Interstate graffiti concerns residents

March 25, 2008 9:19:55 AM PDT
Drive along Interstate 85 under the Washington Street overpass in Durham, and you may notice some cryptic words, numbers and signs spray painted on the metal and concrete.

It is graffiti that appears to send messages between at least two groups, and neighbors say it appeared there sometime over the weekend.

Robert Wilson told Eyewitness News: "Gives us a lot of pause, to think that trouble may be brewing around this area."

He and his wife worry because it looks like gang related graffiti. A gang specialist with the Durham Police Department would not comment on the graffiti, but he suggested checking online for more details.

That's where Eyewitness News found www.forestgrovenewstimes.com with information about a name repeated within the graffiti, a gang in Los Angeles called 13th Street.

There is more of the same graffiti on the other side of I-85 on a noise barrier, not far from an elementary school. The Wilsons, who have children at that school, want no graffiti or troublemakers nearby.

"We need to get it cleaned off." said Angela Wilson. "We need to show them that we're not gonna take this, we're not gonna stand for this. This is not something that we want in our neighborhood."

E-mail sent to Eyewitness News by order of Deputy Chief Ron Hodge says: "The Durham Police Department's Intelligence Unit is in the process of recording and identifying the meaning of the graffiti you reported on the Washington Street bridge." "We do not name gangs and consider any information we glean from this graffiti to be "intelligence information" and not public information.. We will have the graffiti promptly removed by the Impact Team."

Police spokesperson Kammie Michael said the department does not want to "glorify gangs."

"I have to agree with the city," said Robert Wilson. "Publicizing it is not a way to go, I'm sure the police will step up patrols around this area, and we'll just get rid of the graffiti. And everytime they put it up, we'll take it down again."

He and his wife hope that sends a firm "rejection" message to the people who tagged the bridge with disturbing graffiti messages.


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