[box_dark]The sad and recent stabbing and death of 15-year-old Nicolas Quiroz has deepened the vicious connection between youth violence and tagging. As many young writers in The kNOw point out, this is a cycle that requires immediate help or else it could worsen.[/box_dark]

I see wannabes tagging their nicknames along the walls of my neighborhood. I remember walking to school, early in the cold morning, around 6:30AM when the sun hadn’t even risen, and yet they were out there on the prowl for their next score.

It didn’t occur to me that the three male students wearing hoods and holding spray cans could affect my life in any way. But it hit me when I started to cross the street. A few more “wolves in another pack” crept up on the group that was already tagging and apparently had noticed that one of their names had been crossed off.

When I had glanced at the wall as I walked by, all I could make out were a few letters because the wall had been so heavily tacked with different “crews” that it almost looked like a collage featuring a variety of writing styles in beautiful colors. The two groups started a loud and obvious discussion of the crossed out name, which led to an uproar of cursing and name-calling.

Though I was standing at a safe distance, my heart was beating fast. I felt like I was a gazelle about to enter a lion’s den. Although the two groups were verbally violent, it never got physical, so I had luck on my side that day.

This experience opened my eyes as to how insignificant things can lead to a drastic emergency for salvation. I, as a teenager, never thought much about tagging. I saw it as a mere sport, a game that some youth in my community play. It is sad to me that all the innocence in the world is evolving into a new era of violence and destruction. What I don’t understand is why.

A name on a wall means no more to me than a cloud in the sky. Now that experience haunts my safety and my mind.
-Erica, 17


At school, many students tag for different reasons. If you slash a person’s name off of a wall, that person will be angry and try to find the punk who slashed him out. When I was back in high school, I saw many teenagers tag on walls, doors, in restrooms, benches, and tables. The solution to this has not been found yet, but what usually happens afterward is that the staff covers up the tagging and paints it back to restore the wall’s color.

As for gangs, I think young people get into gangs and they tag because they want to, not because they are forced to by gang leaders. It’s sad because they choose their own path, they take their actions, and the end results are never good. That is usually how it plays out.

I wonder if there is a good solution to resolve tagging and violence. Police try to stop it but it feels like it keeps getting worse. Sometimes young people have to suffer the consequences of their actions unless there is a better way to help them. I don’t know what way that is but I hope we find it soon. 
-Luis, 18


Under sour gray skies, the biggest wall of my apartment is damaged. On its rough, brown surface, white letters are sprawled across. To me, these hieroglyphic messages mean nothing – they are nothing more than a bother. Just the night before I had heard strange banging from outside my window. My worst fear came to life. Someone had tagged on my apartment.

I was appalled at the sight of it. It made me think of the incident a few months ago, where there was a shooting right outside my home. I couldn’t help but imagine if it was between rival tagging crews or not.

My neighborhood used to be quiet and safe, but it is no longer. Every time I step out from my apartment, scribbles and marks invade fresh coats of paint, covering the scribbles and marks that were there before. All this covering up, between crews, is probably the cause of the spike in crime in my area.

It is sad that people have nothing better to do than to kill each other over a few marks on a piece of property that isn’t theirs. Is that even something worth dying for?  Is it really even that deep? I almost wish I could understand why so many young people are dying or getting hurt for a useless cause. It is a shame they feel they have no other options.
-Jaleesa, 21


In nature, it is common for an animal to attack another if there is an intrusion of territory. Violent and ferocious battles are often fought with this as the central instigator. Sadly, this is something that that is seen quite often in civilized and uncivilized society.

I notice this is the case with tagging. It seems that almost every day, heated altercations occur because of tagging. People tag to mark their territories and to display their dominance over a certain area, which is why turf disputes often occur.

Recently, tagging has taken a violent turn in Fresno and has become something more closely associated to the turf wars of gang members. Tagging has led to the direct results of violence, and the violence doesn’t seem to be slowing down, quite opposite the fact. Tagging related violence has escalated and I really do find myself asking why.
-Miguel, 17


[box_dark]Take action!

Join us for a day of graffiti clean-up
Coordinated by: Center for Multicultural Cooperation
Saturday, April 2, 2011
Time: 10:00am – 12:00pm
Location: Meet at Fresno Barrios Unidos, 4415 E Tulare St across from Roosevelt High School (Cedar/Tulare)
For more information: Ue Yang or Mari Hernandez 559-445-0015[/box_dark]

The kNOw Youth Media
The kNOw works to support and equip young people with the journalism and advocacy skills they need to tell their stories and the stories of their communities.

In 2006, over 25 youth began participating in weekly after-school writing workshops where they congregated in the hallway of a two-story building in West Fresno and learned the essentials of creating media and telling their stories. The group evolved over the next five years and is now proudly recognized as The kNOw Youth Media.

Through our program, we create opportunities for our youth participants, who in turn create long-term positive change in their communities. Our approach weaves youth development and youth media innovation to produce our biannual youth publication, multimedia projects, and community forums.

The kNOw began as a project of New America Media, which was the country’s first and largest national collaboration and advocate of 2000 ethnic news organizations. In 2018 The kNOw became a project of Youth Leadership Institute.

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