1. Exquisite Tweets from @TheTinaVasquez

    blechCollected by blech

    I just spoke to my nieces for a very long time and I am overwhelmed.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    Last year I wrote about an anti-gang program in the city of Norwalk geared toward 4th graders. I was in disbelief. Fourth grade, really?

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    Led by an ex-gang member, he told me kids in elementary school are being actively recruited, being asked, "Where you from?"

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    And surrounded by family comprised of gang members who glorify gangs. And I realized: 4th grade isn't too young.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    I grew up with stories of friends' parents killing each other. Friends' brothers getting shot by rival gangs or beat up. Getting jailed.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    My own brother was jumped into a gang and came home with a broken jaw. He had a gun in our sock drawer.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    I've covered stories where just "looking like" a gang member will get an unarmed father of 4 shot in the back by a submachine gun by a cop.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    So, when it was announced that my nieces wouldn't be growing up here, would be in a suburb in Utah... I was weirdly OK with it.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    I thought, "Just get them the fuck out of here." I was so happy to know they wouldn't have stories like mine.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    But they called me today and said a cop on their street killed his entire family in their house. The two children were their classmates.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    And I don't know how to make sense of that. I didn't know what to say to them, other than, "I'm sorry."

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    So, they may not have stories like mine, but gun violence is PERVASIVE. And I know that's obvious, but it just hit me so hard.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    Because they're just little kids, babies in my eyes, and there's nothing I can to them. I have no answers or advice. So, we sat in silence.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    I told my niece, "Are you OK? Did your school bring in counselors or anything?" And she said no, that they prayed for the family.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    No grief counselors. No talks about domestic violence or staying away from guns; just prayer.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    So, now I'm lost. I don't know how some of y'all have children. I couldn't do it, couldn't send them out into that big, bad world every day.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    Here's the news story my nieces told me about: huff.to/1aW7RSy

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez

    Now to do heavyhearted grocery shopping, followed by heavyhearted writing. Then heavyhearted dinner, followed by heavyhearted sleeping.

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    TheTinaVasquez

    Tina Vasquez