Ricky Manuel, 52, met up with his granddaughter and a friend at a South Tucson bus stop in Barrio Libre on Friday.
Manuel grew up on the Tohono O’odham reservation. He moved to South Tucson when he was in his 30s. The amount of family members he’s had in the area has dwindled over the years. They were “drug dealers and drug users,” Manuel said. “There were a lot of people dying so they left. They broke up.”
What keeps him in the area is “the community–the people.” Manuel said South Tucson is like a family, and that’s what he likes. Others, he said, “are scared to come to South Tucson because it has a bad reputation.” He explained that the area used to have a bad reputation, but South Tucson has things to do and good people. “Don’t be scared,” he said to those that are wary of the area, “don’t be scared.”
Manuel also spent time in prison twice for murder. He was 17 years old at the time of the first murder. When he was released, he killed the man that gave him up to authorities. He served a total of 18 years for the murders.
“My [now] ex-wife is looking through the key hole. The key’s right there but she can’t open the door–[the door] to prison. She can’t get in there.”
He also has tattoos representing Tohono O’odham, the Native American Brotherhood and the American Indian Movement. “It tells a story. Everything does.”