in the, 

David (he/him): Your work yeah.

Angel (he/him): So, one of those, oh, shit moments for me was like, and this is where kind of like I had to like relearn too. And like kind of you like what the need of the person is making me more reflective on that, you know? Cause, I work with a lot of the young men right now and a lot of 'em want they're like group involved and they they're acting like gang members and wanna be like live in that lifestyle.

And I found myself in, I found myself kinda talking to them or treating them that way. And very bluntly, you know, like very matter of factly without sugar coating things. And I turned around, I was transporting the kid. I was taking them. I took him to lunch because I hadn't seen him in a while. And he was telling me all these little stories about the street and all that.

And like, so I hurt his feelings pretty much, you know, and that's not what I'm here trying to do, you know, like my do no harm is one of our oath as a community peer support worker. And that was one of those, aha moments for me like, oh shit. Like I have to be more vigilant on how I talk to these little individuals because at the end of the day, they're still kids.

They're vulnerable. They wanna like, just feel loved and, you know, like I, so I apologize to em and, like I kind of pulled them out it, doing some motivational interviewing and all that, but it's just like also making sure that my old, my old upbringing doesn't creep into my current, being, cause growing up, like nobody like, just very harshly used to like by humble, used to talk to us or even my dad, you know, and just not being that toxic man that it could be like just being very cognizant of that person.

And so that, that was, that was one of the moments that has made me feel bad in this job, you know, like, oh shit, I hurt this little dude's feelings, you know? 

David (he/him): Yeah and there's always growth, right? yeah. There's always the ability to say like, Hey, I messed up. I'm sorry. Like, and like repair that in that moment.

Angel (he/him): Oh, I have another one for you. This one. So like me to me, like, I'm just doing the work. I'm trying to be there for people. I had this dude out like tattooed head to toe too. He was like, he had got shot. He pulled me to the side and, I had been working with him a couple months. He pulled me to the side and like just straight gang member, like straight thug, you know, like done a lot of time in prison too.

He gave me a hug. He gave me a hug and then he was like, “Angel, had you not knocked, had you not knocked on my door. I was waiting to heal for my wounds. Cause I was gonna go kill the guy that shot me. I know where he lives. I know who he is.” And, and man, thank you. So that, that right, that hit like a ton of bricks too.

Oh my God. I'm making a difference out here was that was where I was like, oh yeah, it, it came like, that Celine Dion song. That was the win that gave that beneath my new picture. That, that let me soar and like, oh, smack I'm actually like I could make a difference out here, you know? 

David (he/him): Yeah, yeah. like two, two different versions of like, oh shit. 

Angel (he/him):  Yeah, yeah. 

David (he/him): Thank you. Thank you for that. this question might be tough, tough in a different way. You get to sit in circle with four people dead or alive. Who are they? And what is the one question you ask that circle?

Angel (he/him): I have an uncle. Well, I had an uncle he got murdered in 1993. when he was my mom's little brother, he would be one, Tupac would be another one,

I would say. Emiliano Zapata, he was- Emiliano Zapata was one of the revolutionaries. And if I got one more, I would say, just Al Capone, just for the hell of it. 

David (he/him): Okay. So what is the one question that you would ask all them sitting in a circle?

Angel (he/him): What drove you? Like what was your inspiration, like, what was your vision? Like, what drove you?

Like what were you driving towards before everything went to shape before you got, you know, like, what was your, you know what I mean? Like, do I expect what kept you guys going? And, just to be interested, to hear what they say, like, what was your vision? Like, what was your inspiration, your driving force?

David (he/him): I can see like, why you're asking most of those people, that question, like, what do you expect Al Capone's response to be?

Angel (he/him): I don’t know, pasta? I don't like, just like, he's a, just. Like, Hey, he's a matter dude. You know what he did, like just, I heard he was a good guy too. Helped out his community. you never know, maybe all the crime he did was to help his community. And if that's the case, I, I would like to hear that, you know? 

