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Gang Brand Extensions: Graffiti, Tattoos, and Eyebrows?

Rochelle Olson has an interesting story in the Strib about South Minneapolis gang life based on testimony at the trial of a teenager who chose to go to trial rather than plead guilty to charges worth 39 years in prison. Now he’s potentially facing a life sentence.

If you’ve spent any time between 35W & Hiawatha in South Minneapolis – especially between 26th & 38th, you’ve probably seen blue graffiti with the number 13 included in it. (It’s not exclusive to this area, but most prominent, in my opinion.)

It turns out that the “13” brand extends beyond spray painting to tattoos and eyebrow trimming.

A glimpse of gang life as trial nears end

Saldivar-Alvillar testified that their colors are blue and gray, and he reluctantly flashed the hand signs the gang members use to both promote themselves and deride rivals. For the Sureños, that means versions of the number “13” and a “V” and an “L” upside down to signify a negative connotation for the Vatos Locos. Tattoos with just three dots, often on the wristbone, signify membership. The defendant has three dots on one wrist and one on the other, signifying 13.

Caligiuri displayed a photo of Saldivar-Alvillar in which he had used a hair clipper to slash a line in one of his eyebrows and three lines in the other, again making 13.

Caligiuri asked him what the gang does, what sorts of crimes. “We’re not in a gang just to commit crimes, it’s about brotherhood, protecting one another,” Saldivar-Alvillar said.

When she pressed, he acknowledged robberies are common.

Or, for techie gang members, there’s always MySpace layout and ringtone options.

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