I took the following photos with my iPhone early this morning in my parking garage in downtown Oklahoma City, and web-posted them to Flickr:

Vandalism in my downtown Oklahoma City parking garage this morning

The "signature" for the vandals?

Someone or some group (apparently last night) broke off the wooden barrier which controls entry into the 5th Street Parking garage, right across the street from the YMCA. This appears to be a signature by “TRAK,” note the arrow pointing from the name down to the broken barrier.

By 8 am the broken barrier had been removed but the graffiti remained. I am not sure if “TRAK” is the name of an Oklahoma City area gang, but that seems likely. This past July, someone threw a rock through my window as my car was parked in this garage, and no one ever discovered who the culprit was. I did file a police report.

Someone threw a rock through my car window in my Oklahoma City parking garage

The garage managers sent out a letter recently that surveillance cameras were being installed in the garage: Hopefully those were in place to capture last night’s vandals on film.

In November 2006 at our state health conference I heard representatives from the US Dept of Justice Anti-Gang Initiative for the Eastern District of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma City Policy Gang Unit address gang issues and problems in the Oklahoma City area specifically. It was an eye opener. Unfortunately at the time they would not grant permission for an audio recording of the session to be shared online as a podcast. I’d like to hear a similar presentation now, updated for our current situation.

Apparently, gang related graffiti and vandalism continues to be a problem. :-( I feel pretty certain this is just the tip of the iceberg.

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On this day..

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  • http://karynromeis.blogspot.com Karyn Romeis

    Hmm. Vandalism as art?

    In the UK, if there aren’t great big signs warning a person that CCTV cameras are in operation, you can’t use any evidence thus obtained.

    What I’ve always wondered is – what if the signs are vandalised? If you can’t prove that they weren’t vandalised before the misdeeds recorded, does the evidence remain inadmissable?

  • Jason

    I’m not familiar with your area, but I’d be wary of jumping to conclusions here. The tag you photographed might be merely that: a tag. It may not be tied to a gang at all. If you do some net-sleuthing for “Trak” you’ll find that some people consider it to be a synonym for gun, and in NYC there was a graffiti artist who went by the name Trak. Also, the use of the arrow is common in graffiti and may not have been pointing at anything, as you can see in some of there images here: http://www.ni9e.com/graf_taxonomy.php

    Gang violence is definitely something we need to watch out for, but there are plenty of petty vandals out there with sharpies and the strength to break your gate.

    As an aside, I lived in an apartment building where we had a large parking garage. We had numerous thefts there because once the criminals realized that nothing would be done, they came back. From two cars having their tires and rims stolen, to a car having it’s hood taken, to another vehicle having all four doors removed, and an audi having it’s headlights stolen we saw a lot of theft and vandalism to the security gates. This is the type of thing that escalates once it’s begun, so please be watchful and careful.

  • http://mindoh.wordpress.com Amy Strecker

    Gosh! Sorry to hear about this. I live in a southern rural community, stereotypically thought of as a “safe” small town. However, as I taught here the last two years, it was interesting to see the influx of students who got sent from the “big cities” to small town life to clean up their acts. Sadly, they often brought their gang affiliations with them. The idea of gang culture is also playing into creating a negative unity around the small communities within the vast open space we call home. Perhaps because there aren’t many positive things to unite around in the school culture here, kids are looking for that sense of camaraderie and belonging elsewhere?

  • http://www.matthewktabor.com Matthew K. Tabor

    Commenter #2 is right – that this is “likely” the name of an Oklahoma City gang is off-base. This is a simple tag. Unfortunate that your parking garage was victimized, for sure, but you’ll need a bit more evidence before you can declare that this is gang-related.

    You’d be surprised at how many wealthy, white, educated kids – along with every other label that stands in contrast to gang stereotypes – have their own tag, as well as aspiring urban artists.

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