Mville bridging cultural, ethnic barriers as gang activity heats up
August 28, 2008 · Updated 9:45 AM
MARYSVILLE Because much of the recent vandalism is gang-related, the Marysville police department is calling in resources from local school districts to help deal with cultural barriers involving some local gangs who are Hispanic, Russian or Ukrainian.
A Jan. 11 meeting at the Marysville Police Department headquarters was a gang primer for folks from around the area. Because graffiti is the newspaper of the street, police can often gauge the local gang activity by noticing patterns in the tagging in a community. Gangs mark territory and insult each other with graffiti, and a dis can turn deadly, Interim police chief John Turner said.
Something as simple as that leading to something as complicated as homicide, Turner warned.
Because of language barriers many immigrant parents dont know what their children are up to, according to Ursula Ranke, who supervises efforts to teach English to recent immigrants in the Marysville School District. Ranke is on the graffiti task force to help bridge cultural barriers and she said there are 27 languages other than English used by families in her district. In 1990 there were 18 students learning English as a second language in the Marysville School District, now there are 652. Latinos make up the bulk of the increase at 64 percent, and eastern Europeans follow with
7 percent, and those numbers will continue to increase, she said, pointing to a series of charts.
This shows us that five years we might be double, Ranke said.
Often the parents rely on their children to inform them and Ranke said many of these kids try to deceive their parents during teacher conferences.
That compounds into parenting issues, Turner said, who noted that more than 60 percent of food bank clients during the holiday season were Hispanic or eastern European descent. Thats a broad measure of our diversity in our community.
Not all the gang activity is Hispanic or Russian, probably not even a majority, but police officer Bronwyn Kieland warned that recent tagging might indicate a reaction from white supremacists, as recent graffiti is slamming Hispanics in particular. While businesses rue the effect of vandalism and graffiti on the appearance of the shops, the police want to nib graffiti in the bud. The task force included a visit from Rebecca Villareal, an Edmonds woman serving on the Washington State Commission on Hispanic Affairs. The committee will meet later this month and the Marysville City Council will consider proposed legislation in early February.