Neighborhood residents complain about MS-13, HPD reaction

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KHOU-11’s Vicente Arenas reports that residents of an unnamed Houston neighborhood are complaining that they can’t get HPD’s brass to take their concerns about suspected MS-13 gang graffiti seriously:

Suspected MS-13 graffiti, courtesy KHOU-11

In a neighborhood that 11 News won’t identify for security reasons, a number of people are saying their property and cars have been tagged by gang members who they believe may belong to MS-13.

Graffiti like this has some Houston residents concerned that MS-13 gang members are trying to send a message.

And the neighborhood wants action from police.

“I do have a real concern,” says one resident who asked not be named.

The number 13, they say, seems to be popping up everywhere — fences, signs, you name it. That is why they are asking for help.

“I came out on Sunday morning and saw that someone had marked up my truck. It’s happened two times in less than a month.”

Six cars have been tagged since last week.

The markings were similar. All the vehicles this man says belonged to Anglos whom he believes are being targeted through vandalism and messages.

“I do have a real concern. It’s always been a real peaceful neighborhood until just the last year, I guess.”

Growing graffiti here was the first surprise. The second came when he called police for help.

“And I called the police to have them come and investigate and got no response whatsoever,” he says.

“An officer was at the scene in a handful of incidents as I stated and reports were filed with very specific information,” says HPD’s Lt. Robert Manzo.

The resident 11 News talked to says police showed up only after he contacted a council member and 11 News.

“We have contacted the captain who’s responsible for this specific area and he’s telling us he will be assigning some resources,” says Lt. Manzo.

Police aren’t sure how bad the gang problem is here. Graffiti can be cryptic or copycats trying to have fun.

From recent local reporting, we know that MS-13 is active in the Houston area. Yet one wouldn’t know that from any public statements or activities from HPD’s brass. Of course, HPD’s current manpower shortage doesn’t help, yet that doesn’t seem to be a priority for Chief Hurtt, Mayor White, or council either.

In what can only be described as a rarity, we find ourselves in complete agreement with this Chronicle editorial:

HPD’s silence might have some logic when it comes to small, attention-hungry neighborhood gangs. But gangs such as MS 13, the Crips or the Latin Kings are organized crime operations not in it for the publicity. Identifying their habits — the colors they wear, the graffiti they pen, the way they shave their eyebrows and tattoo their foreheads — can’t make these vicious gangs more dangerous. However, it will help Houston residents to protect themselves and give law enforcement agencies essential gang-busting intelligence.

To that end, we’ve reposted the suspect graffiti that appeared in the KHOU story.

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