David (he/him): Yeah. Well, no, I think like, I wonder like maybe like not what, like kept you doing it because like, I think for him specifically, it's like just trying to keep power, like trying not to get caught, like trying to maintain, but like, you know, so many gangs start just because of protection.

Protection for community and like, you know, so thanks for, thanks for going down that with me. I guess like, I get to turn that question back to you now, but like what, what drives you? What's you, you talked about like, you know, your reason and maybe that's a re-articulation of that, but like what keeps you going now? What drives you?

Angel (he/him): So honestly, what, what I, I kind of.

So when I die, I wanna leave my mark on this world, you know, like from what I was to what I became, and then just trying to make sure too, that I leave something behind for my family. I have a 19 year old daughter back in LA, you know, I haven't been there for most of life because I was in prison even now.

Like I'm trying to repress the relationship with her. And I mean, I don't think she fully believes that I love her and I do, you know, I do, but is like, it was my own fault. So just like just leaving something behind from my nieces and nephews, like that's gonna help them and that's gonna help their families.

but like most importantly just- I just, I just wanna leave behind the fact that if I did it, anybody could do it. You know, you don't have to be defined by your mistakes or by, you know, the cards you were dealt at birth, you know, like I became a product of my environment and right now, like finally for the first time in my life, I feel like I'm, I'm driving the car.

You know, I'm doing what I wanna do, not what is expected of me, not what I'm supposed to be doing or not what, like, I wanna do this. So now I don't know. Just leave, leave an example that yeah, it could be done no matter who you are, where you're at, what you've done, change is possible, you know? Just using my negative past to foster positive futures.

David (he/him): I love it. Two more questions. This one's challenging in a different way. Cause it requires homework. Who's one, who's one person that should have on this podcast and then you have to help me get them on.

Angel (he/him): Okay. Yeah. No, no problem at all. I'm gonna say Tonya Covington let's make it happen.

David (he/him): Yeah. Happen. Learn from, learn from your teachers. 

Angel (he/him): Yeah. Yeah. No and she she's awesome. like any little question I had, I'll just, Hey Tonya, what's this she'll tell me like- I was like what's yeah. Like, oh, like real quick unity, you know, like yeah, she she's awesome. yeah. And I'll make that I'll I'll actually, send, once we're done, I'll send an email with both of you on it.

David (he/him): Love it, love it, love it. When that happens. and then finally, how can people support you and your work in the ways that you wanna be supported? 

Angel (he/him): So. It's funny at, at that panel. when I was with the, the FBI agent and all that, one of the legislators that was hosting the panel asked me the exact same question in the same way, but she, she referred it to like the legislators. How can we help the answer for her was real easy. Just cut my program a fact check and we'll take care of the rest, you know,

Yeah, but for everybody else, I just wanna say, look, crime and everything like gun violence, it's happening in the streets, in the community. And right now, as a government employee, my whole staff, like my whole team, we recognize that the long lasting solution isn't gonna come from us, because like you said, next election cycle, the mayor is out.

We might be out too. So what we really wanna do is give the power back to the community. You know, the, the, the solution has to come from the community. We have to unite again. Like, I remember when I was growing up, like in the nights, like in the evenings, all the moms would be outside, you know, gossiping talking shit or whatever they were doing, but they'd be out there.

We all knew each other. The dads would be pounding a beer to together, but we all knew each other. And if something happened in our community, we were all there for each other. You know what I mean? faith-based leaders, back in the day, they were the first people people used to run to, you know, we have to get that back for our communities.

We have to get that unity back. And the most importantly right now that me and, like my crew have like this little gate keeping power, we're gonna open up the gates to give the resources, to try to hand out the RFPs to the community based organizations that are doing the real work. I was just saying, community getting more involved, like reach out, look up whatever program, whatever, whatever, whatever interests you, whatever your passion is, whether it's homelessness, juvenile, juvenile detention, like trying to mitigate that.

Anything, just look, look for a program in your community. That's doing the work and volunteer. Try to get more volunteers, you know, like we have to get the community more involved. That way the community is part of the solution. And they feel like they're part of the process and not just being told, look, this is what we're gonna do for you.

