‘Latin King” tags at Lafayette High School

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A week ago, someone tagged Baynes Street right outside Lafayette High School. Recently, it was washed off.

Washing it away, however, has only prompted the creation of two new tags.

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It was tough to make out the first tag originally; the only word that was clear was “Maria.” These two, however, are much more legible. “Latin Kings” and “King for life.”

The Latin Kings formed in Chicago in the 1940s, and have spread throughout the United States, forming chapters in over 200 cities in the last 60 years. Though originally started as a Puerto Rican community empowerment group, it has become one of the largest criminal networks in the country. In 2008, a New York police task force formed to address the growing Latin Kings drug trafficking in Buffalo’s West Side.

Last month, the Buffalo News reported the last member of the Buffalo chapter of the Latin King gang pleaded guilty to weapons possession, and was sentenced to 10 years with a $250,000 bail. His home on Grant Street was only four blocks from this spot.

Buffalo’s West Side, though increasingly defined by a variety of cultures from around the world, is still a predominantly Latin American neighborhood, particularly to the south and west of Lafayette High School.

Briefly scanning the Latin Kings wikipedia page has made it very clear that I’m nowhere near qualified to make statements about what these tags mean, if anything, but I’m definitely curious why they’re popping up with such frequency all of a sudden.


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