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Gang grafitti mars city building
Thursday, 28 December 2006
Members of an organized gang likely painted graffiti on the side of a Diamond Avenue business building, Hazleton’s mayor said Wednesday afternoon.
Lou Barletta said the graffiti, on the south wall of the Dollar General building, “appears to be a type used by the Crips.
“We are going to investigate it.”
The Crips gang, originating in Los Angeles in the late 1960s, has been involved in various crimes there, according to the Web site
Crips “are mostly identified by the blue color worn by their members. What was once a single gang is now a loose network of ‘franchises’ around the United States. The gang is primarily composed of African-Americans,” the Web site states.
“The gang has an intense rivalry with the Bloods. They are also known to feud” with Latino gangs, according to the Web site.
Barletta said some of the words and phrases left on the building appear directed at him.
“It was obviously directed toward me … That’s OK. It just reinforces my priority on the new police that we’ll be adding to the force,” the mayor said.
Barletta said Chris Orozco, the police department’s Spanish-speaking detective, has been assigned to investigate the vandalism, which was apparently discovered on Wednesday.
The police department is also gathering intelligence on gang activity in the area while putting officers through “gang resistance education” training.
Patrolman Brian Schoonmaker, who joined the police department in 2005 after serving as an officer in Freeland, has completed the training, the mayor said.
“We hope to have a gang unit in place [within the department] to make life as miserable as we can for any gang members here in Hazleton,” Barletta said.
Barletta earlier this year led a team of volunteers who painted over graffiti spray-painted on buildings near the Pine Street Playground.
He said he was notified of the latest graffiti vandalism on Wednesday.
“Some of it was directed toward myself,” the mayor said.
Police are collecting “intelligence on individual gang members” and Barletta said “we’ll be chasing them out of Hazleton.”
Vandals have painted graffiti on many buildings in the city and West Hazleton over the past several years, often targeting the rear walls of business buildings and abandoned structures in poorly lit areas.
Graffiti was also painted recently on the rear of an abandoned gasoline station adjacent to the Dollar General store.