FBI Agent Discusses Los Angeles Anti-Gang Initiative
Special Agent Robert Clark leads the Los Angeles FBI’s anti-gang efforts. He shares his field office’s strategy in cleaning up neighborhoods.
I don't see myself separate form a lot of people that I work with and a lot of the people that I’ve met in the community. I see myself as one of them. I used to be one of them.
I grew up in the inner city. I grew up in foster care. I grew up in places where violence was rife and graffiti was everywhere and gangs were everywhere and drugs was everywhere.
Again, I personally was involved in that to some extent as a youngster but I realized very early that that was not for me.
I am the son of a murdered father. My father was a nightclub owner. And he worked for the mob. He ran nightclubs for the mob. And girls and numbers and drugs and that whole life. And that’s what my father did.
He was murdered when I was 12 years old. I was the last one to see him alive.
And I knew that my life had to matter. My life had to count. And I can relate so much to what these kids go through and what these kids see and the violence they see every day.
A story I like to tell is when I was a local police officer we conducted a search warrant. We went into the house and were yelling at everyone to get on the ground and we used diversionary devices, which are loud flash-bang-type devices. And when I got up to the bedroom to finish clearing the house there were two young children that were asleep in bed. They never woke up.
So it just said to me, what are they dealing with every day that they would not wake up when law enforcement entered the residence and yelling at everyone to get on the ground and using diversionary devices. What do they see every day? What do they go through every day?
Well, I was able to answer that question very easily because I knew what I saw every day growing up as a small child. And the impact that that had on me and how I grew up and the things that I was able to escape from, I guess you could say, really empowers me to go back and to give back.
The richest man, I believe, is the one that gives back, not the one that takes.
And when they see me, I want to stand as an example that you, too, can come from this environment, that you can make mistakes, you can fall down, that you can get back up, that you can correct your life, and you can do the right things. You can work hard and you can go to school.
I have a college education. I have a bachelor’s degree, a master’s degree, and a PhD. So, you can acquire an education. You can acquire a set of life skills that will allow you to go on in your life and be successful.
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