A war between Denver graffiti tagging crews has sparked the type of murders, knife fights and drive-by shootings usually associated with more established violent gangs, repors the Denver Post. Police say a clash between competing tagging crews has caused at least two homicides. An innocent bystander also was shot in the leg. Members of one southwest Denver family targeted in a drive-by shooting say they are so fed up they’ve put their home on the market.
Until recently, the city’s graffiti problem was considered a minor problem. But police now view graffiti as a gateway crime that can funnel offenders to gang activity and serious felonies, including homicide. The war between two Latino graffiti groups is the most extreme manifestation of the problem, according to police. In the clash between WK, which stands for World Klass or Wreckin Krew, and EMS, short for Envy My Style or Evil Minded Soldiers, just crossing out a rival’s tag on a wall can warrant a stabbing or drive-by shooting, members of the gang say.