Kilroy Roybal knows what it's like to kill another man, "I regret it and wish I'd never done it," said Roybal Thursday in Oroville. He's visiting the Northstate to speak with law enforcement and community members about how to keep young people away from gangs.
But back in the Sixties when Roybal, 75, helped start what's called the Mexican Mafia in East Los Angeles, killing a rival gang member was a source of pride. "I wanted to be somebody, and be recognized," Roybal said. "I wanted to be a part of a family, because my (real) family didn't want me to be around."
A lack of self-esteem is what Kilroy says draws young boys to gang life. For him getting out required some divine intervention. "Jesus is keeping me alive; that's no jive," he said laughing.
Kilroy is now part of the Jordan Crossing Ministries led Michael Tomlinson, who often see the gang activity in Oroville's south side right around the corner from their church. "There's Hispanic gangs on the north and south, there's the Bloods and Crypts, and white racist gangs here. There's Asian and Hmong gangs here," said Tomlinson.
According to Tomlinson, hundreds of gang bangers are in and around Butte County. But Tomlinson and Kilroy along with other former gang members and pastors are holding a reconciliation meeting this weekend in which Butte County Dstrict Attorney Mike Ramsey and Sheriff Kory Honea will also attend.
"It will not only touch the people who want to be gang bangers but it will touch the families and give them hope that there is a way out and don't give up on the youth that is believing a lie right now," Tomlinson said.
The Rivalry to Reconciliation is Saturday, April 26, at 2 pm at the Church of the Nazarene at 2238 Monte Vista Ave. in Oroville.