HOWTO read gang tags and disses on LA streets

"OnCentral," a KPCC/Southern California Public Radio reporting project focused on the communities of South LA, has published a terrific series of very detailed posts by José Martinez on graffitti and gang tagging. Here's part one, here's part two, and here's part three, just published today. The latter digs in to the nuances of gang tags that indicate hostile conversations between gangs, or specific gang members; and tags that reveal the presence of Mexican Mafia or various gangs acting in collaboration with local businesses. The snapshot above shows a handpainted sign on a liquor shop in the area, bearing the name of that shop—but it contains a hidden symbol for one of these organized crime groups, suggesting that the liquor store is in cahoots. (via Tony Pierce)


  1. I see the secret symbol–to the right of the ‘s’ is the District of Columbia flag, but tilted to the orientation of the geography of the District, thereby indicating the shop owner’s support of DC statehood.  Very subtle indeed.

  2. I can practically see the LAPD proposal for a ‘Human Terrain Team’ system being drawn up…

  3. That’s really quite interesting – even if I’m glad I won’t get much mileage out of it.

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