16 August 2008

Darren 'Bo' Taylor has died

Darren "Bo" Taylor, a former Los Angeles gang member who became a peacekeeper respected by street toughs as well as by law enforcement and community activists struggling to reduce inner-city violence, has died of cancer at 42.

After the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Taylor founded Unity One, a grass-roots organization that attacked gang violence through life-skills training as well as through conflict resolution on the front lines.

Taylor was a consummate mediator, whose years as a Crip gave him credibility and insight into problems that had divided the community and law enforcement into warring camps.

When the Los Angeles County jails were roiled by race riots five years ago, Taylor quickly assembled the gang leaders responsible for the violence and persuaded them to call off the fighting that left dozens injured.

He later led a program in the jails that reached 3,000 inmates with sessions to increase cultural awareness and impart concrete skills for managing anger and resolving conflict nonviolently.

Bo joined a gang at age 14. He graduated from Los Angeles High School and at 18 joined the Navy. After four years, he was honorably discharged and returned to the city but drifted back into criminal life when he could not find a job. Involved in drug trafficking, he recalled being shot at seven times in one month in the same phone booth.

After repeatedly dodging death, he had a spiritual awakening and decided to change course. He figured he had attended 200 funerals of victims of street violence and, as he told National Public Radio last year, he "couldn't cry no more."

Text taken from an article by Elaine Woo, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
August 13, 2008

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