Many people do not realize the role graffiti plays in supporting a gang lifestyle and diminishing the quality of life for residents. Here is some 411 (thats information for you baby-boomers).
1. Gangs will use graffiti to identify themselves and/or their territory/turf. It's used to communicate a message: to show allegiance, as a show of power, or to challenge rivals. It is generally in black paint, but can be in their gang colors or whatever color is available at the time.
2. Gang graffiti is also used to intimidate a neighborhood and identify a gang-controlled area.
3. Graffiti can also be committed by taggers or tagging crews. Tagging is often different from gang graffiti in that it is more stylized and taggers consider themselves artist. Some adults do not believe they have to worry as much about graffiti (especially from taggers); however when a neighborhood is marked by graffiti, that graffiti indicates territorial dominance, and the entire area and its residents become potential targets for violence, because sometimes rival gangs identify everyone in a neighborhood as part of the gang. Additionally tag-bangers (those prone to violence in defense of their tag) may hit innocent bystanders by mistake.
For more information on graffiti check out this article located on the National Alliance of Gang Investigator's Associations website http://www.nagia.org/Gang%20Articles/Graffi.htm.
So... what is the simple way you can make a big difference: When you see graffiti contact local law enforcement to have it recorded and removed. Here is a list of law enforcement agencies and numbers to call:
County Unincorporated Areas, San Joaquin, Mendota, & Orange Cove - Fresno Sheriff's Department 559.262.4236 or report online here.
Clovis 559.324.2426 or report online here.
Fresno 559.621.TAGS (8247) or report online here.