Thursday, 2 October 2008

ONE INDICATOR of gang membership is tattoo art

Gang graffiti, he said, is one of the first indicators of a gang presence and serves as a warning and a challenge to other gangs. While the graffiti may identify a gang explicitly, its color may also be an indicator. For example, Zuleger said, MS-13 often uses blue paint, while other gangs use red or black. One color of graffiti painted over another color can indicate a rivalry and the likelihood of trouble in that area, he said. However, not all graffiti is painted by gang members. While more harmless "taggers" tend to leave elaborate markings, "the gang graffiti is down and dirty. It’s real quick," Zuleger said. But he asked that the public report any graffiti and let the police sort it out. "You guys are the eyes and ears out there in the community," he said. It is up to property owners to have graffiti removed, which Zuleger said can be problematic for individual homeowners. Sometimes, he said, the county’s Gang Response Intervention Team (GRIT) is able to have it removed. He said it was important to have gang graffiti removed quickly, lest the gang feel that the public has been cowed. "The quicker you get it off, they’ll move on and we see that happen," he said.
ONE INDICATOR of gang membership is tattoo art, Zuleger said. This could be as simple as the gang name tattooed in a visible place, but is often less obvious. Showing a slide with a tattoo of the happy and sad drama masks, he said, "This is very common across gang culture," noting that the design means, "Smile today because you might be crying tomorrow." Three dots under the eye mean "mi vida loca," or "my crazy life," but do not necessarily indicate gang membership. Tattoos of praying hands are common among gang members. In the case of one person who had tattoos of Mickey Mouse and an eight ball, Zuleger said the markings denoted membership in the Mexican Mafia. Zuleger warned against assuming gang membership by anyone dressed with the "gangsta look," noting that the style is common among young people. However, he said, the look is a possible indicator for parents. Some gang members do display their allegiance in their dress, possibly with gang names on jewelry or belt buckles or written under the bills of their hats. Also, Zuleger said, MS-13 members often dress in blue, while other gangs, again, wear red or black. MS-13 or 18th Street Gang members might wear sports jerseys with numbers adding up to their gang’s number. Zuleger encouraged parents to investigate their children. "Their only expectation of privacy is what you give them," he said. He gave the example of one gang member in whose bedroom police found a newspaper clipping about a slain gang member, throwing hatchets, a realistic pellet gun and a butterfly knife. More important, he said, was the teen’s book bag, which the parents saw every day. "What’s written on Knucklehead’s bag here is ‘Sniper,’" he said, noting that gang members often identify themselves based on acts they have committed or aspire to.


Related Posts with Thumbnails