Graffiti at School

By: James Jackson Email
By: James Jackson Email

The Gang Task Force says there have been more than 100 reported incidents of gang-related graffiti in Harrisonburg and Rockingham County since 2003.

The latest incident occurred at Waterman Elementary School on Chicago Avenue Saturday morning. People in the area are concerned about what the images mean and about the safety of their community.

The markings at Waterman Elementary represent the Crips gang. Owusu Ansah watches his sons as they play just a few feet away from a park that was also targeted by the graffiti.

He says, "You ask yourself what is the point. It worries me in the sense that it's not a good example for anyone to follow."

The images are placed near a school building and in the heart of a playground, both places where children spend most of their time, which brings up an important issue for parents: safety.

Lori Copley, a long-time teacher at Waterman, says she has known about the gang problem.

She says, "It worries me, but it really doesn't surprise me. I'm well aware that we have a significant problem in Harrisonburg with gang activity."

People in the neighborhood aren't used to seeing this kind of activity near them.

Copley says, "I don't know if they're trying to influence some of our children or it's just something that they're doing saying this is their area."

Teachers and parents hope these markings can be used to alert children of how serious a threat gangs can be.

"I think we need to be very vigilante in watching our children for any signs that there could be gang affiliations," says Copley.

Ansah says, "For us, it is something. As my son was saying, it looks like something that a three year old may write and for them it is already stupid."
Police are investigating the incident.

Maintenance staff began cleaning up the graffiti Saturday afternoon. The school's principle says the playground will be closed on Monday and that the school is vigilant about educating children on the importance of being safe.


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