Gang graffiti

Gang graffiti. The markings let us know gangs are a real and present danger. Memphis police say erasing gang graffiti promptly sends a strong message, too. If the writing is on the wall, trouble is on the way. Officer Ronald Polk, Memphis Police Department said, "This is usually the beginning of a territory or an area or part of town that is about to be infested with gang members, gang associates and gang activity." The abandoned old Cherokee Bowling Lanes on Lamar offer gangs a huge canvas to send threats and other messages to one another: "By looking at the black spray paint, I'd say the CRIPS have been here last or most recently. Come tomorrow, who knows?" Officer Ronald Polk deciphers gang-speak for J-VAP, the Juvenile Violence Abatement Project. It's the local government response to the June 2002 drug-gang shootout on Rosamond that left innocent bystander 3 year old Jessica Borner dead. JVAP hired Officer Polk, "This is d-i-s-c-i-p-l-e-s. A lot of the letters when you deal with gang graffiti are written backwards, written upside down." Officer Polk ticks off gang names like the vice lords, folk nation, the gangster disciples. He teaches the 4 Rs of gang graffiti: read it, report it, record it and remove it. "This is issuing a statement back to the gangs that we're not going to tolerate in this community and anytime you guys come into our neighborhood and you display your territory by graffitizing sidewalks, dumpsters or what have you, we're going to take it down, we're going to remove it. We're not going to tolerate this." Gangs try to place graffiti on prime locations---hard to reach areas where graffiti won't be quickly erased. But given the importance of erasing graffiti, some local companies specialize in removing gang graffiti quickly---before the gang messages have much of an impact.