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.

Sureno 13 MySpace Layouts

I noticed an up-tick in Sureno 13 Google search referrals after the Gang Activity in Longfellow Park post went live.

A quick check showed that the park board member who sent out the memo misspelled Sureno as Sureneo. As I understand it, the term is actually Sureño, so her spelling was phonetically correct.

A little more Googling the gang name led me to a site wehre I could pimp my MySpace profile with Sureno 13 themes! It doesn’t get much more gangsta than that.

Sureno 13 MySpace Templates

It turns out you can also buy Sureno 13 ringtones:

Sureno 13 Ringtones

Gang Activity at Longfellow Park

Apparently, some gang members didn’t get the memo that gangs aren’t welcome to the East of Hiawatha.*

via SAFE 3.4:

I am writing in regards to a gun being recovered at Longfellow Park on Sunday, October 21st.

On Sunday, October 21st, a park officer responded to a disturbance call to the park. When he arrived, he observed a group of Sureneo 13 gang members having a meeting. The officer noted that the garbage can nearby appeared to have been moved. When he checked under it, he located a loaded revolver. The group was then all searched, ID’d, and released. No further weapons were found. The gun was inventoried and will be held for prints.

But the main reason for my email is to have you possibly share this with your email lists/block club leaders especially the ones located very closely to the park grounds. We need all their help and assistance to deter this type of activity in our neighborhood. They apparently have been meeting a majority of the time during the late weekend hours (when the park is not open and no staff are present). The police are asking the community to just call 911 when they suspect anything out of the ordinary.

Please give me a call also – so we can briefly chat and if you have any questions or concerns.
Thank you very much for your cooperation,

Nikki Friederich
Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board
Recreation Supervisor
Longfellow Community Center
3435 36th Avenue South
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406
612-370-4957 (Voice)
612-722-3828 (Fax)

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* This is not meant to suggest that gangs are welcome to the West of Hiawatha, but reflect on the thoroughfare’s arbitrary boundary between Longfellow and neighborhoods to the west.

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.”