The Brentwood and Crestview neighborhoods are in the middle of a gang tagging wave. The City of Austin and Parks and Recreation are aware of this and working with us to both control it and prevent it from getting any further out of hand. However, they can only do so much. A new Yahoo group has been created for neighbors who are interested in helping stop this blight via a grassroots effort.
The Violet Crown TAG (Together Against Graffiti) Team can be found here: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VCTagteam/
If you would like to help paint over existing tagging, report tagging that you have seen, suggest ideas for prevention or simply stay informed and active regarding this issue, please join us! A group of committed neighbors is often the very best line of defense!
*Please know that the bulk of this tagging is gang tagging. However, most of these gangs ARE made up of juveniles whose main concerns are graffiti, petty theft and drugs. No one need be concerned that gun-toting gang maniacs are parading through our 'hood. Drug dealing is a serious crime though, and we want to make sure that these kids know that our neighborhoods WILL NOT tolerate drugs or drug dealing of any kind in our park or on our streets.
FAQ Regarding Tagging:
Q: Who do I call if I see that something has been tagged?
A: You want to do a few things. 1. Call 311 and request that a police report be filed. This is VERY important as it shows APD what's happening in a certain area. 2. Ask 311 to have someone come out and clean it up ASAP (this is free even for private property) UNLESS you have already cleaned it up or covered over it yourself. 3. If possible, take a picture of it just in case it gets removed or painted over before the police can get there. It is helpful for them to see who made the tag. 4. Keep an eye out on the affected area. Taggers often return to the scene of the crime to see their work or to see if someone has tagged over it. 5. Call 911 if you see someone hanging around the spot. Of course, you must be sensible; you certainly can't call every time someone is waiting at a bus stop, for example.
Q: Can I paint over tagging that I see?
A: YES, you can! Please do, in fact. Please try to match the paint if at all possible. We are working to get paint from the city that we will keep on hand here in the neighborhood. If you need paint, just ask on the listserve or on the new TAG Team listserve and someone can help you. Lowe's and Home Depot carry lots and lots of spray paint in various colors. The metallic silver is very good for posts. There is also a red that supposedly matches STOP signs well. They also carry a few removal products. DO NOT USE REMOVAL PRODUCTS ON REFLECTIVE SIGNS. If you cannot cover up or remove the tagging, please call 311 and explain that you have tried, but to no avai,l and you need someone to come out ASAP. Please explain to them that your neighborhood is in a tagging wave and you need it clean up as soon as possible, please.
Q: Are the gangs dangerous?
A: Probably not at all. They are mostly comprised of kids, but the police do believe that there is drug dealing involved and that takes things to another level. Drug dealing in Brentwood Park and on our streets will not be tolerated and must be stopped.
Q: What can I do to help?
A: Lots of things!
1. Join our task force - The Violet Crown TAG (Together Against Graffiti) Team is a new Yahoo group set up to give concerned neighbors a place to talk and brainstorm. Please consider joining if for nothing else than to stay informed: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/VCTagteam/
2. Get out on the streets and in your park! A busy and active neighborhood shows gangs that there are lots of eyes and ears around. The more empty and quiet the streets are, the easier it is to tag.
3. Call 911 if you see suspicious activity. We have a lot of street traffic in our thoroughfare neighborhood. People are different; they look different, they dress differently, they act differently. Just because someone doesn't look like you, doesn't mean they're a criminal. Please use good judgment.
4. Clean up tagging as soon as you see it. The number ONE thing that helps contain tagging (other than catching the taggers) is to cover it up as soon as it happens. It's simply a battle of wills. When the taggers see that we are busier than they are, they'll go somewhere else...or not.
Q: Will the tagging end? Will we win?
A: Probably not. It's imperative that we look at this as a beautification project and NOT as an "us vs them" scenario. We want to show that our neighborhood is loved and well-cared for and that we are an active and involved community. Whether we "win" or not is secondary. It does a 'hood good to beautify all the time, not just when faced with issues of vandalism.
Q: Can I still post on the main listserve about tagging?
A: Of course! The new TAG group is just another avenue for communication. The tagging issue WILL die down and the TAG Team was formed so that a few people can stay involved and on top of the problem even after the initial momentum has died down.
Thanks for caring about your lovely neighborhood!