A Forest Park teenager, accompanied by his parents, recently came to the Forest Park police station to report that he had been responsible for some of the recent graffiti at the village playground at 16th Street and Circle Avenue.
Several gang related tags, which police believe were painted between July 10 and 17, were recently found at the playground. The teen, whose name was not released due to his age, admitted to drawing five point stars, crowns, and other gang related symbols.
“From what we can tell he had no known gang affiliation,” said Deputy Police Chief Tom Aftanas. “He said he was just writing stuff that he believed was gang affiliated.”
The teenager also told police that a friend, who also was not named, had been responsible for several other writings, including tags reading “Latin Reapers,” “5 poppin’ 6 droppin,'” upside down pitchforks and other symbols considered disrespectful to the Gangster Disciples street gang.
The youth was contacted by police and came to the station with his father to be interviewed. He first claimed to not know anything about the graffiti, but then admitted to being present when the tagging occurred but said he did not do any of it himself.
Police reported that the tags found at the playground included several indicating disrespect to the Latin Kings, many of which were changed by other vandals into tags disrespectful of Latin Kings rival gangs Two Six and Gangster Disciples.
After a spate of graffiti tags at the Park District of Forest Park facility, 7501 Harrison St., and at several homes throughout the village in April, police reported that they had reason to believe the tags may have been the work of a group of Proviso West High School students who had been recruiting in Forest Park.
Since then, both gang related and non gang-related tags have sporadically been reported in town, leading to concern among residents that gang problems from Maywood and the West Side of Chicago might be spreading to Forest Park. Most of the tags, however, indicated affiliation with Hispanic gangs, lending support to the police department’s suspicions concerning the Proviso West group.
Aftanas, however, said that the incident at the playground did not seem to be related to that group, confirming that both teens were, in fact, residents of Forest Park. The two teenagers were issued local ordinance citations for vandalism and damage to village property. Their cases will be heard at Village Hall, 517 Desplaines Ave., on Sept. 6.