When there is graffiti up on the walls of buildings in the community and one

When there is graffiti up on the walls of buildings

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When there is graffiti up on the walls of buildings in the community, and one gang has crossed out the other gang’s graffiti and replaced it with their own graffiti symbols and colors, then that is an indicator that violence could escalate. It is an act of extreme disrespect to cross out another gang’s graffiti—and these acts will result in a high level of vio- lence. The violence, depending on which gang is involved, could result in drive-by or other shootings. But, if you do not have an increase in violence that corresponds to the graffiti message, then look at other fac- tors. What movies, documentaries, news stories, and books, have recently been released? Did the graffiti come from one of these? Keep watch that the non-member gang “wannabes” aren’t starting something that will draw the real gang to attack them. Remove the graffiti after you photograph, date and log it. Gang Overview: Evolution of Today’s Urban Gangs 9
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1.10 PRESSURE LED TO UNDERGROUND GANG ROLES For a period of time in the mid-1990s, some gangs stopped wearing their gang colors and covered or burned off their tattoos, as a response to tougher enforcement. A number of states had enacted gang legisla- tion which defined a gang and imposed an enhanced penalty on per- sons convicted of an underlying crime who had some evidence of membership in a gang. The FBI had also started working street gangs in 1992 and with that came the use of federal statutes and longer sen- tences in federal prison for gang activity. The period of low-key activity by gang leaders could not last. Their power and status among the membership came from wearing their col- ors and putting up their graffiti symbols in order to claim their turf. And, in reality as in law, it is the activity that defines the gang. Law enforcement is not restricted to just classifying the gang based on colors, tattoos and graffiti. These symbols do not need to be present for there to be gang activity. Today, some of the major gangs are removing their tattoos because of the national media attention they have received, and their leaders’ resultant fear that they will receive special attention from law enforce- ment as a result. Some of these gangs have burned off their tattoos or tried to do so. Others have had a second tattoo put over them to cover up or hide their gang symbols. By these or chemical or laser means, the removal of the gang tattoo provides the gang member with a greater degree of anonymity. This concealment takes predictable forms. For example, I was asked to read the tattoos on one gang member’s body at the coroner’s office. The deceased gang member had almost successfully placed his tattoo deep under his skin. This made it impossible to read. But, he had unknowingly left a drop of ink close to the surface of the skin. This led us to check it out with the black light. His nickname was very well writ- ten in Crip alphabet deep under the skin. The message for law enforcers and corrections should be: Do not stop looking for tattoos on
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  • Winter '18
  • Salome Vejar
  • Gang

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