News 12 talks with a true American Gangster

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News 12 at 6 o'clock, November 14, 2007

Augusta, GA---There's no question that gangs have a strong pull on our young people. Once you're in, it can be hard to break free. News 12 has the story of those who say it may be hard...but it's not impossible.

Chris Garris is a real life American Gangster. He spent 20 years of his life committed to drugs, gangs, and violence, but now it's a different story.

"I got sick and tired of being sick and tired," he says. "I finally learned to love myself. I realized that I didn't need acceptance from other people to feel whole."

It's a realization that comes too late for some. "Being a gang member, being a drug addict, being a drug dealer is a part of insanity because you continue to commit the same act and expect a different result."

The results Wednesday played out like a scene from a movie. 68 people and 400 guns were taken off the streets in a massive gang crackdown.

"You have a thing that's called super optimism. You always feel like you're better than the rest, your buddy got caught dealing drugs but you know how to do it different than him. You're not gonna get caught."

Garris calls it all a vicious circle of violence. "Gangs and drugs only has two ends: jail or death."

Dana Wideman agrees. "This is what I've experienced. This ain't what nobody told me. This is what I have experienced."

Dana is no stranger to the streets. Her son's life was cut short by the violence, and her life she says was forever changed after fighting years of drug addiction and spending eleven years in jail. "I'm a living witness and proof that you don't have to stay in the street. You can get up and do something about your life."

Her message: "Together we stand, divided we fall. As a community if we rise up in love, it has to be done in love and come together. We can clean up the streets cause I know there's nothing that God can't do."

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