Film reveals prevalence of gangs in Butte County

One interviewee compared gang involvement to a terminal illness that parents can prevent or stop, and many urged community action in Chico.

Young boys, mothers and concerned citizens filled the El Rey Theatre Sunday night for a packed showing of “La Grimas de mi Madre: Tears of my Mother,” a film about Butte County gangs created by Ron Reed and produced by the Butte County Public Defenders.

The film chronicles several current and former gang members as they detail the effects that gang involvement takes on young lives.

They also interview law enforcement, school officials, mothers and those involved in the probation process.

“Just in Chico alone their estimate is that we have an excess of 1,200 documented gang members,” said Capt. Ford Porter of the Chico Police Department.

The gang activities in the city, he said, are often weapon or drug related with gang members being between the ages of 15 to 30.

The gang problem has escalated in recent years; what was once an inner city problem has broadened to Northern California.

“I would talk to them and I would say ‘Well, are you in a gang?’ And I’d always get the same story, ‘No, I just have friends,'” said public defender Ron Reed, the creator of the film.

“A few years later the same kids would come to court and this time it was a fight involving a knife…A few years later I saw these same kids come to court and they were being charged as an adult, looking at state prison, maybe even life in prison,” he said.


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