The second story follows Edgar Bolaños, whose mother sent him back to El Salvador, naively believing he will be safe from the world of gangs that killed his brother, but the L.A. gangs were in El Salvador, too.
In one image Bolaños holds a baby.
“I want a family of my own, but first I need a house, a job, I need a future,” he said.
This never happened for Bolaños. He was killed in 1999.
The images of Diaz and Bolaños were part of De Cesare’s work documenting the rise of street gangs in Los Angeles, specifically the Salvadoran gangs.
De Cesare said she wants people viewing her images to take away a better understanding of why people get involved in gangs.
“Wanting to do criminal things isn’t the first reason,” she said. “There is something else there and we aren’t addressing that. It is more about emotional and psychological scars.”
De Cesare said many just want someone who will listen and be compassionate to their struggles.
“Edgar was trying to find someone who had a sympathetic ear,” she said. “He was very protective of me. I was never afraid. We need to care more than we fear.”