Early on, a doctor with a laser machine offered to donate an hour of time here and there for tattoo removal. As word spread, a huge demand was uncovered.
“Pretty soon I had a waiting list of 3,000 gang members,” Mr. Boyle said.
Today, Homeboy Industries operates a clinic open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, with three laser machines and more than 40 volunteer doctors.
Mr. Boyle said the services were part of a holistic approach to gang intervention that included mental health counseling, addiction treatment and job training. The goal, he said, is to heal former gang members.
“An employed gang member may or may not go back to prison, and an educated one may or may not go back to prison,” Mr. Boyle said. “But a healed gang member won’t ever reoffend — ever.”
Last week, Alex Carpio, a former member of the Varrio Las Lomas gang in the San Gabriel Valley, came in for his 45th laser treatment to get a tattoo across his abdomen removed.
Mr. Carpio, 42, said he started gang banging at 13. He was in and out of juvenile halls and jails. He was shot multiple times, leaving him blind, and beaten so badly that he walks with a lean. After 20 years, he’d had enough.
“I lived in a lie,” Mr. Carpio said. “I wanted to kill my worst enemies. But of course I was my worst enemy myself.”
Laser tattoo removal is said to feel like a hot rubber band snapping on the skin. Even for a former gangster, the treatments are not to be taken lightly.
“Pshh, it is beyond painful,” Mr. Carpio said with a laugh. “Yeah and I mean I’ve been through so much pain.”
Jim Wilson, a New York Times photographer, visited Homeboy Industries last week. Some of his images:
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• President Trump called Representative Adam Schiff “sleazy.” Mr. Schiff called his comments “beneath the dignity of the office.” [Politico]
• California is showing how states can make up for Mr. Trump’s recklessness on climate change. [Opinion | The New York Times]
• San Diego welcomes more refugees than any other California county. Here’s why. [CALmatters]
• A Berkeley radio station canceled an event with the noted atheist Richard Dawkins, renewing a free speech debate. [The New York Times]
• Three years after a teenage girl was declared brain-dead at an Oakland hospital, a neurologist said she’s alive after all. [The Mercury News]
• The biggest housing project in development in Los Angeles County is moving forward. It would provide homes for 60,000 people. [KPCC]
• A Stockton motorist lost control of her car while she was livestreaming on Instagram, killing her younger sister. [Merced Sun-Star]
• Drone racing is catching on. In San Francisco, a theater was turned into drone drag race course. [San Francisco Chronicle]
• Apple, Facebook and Google are using prominent architects to build spectacular symbols of their power. [The Guardian]
• A novel from the San Francisco author Andrew Sean Greer had our reviewer convulsing with laughter. [The New York Times]
And Finally …
It was on this day in 1853 that Joaquin Murrieta, the Robin Hood of El Dorado, met his gruesome end.
That’s at least according to the legend.
Much is disputed about the life of Mr. Murrieta, a Mexican gold miner who has been portrayed as both a freedom fighter and a bloodthirsty bandit.
A few facts seem certain, according to Susan Lee Johnson, a historian of the American West. Among them are that Mr. Murrieta existed, that he traveled from Mexico to seek his fortune in California, and that he was hunted for crimes he may or may not have committed.
Less clear is what drove him into a life on the run. According to the stories, Mr. Murrieta’s success as a gold prospector attracted the jealousy of white miners who beat him and raped his wife, Rosita.
Consumed with revenge, he formed a gang that robbed banks and killed dozens of men, including those behind the attack.
On July 25, 1853, Mr. Murrieta was finally cornered by a posse of California Rangers and killed. His severed head, it was claimed, was placed in a jar and displayed for paying spectators.
Legends about Mr. Murrieta proliferated in books, films and music.
Richard Griswold del Castillo, an emeritus professor of Chicano studies at San Diego State University, said Mr. Murrieta came to represent a yearning for justice at a time of rampant racism and lynchings of Mexicans.
“I think the larger significance of him is as a proto-revolutionary,” he said. “He didn’t have an ideology but he was fighting for the rights of the people against the injustices that a lot of people were feeling.”
Each July, a group in the San Joaquin Valley dons traditional attire and mounts horses for a three-day ride in homage to Mr. Murrieta. Now in their 40th year, the rides are at heart an expression of ethnic pride.
California Today goes live at 6 a.m. Pacific time weekdays. Tell us what you want to see: CAtoday@nytimes.com.
The California Today columnist, Mike McPhate, is a third-generation Californian — born outside Sacramento and raised in San Juan Capistrano. He lives in Los Osos.
California Today is edited by Julie Bloom, who grew up in Los Angeles and graduated from U.C. Berkeley.
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