You may remember a post back in January when I took many gang graffiti pictures around South Oklahoma City. This post had become a hostile place for rivals to post their hatred toward one another. It got so bad that I had to disable the post. At that time, I never realized that we had much of a problem other than the graffiti. This week, the History Channel’s Gangland profiled a local gang, the South Side Locos and their hatred for another gang, Grande Barrio Centrals (GBC). The above video is that program that was on television. I know that many times the media tends to exaggerate things and that may be the case here as well. I do however remember a couple of the events in this video happening. We often hear about a shooting on the South side on the news but when it is reported on TV we never hear what it was about. Most people ignore it because there are always going to be shootings on the news.
I was surprised to see this video on a national network. For one thing, I never thought it was that bad around here. Another thing is that I am not sure how wise it is to give them coverage on a national stage. It is hard to imagine what positive things could come from this type of exposure. In my opinion, this exposure can do nothing more than inflame the situation. In the entire story, they consistently put down this GBC gang. Although I am not really familiar with either of them, it does not take a rocket scientist to understand that the GBC’s are likely going to be offended by this program resulting in even more violence. On another front, I am not too sure that any city chamber of commerce wants this kind of publicity. When you have your city profiled on a national network for gang activity, it turns potential new residences away. I mean, people that just want to live in peace are not likely to want to move to a place that is on national TV for gang violence.
Although I do think this program does exaggerate the situation to some degree, there is no denying their is a gang issue on the South side. If you drive anywhere from I-35 West to May Avenue, and between 15th down to 59th, the graffiti is very prominent. I have seen entire buildings that are painted over from the ground to the roof as displayed in the photo below.
In the picture above you can see on the bottom right where someone has posted LK for Loco Killer. Someone quickly changed the L to a C for Central Killer. These two gangs are talked about in the video above. These two gangs are not the only ones in the area but they are the ones that are profiled in this program. The photo above is just one small example of the tagging that has taken over the South side. It is sad to see the constant vandalism that has taken over this area. I have always seen small areas of graffiti around but it was quickly covered up. It is so bad lately that it would take thousands of dollars just to cover up what is already there. I have always been proud of my home town but this is the sort of thing that no one wants for their town.
One of the sad things about all this is that I have actually heard people defend the vandalism by calling it art. It is not art when they are destroying other people’s property. If they want to paint up their own house then so be it but leave other people’s property alone. I first read about this story on the OKCTalk web site. They were posting about the show being on at the moment but I missed it. I found it on the Internet and thought I would post it here.
Hopefully in my idealist world, the people will see this and take a stand to clean up the problems. Unfortunately it will likely result in more hostility between two groups that are being ‘dissed’ on national TV. That is likely going to be the end result of this program’s airing. It will make them even more emboldened where the tax payers are less safe and end up being stuck paying to repair all the damages. I hate to be so cynical but the media coverage paints a rosy picture as though there is nothing wrong. Our local media does not even know their is a South side. One thing that I have noticed about this city is the enormous blinders that are on. Our city has a North side that tends to reap most of the financial benefits that come with having one of the lowest unemployment numbers in the nation. There are lots of great stories about how our economy has faired well in this downturn. I have met people on the North side that have not been to the South side in 20 years. They have lived here their whole lives and do not even know where some of the main streets go through. It is this vacuum of knowledge about what is going on around them that keeps these problems out of the media.
The local media is almost exclusively comprised of North side residence. I work with people that live on the North side that do not even know about the things that go on in the South side. I do hold a little hope that having a national television exposure will wake up those in our local media so that the tax payers will know what is going on. I sometimes think it is sort of like that awkwardness that people experience when they are at a red light and there is a homeless person standing there holding a sign. It is too easy to stare straight ahead and pretend he is not there. It is easy for our locals to pretend our problems are not there and ignore it because they live in their expensive home on the North side. We do not want these types of stories getting national attention because it only exacerbates the problems. I still love my home town and hope to see it retain its family values roots. I do not want to see it become a den of crime to a point that no one wants to live here.