Gang and advertisers no longer share billboard

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.”

Billboard after clean up

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.


  1. I don’t know which is more obscene though… the billboard AD or the billboard TAG.

  2. Oh cool the corporate graffiti won.

  3. Thanks to Officer Al Polehonki and the Eastsider for their effort in cleaning up our neighborhood! Much appreciated!

  4. Yeah for The Eastsider taking care of business! Sometimes a local voice gets heard faster than officials do. Another good reason to support the Eastsider, folks.

  5. FTW is a gang? I always thought it was a kid or two being obnoxious. Well, I guess that’s how all gangs start.

  6. Where’s Banksy when you need him?

  7. f@#k the winnies this is my hood ep

  8. @ep What does The Wonder Years have to do with this?

  9. Officer Polehonki contacted CBS & couldn’t get the matter resolved so he had the eastsider take care of it? Why not call 311 for graffiti removal? Or for that matter, call CBS back again. You’re the police, doesn’t that get their attention?

  10. FTW, it’s a cookbook!

  11. I guess they’re an internet blog-commenting gang. Neat.

  12. @Lambskins2

    Banksy really should do something down here. I’m so tired of the stupid gang tags. At least street artists contribute something to make the neighborhood look better.

  13. It’s not just YOUR hood, “ep”, it’s OUR hood. You actually have to share “YOUR” “hood” with other people! BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT MAKES IT A HOOD! Jeez…it must be tiring and stressful trying to act so hard all the time.

  14. Score one for activist journalism.

  15. No mekos there or any were on Glendale blvd only CYS get it right!

  16. Well, thanks Eastisde for contacting CBS, who seems like as soon as they heard of it took it down. But why does this make Polehonki’s story sound just a little questionable? I mean, after all, I’ve known corporations and most businesses to snap to and jump at any request by the police, even when they absolutely should not and even if they might be breaking a law to do so. Yet he couldn’t get them to do anything, and a single call from Eastsider and they snap to?

    Also, FTW is a VERY common acronym used by many. It has different meanings, but the most common for many years is that it means “For the Win.” In the past, it has been used for “Fu** the World,” but that use has kind of fallen by the wayside somewhat. Its second most common use now is by white supremicists to mean “Forever Truly White” — and that sure makes me question whether a Latino gang has taken this up as their logo — but I certainly can’t say otherwise. Social outcast gangs like bikers (remember the biker shooting a few months ago) also may use it. Its also sometimes used to mean “Free The Whales” or “Free The World” or “Feel The Wind.”

  17. That billboard has been painted so many times I’ve lost count and it’s going to be painted again unless the company or building puts in devices to keep people off of it and even then there’s no garantee someone wont still get up there. This is LA and the graffiti culture here lives to paint overpasses and signs that high off the ground because they are so visible. These vandals are very willing to risk their life and others lives to do what they do. It’s nice to feel empowered and call them out annonimously on the internet but these guys will literally die for their hoods. So please keep being vigulent but becareful if you see them call the PD don’t confront them.

  18. FTW has been used for yearrrs by many “groups” punk rockers in the 80’s etc etc so on and so forth !

    Oh and we don’t need Banksy’s stupid over rated Urban Outfitters coffee table book art in Echo Park , no thanks !

  19. “It’s nice to feel empowered and call them out annonimously on the internet but these guys will literally die for their hoods.”

    Petty and sad to risk your life for something so totally meaningless.

  20. “Oh and we don’t need Banksy’s stupid over rated Urban Outfitters coffee table book art in Echo Park , no thanks !”

    I think you’re getting him confused with Shepard Fairy. Banksy’s art actually has meaning behind it.

