Last Friday, we told you about one Rockford neighborhood on the southeast side that's been the target of increased gang graffiti, buildings, fences and street signs heartlessly spray painted. But this week, Rockford Police nabbed five suspects, how do residents feel about the arrests, and how is the community working to erase the gang violence?
Dyann Chouinard is just trying to make a living, working long hours at her restaurant, Brooke Road Grill, and nothing could be more disheartening then finding her building spray painted with graffiti, it didn't just happen once but nine times in a month and a half.
"The past few weeks have been heck around here, coming in and seeing that on the building all the time. People don't want to come in because of that on there, and I don't blame them...I wouldn't either," says Chouinard.
This week, Rockford Police arrested five juveniles between the ages of 12 and 14, who were behind the vandalism. Deputy Chief Greg Lindmark says the arrests are an example of the police, and the community is working together. South side business owner Bob Ellison agrees.
"I'm obviously glad the police department was really concerned about the problems we've had on this end of town. So, I was very grateful for the activity and effort the Rockford Police Department, and Greg Lindmark, put forth in this effort," says Ellison.
Ralph Hawthorne, director of Ceasefire Rockford, says gang graffiti is a sign that there's gang presence, and the community needs to wake up.
"Stop turning our backs, stop pulling our shades, and saying, you know, it's not happening in my neighborhood, I don't care. But we need to mobilize, that's something Ceasefire has been trying to do all along, to mobilize the community together," says Hawthorne.
"People need to be proactive, work with the police department and be concerned, not just about yourself, but about your neighbor," says Ellison.
Chief Lindmark says more arrests are anticipated.
"I'm glad they got them, and I wish they'll get all the rest of them," says Chouinard.
Four of the juveniles' were charged with felonies, one was charged with a misdemeanor.
Some of the suspects are still being held in the juvenile detention center, others were released to their parents.
Why do gangs use graffiti? There are several reasons, including:
1) To mark territory
2) Intimidate residents
3) Communication non-verbally
4) To challenge other gangs
5) To display strength or status.