“Sometimes tough love is the answer”, says Chocolate, 73.

Walking along El Barrio I came across Chocolate. He was sitting on a chair in front of the Bodega people-watching. I begin a conversation with him about how long he’s been in the neighborhood and how much I can imagine he’s seen it change.

What would you say changed the most in this neighborhood?

“The lack of respect between adults and neighborhood children. Back in the day, somebody in the neighborhood would have beat their asses straight.

I left Loíza, Puerto Rico in ’55. Growing up in El Barrio when I did, the City streets taught me real quick. You make a mistake and the streets WILL make you pay for it.

I sit in front of this Bodega everyday watching the new generation. These young men play with guns, taking lives like nothing. Back in the day, the neighborhood would have beat their asses straight.

Not saying violence is always the way. Putting fear in these young men would make all the difference. They need to know there is consequences. Real, concrete consequences. And, not every situation deserves a scared-straight beating. I’m talking about these out-of-hand young men playing with guns. I know it’s a jungle in these streets. I left Loíza and arrived here when I was ten. I know how these streets can be.

Pero, están pasao. These young men are taking lives over nothin’, for no reason. They need to be corrected. They need to be guided. They need to be reached. Back in the day, the community would get involved. They’re scared of these kids now-a-days. If I wasn’t 73, I’d do it  myself. I just want peace en mi Barrio. “

Thank You for your Bendición, Jorge Luis “Chocolate”.

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