Eric Espinoza

Eric Espinoza playing the guitar

Oak Park resident Eric Espinoza never imagined he would get robbed right in front of his school for wearing his class ring.

“I was walking home from school when three guys came up to me and one grabbed me and pulled a knife out and put it to my neck,” Espinoza said. “ They took my class ring, my chain, and my bracelet.”

Espinoza has lived in Oak Park for 20 years.

“I moved here from Hanford with my parents when I was two years old,” said Espinoza, “I’ve lived here ever since.”

Being robbed hasn’t been the only issue Espinoza has had to deal with.

“When I was walking home from school in 8th grade I got jumped for wearing the wrong color,” Espinoza recalls. “Four guys attacked me but luckily a lady was there and stopped them.”

Despite these incidents, Espinoza thinks that Oak Park isn’t as bad as everyone perceives it as.

“I think it isn’t as bad as people think, I mean when I tell people I live in Oak Park they’re like ‘Oh really that sucks,’ but it isn’t that bad. I like my neighborhood,” said Espinoza. “Yes, I have issues, but who doesn’t have issues in their neighborhood?”

During his spare time, Espinoza likes to play the guitar and goes to the park.

“I like going to the park and my daughter loves to go play,” says Epinonza. “I love play the guitar I have been playing for three years.”

Espinoza doesn’t like how people neglect Oak Park or dismiss it just because it is “ghetto.”

“One thing I dislike is how we get different treatment or stuff just because of where we live,” said Espinoza. “Like,  if you go to a park in Land Park it’s beautiful, but our parks are all full of trash.”

Espinoza has lived here nearly all his life and doesn’t plan on moving anywhere.

“I plan to live here for the rest of my life,” Espinoza says proudly. “I love Oak Park but I wish there was more people like me that wanna make a change .”

He likes that more and more community gardens are being made on empty lots and he wishes there could be more of a positive look on Oak Park.