A French street artist recently turned an Echo Park industrial building into an arts landmark by plastering a giant mural on the front of the Glendale Boulevard structure. That same building had also served as the location for another large but less welcome piece of street art, a giant gang tag – “FTW” – scrawled on the back of a rooftop billboard. FTW stands for “Fuck the World,” the name adopted by a street gang along the border of Echo Park and Silver Lake, said LAPD officer Al Polehonki. Polehonki called the billboard company, CBS Outdoor, about 18 months ago to have the gang tag – visible from nearby homes as well as southbound motorists on Glendale Boulevard – painted over (northbound drivers get to see a “Nurse Jackie” ad on the front of the billboard). He had no luck.
“It’s basically a big F-U to everyone else in the community,” Polehonki said.
FTW started off as a tagging crew but eventually became known by the LAPD as a criminal street gang after committing numerous felonies, said Polehonki, who serves as the Senior Lead Officer for Silver Lake. The gang has been relatively low key in recent months following some arrests but its name still loomed large over the very neighborhood where it caused trouble. Polehonki wanted FTW erased to “take away that element of fear that it still represents.”
After a recent drive down the 2 Freeway, Polehonki noticed that the FTW tag was still on the billboard near Glendale Boulevard and Branden Street . While the back of the billboard remained tagged, ads on the front continued to be changed, Polehonki noted.
Polehonki called The Eastsider about the matter on Saturday. On Monday, The Eastider contacted the public relations department of CBS Outdoor to find out why the tagging had not been cleaned up. By Tuesday, 18 months after Polehonki called in the graffiti, the FTW tag was gone.