Thursday, 25 October 2012

Gang Graffiti Serving as Utilitarian Tags vs Traditional Graffiti & Tags of Winnipeg

Here is some interesting graffiti around Winnipeg that I found in the downtown area. It is interesting because it apparently indicates gang presence in the area and the gang is marking their territory. Graffiti can be a form of linguistics and discourse to indicate a number of elements. It seemed that what I found in the gang ridden areas was very plain and dull. For instance you will see the very utilitarian tag of PK meaning posse kill. This is a warning to the Indian posse to stay away from this territory, because they will be killed. There is no art to this graffiti. It is utilitarian and in fact was a little dangerous that as I was taking photos, two large gentlemen both heavily tattooed came out of some dark hovel to stare at my colleague (U of Winnipeg) and I while they started to transport a large nondescript bag.

It was near the University of Winnipeg, but they did not look like the usual students one would normally encounter in a class.  I will not mention the name of my esteemed colleague for he fears assassination from his colleagues at the U of Winnipeg for working with his colleague from the U of M. I will maintain his anonymity during our afternoon exploration gang discourse. 

This back alley had one of the homes busted in a Drug Op by Winnipeg police in Aug 2013. A 12 year old was arrested for being part of the gang and in the crack house. Quite the scene and image. The use of young children brings to mind the experiences of youth in war zone and the conversion of these youth to child soldiers. I suspect that many of the same indoctrination techniques used by rebel forces in Sierra Leone and Gangs in Winnipeg are the same. CTV Aug 15, 2013 

PS I did not take a photo of the gang members, though I did say Tansai, I received no response, but a very cold and chilling stare. perhaps they are in the army and have been posted!

The following is more traditional graffiti Art with tags attached. I found this in Osborne village just outside of the downtown core. I did not find art like this on my walk; it seems that this art is not expressed during a gang war. That is always the case of art and war. It is much more artistic, but still causes blight upon the community, but at least you know that you will not be shot or beat-up by taking photos. Many of the biz associations are taking measures to remove graffiti from their respective areas in order to maintain appearances of law-abiding orderliness. This would make for an interesting study, but......


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  2. Robert Ouellette describes the in depth discussion held with novelist Elizabeth Comack, author of Racialized Policing: Aboriginal Peoples Encounters with the Police. In her book Comack identifies the systemic racism Aboriginal peoples encounter from police. This discrimination culminates in the covertly active practice of a ‘starlight tour’, in which police detain pedestrian, usually a homeless person or an intoxicated pedestrian, drive them to the edge of the city and drop them off to walk the long distance back home. This practice was open to inquest when, in 2003 the provincial government launched an investigation into the death of 17-year-old Neil Stonechild (CTV News Saskatoon).

    Comack further identifies the racial profiling of police officers by drawing on evidence from recent local history and independently conducted interviews with Aboriginal peoples from the core of their experiences with police. Comack suggests a complete restructuring of the organization of policing to reveal any amount of positive change for Aboriginal peoples and their relationship with police officers.

    Although I agree with Comack’s restructuring approach, I believe that a more grassroots movement must be implemented foremost. As an effort to combat this systemic racism against Aboriginals, police officers in Winnipeg need to reach out to communities where this negative association with police is being perpetuated. People in these communities need to feel that they can trust police officers, yet how is this possible when perpetuated racialization is still an undertone to their daily lives? Relationships need to be built between citizens and officers to form resilience against violent crime in core communities. Police officers must do more outreach programs in schools, community centres and public events to show that they are a valuable resource to be used and appreciated, not feared and despised. If a positive relationship is formed between local officers and community members this form of systemic racialization may be eliminated in the future generations.