Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Tagging Part 1: We Are Surrounded by Gangs!

I had a meeting this morning with Leslie Canada, Officer Morales and Officer Chavez at Central Command about tagging and graffiti. I had asked to meet in order to learn more about the profile of the tagger, the meaning of the tags and more especially how it impacts our Newman Park neighborhood. What I found out I will spend a few days discussing.

One thing that I learned for sure is that, when any of us see tagging, we should report it to the police first and only and let them report it to Streets for cleaning. This way the police can gather evidence and evaluate patterns and may possibly head-off gang turf wars and violence.

The non-emergency number for the City of El Paso Police is 915-832-4400. If you see tagging in progress, call 911.

Our neighborhood is surrounded by various gangs. The tagging that we see in the Newman Park area is the work of various tagging crews usually for competitions or for practice. Different gangs will engage in competitions to see who can do the most tagging, tag in the most dangerous areas, and tag with the largest letters. Smaller letter tagging is a definite sign that the tagger is practicing.
The picture above was taken over a year ago. It is the wall of the McKee Mansion along Louisiana. You can see the gang tags (in different colors) for Central Cocha and X3 Caos. Gangs use tags to mark territory and to engage in territorial disputes.
Some of it may seem benign - but none of it is. Gangs are linked to the drug trade that has taken the lives of nearly 2,000 people in Juarez. Young lives are drawn into this life by virtue of neighborhood or need to survive. "Jumping" into a gang is dangerous initiation but not as life-threatening as "jumping" out.
More tomorrow.

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