New Orleans law enforcement officials warn that a more dangerous crop of thugs could invade the city’s streets during the Hurricane Katrina recovery, says the New Orleans Times-Picayune. They cited graffiti spray painted by gang members and others eager to announce their arrival. New Orleans Police Superintendent Warren Riley and FBI agent-in-charge James Bernazzani said the potential for hard-core gangs to root themselves in the city is real — particularly notorious Latino gangs arriving amid a massive influx of workers.
Of a handful of Latino gang members arrested in recent weeks, police said all have acknowledged their gang affiliation but maintained they had come to New Orleans looking to earn an honest living. As gang members and street artists continue to mark their territory a block at a time, members of Operation Clean Sweep, a nonprofit program supported by the city and Police Department, has dedicated itself to scrubbing away graffiti as quickly as it goes up. “Quality of life is a very important unit to reducing crime,” said Operation Clean Sweep leader Fred Radtke. “Graffiti is the beginning of the broken window syndrome. And we want to keep that (out of the city).”