Tuesday, July 27, 2010


Darren "BO" Taylor

JANUARY 20, 1966 - AUGUST 11, 2008

A Better LA has launched its newest project in partnership with Unity One and its founder, Bo Taylor, winner of the California Wellness Foundation Peace Prize. Unity One’s extraordinary work over the past 15 years includes reducing violence through ceasefire agreements, “peace squads,” and classes for at-risk youth. The mission of this current project is to defeat violence and bring peace to the streets of LA. By merging Unity One’s front line work with A Better LA’s unique resources, this is a groundbreaking approach to instilling long-term success in our neighborhoods. (September 2008)

BO Taylor (42) former Los Angeles gang member who became a peacekeeper respected by street thugs and by law enforcement and community activists struggling to reduce inner-city violence. After the 1992 LA riots, Taylor founded Unity One, a grass-roots organization that attacked gang violence through life-skills training and conflict resolution on the front lines. Earlier this year, he was diagnosed with a rare cancer that attacks the tissues of the mouth; it spread to his neck and head, but he insisted on fighting it in his own way, spurning traditional medicine to seek treatment in Tijuana, Mexico. He died en route to a clinic there, in San Diego, California on
August 11, 2008.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Larry King Live 10/23/2008

(COMMERCIAL BREAK)KING: Sheriff Baca remains with us. And returning now is Jim Brown, the NFL hall of famer, who voted to stopping gang violence nationwide at his Web site, is Amer-I-Can.org.And joining us is Bo Taylor, former member of L.A.'s notorious Crips gang, now president and founder of Unity One. Unity One is what, Bo?
BO TAYLOR, PRESIDENT, UNITY ONE: Unity One is a gang intervention and prevention organization. It's dedicated to saving lives.
KING: Intervention means it does what?
TAYLOR: It goes out in the middle of the streets and deals with individuals, helping them in the transition from negative to positive in their lives.
KING: It's a proactive -- you approach them?
TAYLOR: Definitely. Oh, yes.
KING: Don't they kind of look at you as sort of don't bother me?
TAYLOR: No, actually, we've been doing it for 15 years, so pretty much everybody in L.A. County knows about us.
KING: You were a member of Crips?
TAYLOR: I -- you know what, I want to dispel something. I was involved in a lifestyle when I was a child, a kid, something that wasn't in my best interest. And I grew up without a father in my life. So I didn't have all the tools to make the best decisions in my life as a young person. However, I did end up going into the military and got an honorable discharge, came home. And a lot of the opportunities weren't there. I started blaming the system and blaming, you know, white people and blaming this and blaming that. I hated the police. But it was my own ignorance. I never understood what taking responsibility was for myself. I don't even like to stereotype and say gang members. I say they're disenfranchised youth. They don't really have all the tools to make the right decision that’s necessary in today's society, and they don't fully understand the system.
KING: Sheriff, what do you think of that?
BACA: Well, I think that everybody has their own explanation in their family, in their life. And I think that the tragedies are that we see that if Father Boyle were here as well, is that low self- esteem, not succeeding in school, family dysfunction with the father absent from the home, primarily, and then failure along the way.

KING: Jim, what do you think?
BROWN: Well, caring, Larry, it's a strange word, you know. A lot of these young men don't have anyone to care for them, no one to communicate with, no fathers. The African-American fathers are missing. I've been dealing with them since 1988. I never had a gun pulled on me, never had one put their hands on me, and I've always had my meetings at my home.
KING: You're in a little different place.
BROWN: I'm not big, Larry. It's not because of that.
KING: No, but you're a sports hero.
BROWN: Yeah, Larry, but sports heroes don't go where I go. Bo and I went to 14 gang sets two years ago to meet with them to bring about a truce on the West Side. The homicide rate is down to zip. We went together, not as big Jim Brown, but just as a concerned individual that wanted to do something in their lives. And my consistency allows me to have credibility, because I share everything with them. I don't go to the job and then go home and be with my other friends. So, you know, no fathers. You've got to have a lot of caring. I don't say love, I say caring. You've got to care about these youngsters, because they're out there by themselves.
KING: Bo, why do feuds start? Gang wars, why?
TAYLOR: Like I said earlier, people don't have all the tools to make the right decisions.
KING: So what are they fighting over?
TAYLOR: Nothing, because they don't own the territory. That's definitely, they don't own it. So -- but you know what, you find comfort like the young man said earlier, you know, Devaughn. You hang out with people who are like-minded. And when somebody else has been deprived or the door has been shut and you feel hopeless and nobody really cares, you know, it's easy to find comfort. You know, misery loves company. So it's easy. But when you're dealing with a culture that doesn't truly understand the system and has been locked out and nobody's really reached in, it's a shame in our society right now that you've got one person, you know, Jim -- I've got to say it, Jim is a surrogate father to thousands of us who really have changed their lives and wanted to make a change. But he's been consistent. And that's the thing. You've got to have somebody that's consistent and somebody that cares. But on top of that, Larry, you've got to have somebody that's going to put a system in place to teach you life management skills where you can make better decisions and live your own life and be responsible.
KING: Well said. By the way, there is a Web site for your organization, right?
TAYLOR: Yes. It's unityonenow.com.
KING: Unityonenow.com. And Jim's is amer-i-can.org. How important do you think, Sheriff Baca, Jim Brown is?
BACA: Very important. The American program is actually in the Los Angeles County jails, because, as you would expect, almost every gang member is going to hit the county jail at one point in their life. And once they get in and they're going to get released, we want them to get out with a little more survival skills. And Bo Taylor has been in there with Jim Brown, along with our good friend, Connie Rice -- she's a civil rights attorney -- and our belief is that the inmate needs to get out with some skills and be better than they were when they came in.
KING: Bo, thanks for coming, man.
TAYLOR: Thank you for having me.
KING: Bo Taylor. Jim Brown will remain, so will Sheriff Baca, and Miguel Saenz and Devaughn Townshend will rejoin us. We'll be right back.