LITTLE VILLAGE— Eduardo Davila wants to take the streets back from the gangs one graffiti stained garage at a time.
"I want to set an example that we can do something to clean up the community," Eduardo, 17, said. "Little Village being heavily Mexican has so much culture. We don't need gang culture seeding its way in here."
Eduardo, an intern for State Representative Silvana Tabares (D-Chicago) led one of three groups through the neighborhood to paint over gang graffiti that has blighted garages and alleys. The groups of six met in front of Tabares' office at 2458 S. Millard St. before splitting up to seek out graffiti.
He took a wrong turn or two but eventually led his team to an alleyway full of gang markings near the intersection of 24th Street and Avers Avenue. The other groups were already painting garages when his group arrived.
"It felt great seeing how much had been done, and it's a great feeling seeing the results," Eduardo said. "The community will see there are people willing to do the right thing."
Eduardo is from Darien but wants to help the Little Village community like his father who works various jobs there. When he was looking for volunteer work for the summer his father pointed him to Tabares.
Tabares has been knocking on doors since she took office in January trying to grasp the concerns of the community. One of the main concerns she found was graffiti, she said.
"They see it on their garages, businesses and on their street. They're not happy about it."
That's why she created the "graffiti club," a group that plans to meet twice a month painting over graffiti.
"We scouted some areas in the district where there is graffiti... we're going to clean it up and paint over it," Tabares said.
The volunteers found the graffiti-stained garages and asked the residents if they would like them to paint over it. When residents said "yes," the groups dabbed their paint brushes in white paint and went to work.
Tabares said residents were also concerned with safety, though she couldn't say if violence and graffiti could be linked.
"We don't assume anything, but people don't see it as a positive image. It's another issue as a state representative I'm going to try to address."