CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s supposed to be a place of fun and play for kids, but one Chicago mother said a visit to a Southwest Side playground had her photographing something disturbing – and even filing a complaint.
CBS 2’s Steven Graves explained Tuesday evening why Jaime Groth-Searle is taking action after making her discovery while out with her daughter at that playground.
“She wanted to play!” Groth-Searle said. “But yeah, it was kind of sad. Like, I usually like to take pictures of her.”
Instead, Groth-Searle was taking pictures of her 3-year-old daughter, but of suspected gang tags all over Catalpa Park, at 4324 S. Kedvale Ave. in Archer Heights.
“And I’m looking around and I’m like, ‘Oh! What happened here?’ It’s on the slides. It’s on the ground. It’s on the water fountain,” she said.
It was also on a sign, a rock-climbing wall, and even a baby swing. She counted about 11 tagged targets in all.
“It just felt like overkill a little bit,” Groth-Searle said.
It was not only an eyesore, but the meaning was also a mystery. It was three letters in a mysterious sequence.
“Someone was really desperate to let you know these were their initial or whatever it is,” Groth-Searle said.
So, what’s the deal with this specific graffiti, and have the letters been seen around the city before? We asked the Chicago Police Department, the Department of Streets and Sanitation and the Park District.
It did not ring a bell for any of them.
Bu a police source who works in the area told CBS 2 it might have been gang-related, which is why CBS 2 blurred the writings.
Groth-Searle reported it to 311 last weekend. On Tuesday, it was marked as a “completed” task in the database, and we found some tags reduced to puddles of paint – but some tags still remained.
Groth-Searle said it is an ongoing battle to stop and call attention to the toll that tagging takes on the community. She even started a group to help call out such issues.
“That’s not acceptable behavior,” she said. “And that’s not something as taxpayers and, you know, people who use those services should be OK with.”
The Park District told CBS 2 that crews will finish cleaning the park on Wednesday.