ROGERS PARK — A 50-foot-long stretch of brick wall on Albion Avenue has become a canvass for a "graffiti war" between Latin Kings and Gangster Disciples, said neighbors who live nearby.
The wall of a nondescript taxi garage in the 1600 block of West Albion Avenue, just west of Clark Street, had been hit with large graffiti tags throughout January, said Pat Kenny, a CAPS beat facilitator for the area who also lives a block away.
"The Latin King stuff went up first," he said. "A week ago, the Disciples, they put up some of their own and they defaced the Latin King stuff — I’m getting nervous something could be brewing."
Neighbor Rich Mayszak said in the past 60 days he's photographed more than 10 areas that had been hit with graffiti near his home, including the wall on Albion.
He called it a "graffiti war."
Rogers Park Police Cmdr. Thomas Waldera said he was aware of the reports of graffiti and that his office was tracking where it popped up.
"If you see one gang's graffiti in another gang's territory, that could be a precursor to violence," he said, adding that it's "not a new problem" in the district.
Ald. Joe Moore (49th) said there hadn't been an uptick in reports of graffiti to his office, but that the graffiti on Albion — which borders his ward — had been scheduled to be cleaned.
Tim Tscarnecki, Ald. Pat O'Connor's 40th Ward chief of staff, said reports of graffiti had increased recently and that the cold weather had prevented crews from reaching the reported sites.
On Albion, symbols associated with the local gangs — such as the crown of the Latin Kings and the six-pointed star of the Gangster Disciples — were painted in overlapping black, red and blue paint.
The graffiti stretched across an alley onto an apartment building.
Shopkeeper Josefina Salgado, who works across the street, said the tags had been there at least a month.
"This is going to take a lot of work," Kenny said. "Now it’s started to go down the alley."