300 Gang Tags in One Night?

Marco Fernández Landoni wrote a great article on the state of South Minneapolis graffiti for La Prensa de Minnesota, republished in the TC Daily Planet. He reports that East Lake Street had over 300 properties hit with gang tags in one night back in December, and explains that there is a new gang in the area creating a new round of turf battles:

Fighting graffiti in Minneapolis | Twin Cities Daily Planet

“Graffiti is nothing new to the area, but even though it’s nothing new, this time the amount was different. The next two weeks unfolded another piece of the reality South Minneapolis neighborhoods are living in. Three Latino gangs began marking their territory and crossing marks made by rival gangs. The first two, “Vatos Locos” and “Sur 13” have been active in the area for some time, but now there was a third player in town, “SSR” who came into the game and began marking the territory and crossing “Vatos Locos” and “Sur 13” marks. This is a clear sign that something bigger is about to happen and we could be facing a gang war that could spark any minute now.

“Vatos Locos” and “Sur 13” control the drugs and weapons dealing in the area, but now “SSR” –South Side Raza- wants a piece of the cake, which leaves millions of dollars a year in revenues.”

Graffiti Tagging: Los Angeles Style

Thanks to Kenneth for sending this over:

Student arrested in bus tagging – Los Angeles Times

A 15-year-old sophomore at the Santee Education Complex in South L.A. was arrested late Tuesday on suspicion of being the student who scrawled his nickname on the outside window of a city bus carrying Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Schools Supt. David L. Brewer, among others.Santee Principal Vince Carbino, who was also on the bus Monday, said he believed the youth had no idea that dignitaries were aboard — but looked stunned, hid his face and stopped his tagging when he saw a photographer on the bus taking his picture.

Check out the picture after clicking through. The kid is tagging the windows of a bus with people on it. People including the mayor. That’s bold.

Sadly, the mayor doesn’t think the kid needs to be hit hard for this crime. I bet the people who’ve removed hundreds, if not thousands, of tags by this one kid have a different opinion about that. A vandal is caught red-handed and you’re not going to make an example out of him?

38th St Graffiti Problem

East 38th St in South Minneapolis is one of the busiest areas for graffiti in the city as far as I can tell. The major problem area runs from Hiawatha Ave on the East to just short of 35W on the West. Businesses are tagged over and over again with gang graffiti.

Discussion of this problem has popped up on e-democracy over the past few days.

I’ve talked to some of the businesses along there. Some have largely given up on removing graffiti from their property because it takes too much time. They just rely on neighbors or the city to get around to cleaning it up for them.

In other cases, the building owner lives outside of Minneapolis and leases the building for retail. The tenants don’t seem particularly motivated to remove the graffiti and at the same time don’t seem interested in bugging their landlords about it. So it sits until the landlord receives a letter from the city telling them their building has been tagged again.

Here are six things I think they should do:

1. Install cameras and better lighting on problem buildings like the antique train building.

2. Commission murals on as many buildings as possible.

3. Add signs saying, “Smile, you’re being recorded” to the walls where they’re most often tagged.

4. Insist that remaining buildings standardize on one color of paint and have building owners sign off on immediate cover-ups of any graffiti on their property.

5. Better publicize graffiti arrests in the schools. Gang graffiti is generally done by a younger crowd. Let prospective taggers know the risks of engaging in this behavior.

6. Follow up with people who report graffiti letting them know it’s been been removed. Make them feel like they’re making a difference.