Columbus Graffiti Sends Gang Messages With Symbols, Designs

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Gang-related vandalism can be found spray painted in various areas of Columbus.

Much of it is meant to send a message, according to experts who decode the graffiti.

“You’ve got Bloods, Crips, People Nation. You've got Nortenas, Sorenos. There are some Latin Kings,” explained Franklin County Sheriff Deputy Charley Brown.

Brown took WBNS-10TV on a tour of area graffiti and explained what it means.

“You look over here towards the end, there's a pitchfork pointing down, so that's another key indicator. When they have something crossed out or that it's upside down, it's a sign of disrespect,” said Brown.

Numbers and colors represent a gang's affiliation, mark territory, or show disrespect to a rival gang.

“Some of them will also advertise drugs, issue challenges to other gangs and possibly death threats,” added Brown.

Brown said there's no such thing as harmless tagging. Even colorful bubble art, while criminal, is most likely work done by someone without gang ties.

He spends his time deciphering the layers of Roman numerals, crowns and stars left behind as calling cards.

“Originally, it was done in blue which the Sorenos were tagging that and then the Nortenos tagged over them. And then the Bloods turned around and tagged over them. So, everybody's trying to establish their territory,” Brown said.

On the street, everybody wants the last word.

“This could actually, ultimately get somebody killed on our streets because of how disrespectful it is,” he explained.

Gang members will tag businesses and residential areas all over town.

Local law enforcement said the best way to get rid of it is obviously to cover it up because the taggers want their information out.

If you take that away, you might be able to keep them away.

As long as there's an open concrete canvas, it seems gangs continue the dangerous game of outdrawing their enemies.

“They put it right over top to let the Bloods know - this isn't your territory, this is ours,” said Brown.

Brown said that eventually it will get to the point where crossing out is not enough, and the taggers could resort to violence.

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