And that's it. You're gonna take it. You know what I mean? 

David (he/him): Yeah absolutely. I mean, so if you've got the, that check to cut, send half to angel and send half to amplify RJ angel. Yeah. And, but I really appreciate you also challenging folks, like do the work, don't just talk about it, right? Like find the place locally to plug in and, and connect with community because, you know, that's where these, these changes beyond like an election cycle, will, will take root and make change.

Angel (he/him): Yeah. You know, and start nonprofits, like get together with LLCs, you know, start nonprofits, look for the grants. Like, man, there's so much that our communities don't know that they could do, but like this time we take our power back and just stop feeling helpless you know.

David (he/him): Absolutely. Absolutely. Well, angel, thank you so much for coming on this restorative justice life and sharing your wisdom, sharing your stories.

We'll be back with another story. Another episode, another conversation with someone living this restorative justice life next week until then take care.




David (he/him): so, so angel, I'm curious if you could walk us through like the process of responding to shooting and potentially bringing people together to like squash things.

Maybe you're not always bringing people together, but what does that process look like when you're responding to a shooting? 

Angel (he/him): So there's, so there's two, two different types of interventions that we currently do. And it's hospital based violence intervention, and then just the regular violence intervention the hospital wants.

we love to do, because there's this little period of time where we like to call it. We like to call it the, the golden opportunity where the window is cracked just enough for this person to be laid up in the hospital, reevaluating their life. Like, man, I got shot I'm in the hospital.

What am I gonna do in my life? And if we get there during that little window of opportunity, then we could get our hooks into the person and really sell 'em on the change. But most importantly, selling them that they do matter selling them on the fact that they do matter, that they don't have to keep going on this road and that a better life is possible.

You know, it'll take some hard work. But we'll be right along their side doing the work. Also like just responding to the communities, you know, we have another program that partners with us it's called Cora community oriented response and assistance where while we are addressing the individual and his families, the trauma, this, Cora group is addressing the community trauma.

They go up and down the block, knocking on doors, handing out resources, like for anything, like if people need therapy for PTSD,or just anything like basic needs or rental assistance, whatever it is, you know, like we try to- that's how we try to help the individuals, their families, and the community.

Now we also have the first of its kind in New Mexico, a trauma recovery center where we're really gonna be able to address community trauma, familial trauma, generation trauma, all types of violence, you know, assault and batteries of affinity groups, you know, the transgender community gets assaulted a lot.

just so being able to address those traumas, I believe will make the community healthier and we will have clinicians, but we also wanna incorporate nontraditional practices like restorative justice, healing circles, culturally competent, uh, ceremonies, like-- I don't know if you know what that is, but Hispanics believe a lot, like in the healing powers of like, I guess you could call 'em witch doctors or something, but just, you know, like 

David (he/him): Traditional medicine, like I would say like, you know, restorative justice is the traditional.

and like we've been indoctrinated into punitive and carceral. Right. And so like reviving those spaces is, is so important, like for people to be able to tap into, you know, the, the practices of their ancestors and people who have come before us that like have helped keep our communities alive, for so long.

David (he/him): That's that's great. That, so when you said trauma center, I was like, oh, like, like a hospital, but no, that's not what this is. This is based in the community. 

Angel (he/him): Yeah. So what, well, the vision is having a community space for people to come in and have like little satellite offices, a big room where it's not like clinical at all, but just like homey, like a living room or something where people could just come chill.

But yeah. You know, community organizations would be able to come in and do their thing and everything would be like, provided by us, you know? So that's another way where we're working within the system, but kind of like in a nontraditional fashion, like kind of like opening up, not gate keeping, but, just inviting people into the space and the more of us that are doing the work, the greater impact we could have, you know?

David (he/him): Yeah, absolutely. Well, thank you for sharing. if you want to hear more about Angel's story and the community-based work that they're doing the violence interruption and, their story of how they got there, tune into this restorative justice life on Thursday for our full conversation.