  21. para los de habla hispana de eastsider deveria de haver leyes como housing dep. en darles poder a los landlords de poder evictar a los inquilinos que atraen destruccion a la comunidad como van haser lo mismo a otras comunidades saber donde viven y darles un warning y si no ay cambio a una comunidad tranquila la comunidad no cambiara a soportar su tipo de vida soy padre qinta generacion y sacando a comunidad latina y no lo negativo de esta. en la calle se matan con mucho valor por algo que nomas ellos creen,y cuando estan presos se dan mucho respeto coba…, sirve tambien para apoyar a esos padres de familia que nos esforsamos en sacar adelante a nuestra gente latina, que bastante destrozan la himagen estos frustrados hijos que al separarse sus padres caen victimas. haciendoles creer que son su nueva familia, usandolos nomas para levantar el nombre de la ganga. y llegan a parar muertos o en la carcel, y ellos caminando con orgullo por la calle. cobarde mente, mientras el que demostro valentia esta muerto o en la carcel, y dejandolo desamparado, bueno quiero y amo a mi gente, paz y amor,

  22. “Oh and we don’t need Banksy’s stupid over rated Urban Outfitters coffee table book art in Echo Park , no thanks !”

    cheers jojo!

  23. Cys? U mean the dudes who get blasted on every week and go write on walls out of frustration?! Lol. Give me a break!

  24. Banksy’s over rated and Fairey plain sucks !

  25. @jojo one finger pointing is three back at you. you must have tons of international collectors and street cred to back your judgement though.

  26. I’d rather see the graffiti than the billboard advertisement.

  27. Your friends or neighbors probably work on the show being advertised so consider that when you hate on the ad.

  28. Actually I wasn’t pointing , I was high five-ing !
    So your bible verse does not apply to me .

    Yeah , because “street cred” is where its at .Right ?

    In a world where people have collected pet rocks,
    Cher won an academy award ,
    Justin Bieber sells out stadiums ,
    And Charlie Sheen makes the evening news ,
    Popularity is not the be all .

    Banksy. STILL sucks !

  29. @jojo Touche. Please post your upcoming show : )

  30. Kitties please!

  31. Ftw is a tagging krue not a gang. That area belongs to the cys gang. I cant believe people think its a gang. Ftw tags city wide on freeways bill boards etc. Thats what makes it a tagging krue. A gang tags on their territory or enemy territory. Ep hides in dead ends up the avenue their dying out.

  32. fuck the world and fuck u too

  33. branden del pierre

    this is for everyone who thinks that “FTW” makes ur hood look bad…. that billboad had been up ther for about 3 years now and its gonna keep on being there… believe it or not them “obnoxious Kids will go up there and leave the mark of a well known GRAFFITI CREW”… LET BE KNOWN….

  34. HATERS

  35. Damn everyone needs to just mind their own business. Really? Like ppl really go by stereo types and rumors if none of you don’t know what the hoods or krues are about u need to keep u damn mouths shut! U type of ppl are going to cause such a war for facts that aren’t legit. You ppl will be the ones to blame if someone gets hurt or killed becauuse someone decided to get shit twisted and state false facts! A tagging krue is art not many ppl believe that graff is an art but me myself as a female graffer! I draw and teach for insperation ideas tell stories with this graff stuff but yea I find it ridicolous that even our own enforcement doesn’t know wtf is going on u guys should be staying on them real cases I lost 2 family members that were killed to gang violence and whoever is taking care of these cases haven’t done suat its not like that first 48 shizzz I wish more can be done! I mean I appreciate those cops that are dedicated to what they do but some fo real just are the shiitieest peeps yo but yea plz get ya facts straight before anything

  36. Lalala, please learn to type and spell coherently.

  37. Im positive the FTW will be back up since the offender told me so. Its was actually a very nice piece and I look forward to seeing the new one .Peace Haterz

  38. first of all ftw aint no gang just a bunch of lames in a tagging crew acting hard but aint nothing thats y they r called the weenys or f t weenys hahahaha thats our hood the crazys 13

  39. I was thinking “for the win!” it felt like echo park pride to see that acroynm. Oops.

Post a Comment

Please keep your comments civil and on topic and refrain from personal attacks. The moderator reserves the right to edit or delete any comments. The Eastsider's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy apply to comments submitted by readers. Required fields are marked *