Fighting fires and gang life

In the face of blazing brush and forest fires, Ramon Maestras is a heroic fire fighter and admired team player. But in Echo Park, the 23-year-old is known as a gang member known as Little Ray, his head tattooed with a woman’s red lips and “90026” inked across his stomach. The LA Times profiles him in a front-page story today as he struggles to escape gang life as part of a Lincoln Heights-based gang intervention program, Aztec Rising. He’s motivated and willing but it’s not going to be easy to leave his E x P life behind:

“He keeps his head shaved, and “Echo Park” is scrawled across one soot-stained glove. ‘I gotta watch my ‘hood ways and my bad mouth.I cuss too damn much.'”

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