Gang graffiti painted on dozens of Holland buildings

7:58 AM, Jul 12, 2006   |    comments
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Holland - The last time gangs used graffiti to mark territory in Holland, residents say it led to fights, shootings and firebombs. "The graffiti started and then it got worse," says homeowner Robin Krafft. "There were fights, and then it was guns and then there were gas bombs in bottles. We don't want that." Some residents are worried because early Monday morning Latin Kings gang symbols were spray painted onto nearly 3 dozen houses and garages. "Very angry about someone doing that to my garage," says homeowner Sam Garcia. "I'm not doing that to anybody else's house so I don't like them doing that to my house." Police say there are 20 to 30 members of the Latin Kings gang in Holland. They are mostly drug dealers between the ages of 15 and 20. They use graffiti to mark their territory. "Or make statements to other gang members or to a neighborhood," says Holland Police Sergeant Kevin Mulder. "Letting people know they are there." It's not their territory," says homeowner Garcia. "This is my house, my garage. It's wrong for them to say it's their territory." The Latin Kings graffiti found on 35 buildings follows some anti-Latin Kings symbols that recently appeared on a garage in the neighborhood. Some residents believe publicity about the graffiti just adds to the problem. Homeowner Janice Korpil compares it to pouring gasoline on a fire. "This is the same thing that happened many years ago," he says. "The more publicity that was given the more the problem just exploded. The publicity needs to stop." Property owners say they are painting over the gang graffiti as quickly as possible. Neighbors say they are also working together to improve lighting and surveillance in the alleys where the gangs like to leave thier marks. "This is our territory," says homeowner Victor Vigil. "It's our neighborhood and we will try to keep them out as best we can."

Phil Dawson

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