Omaha, NE - "I'm tired of how people look at North Omaha and I'm tired of how people look at us as young men."
The perception of North Omaha, to some, is an area for gangs, crime and violence. Born and raised there, for Brandon Thomas, it held true.
"When you grew up in the household that I grew up in, you don't know what you're gonna do. You know I was selling drugs, I was doing a lot of stuff I wasn't supposed to be doing."
Brandon chose gang life at a young age, and his decision landed him behind bars.
"My goal and my hopes have always been to do such a great job that people will be begging for more gang specialists."
Chevist Johnson is OPD's Gang Intervention Specialist. Dedicated to North Omaha, Johnson talks with troubled teens, families and communities. He met Brandon through his gang unit class at the Douglas County Jail.
"Chevist basically told me, there's nothing out there that could stop me from getting out of jail and becoming a better person. If I want to succeed, I can."
So he did.
"I side; I paint, clean out houses."
With the support from Chevist, Brandon started his own business called MOHAULING, for lawn and home care.
"When I got out, I just wanted to do something different and make a change and I started changing."
Now Brandon doesn't look back. He hopes his message resonates with people through north Omaha. That it's never too late to make a change.
"I was part of gangs and violence and stuff like that, now I'm just trying to put back all what we destroyed you know."