Echo Park gentrification creates a “weekend gang”

2009 photo of Echo Park gang tagging

With home prices and rents spiraling upward,  many Echo Park gang members have been priced out of the neighborhood,  forcing some Echo Park Locos to make weekend visits from their new neighborhoods, according to the L.A. Times.  Gentrification in combination with other factors has noticeably reduced the activity of the Echo Park Locos, the neighborhood’s major gang.

One 31-year-old man with connections to the gang returns often to the neighborhood long after his family was evicted from their Echo Park Avenue apartment. Said the Times:

Eventually, the family settled into a place in Eagle Rock. It was bigger, but he says it was too quiet. No gunshots, helicopters or sirens. So he takes every opportunity he gets to head back to Echo Park. One weekend he drove in to watch the Mayweather-Canelo fight at his friend’s house. A couple Sundays later, the guys and their families gathered at Elysian Park for fish tacos and a chance to catch up. An old friend showed up and he gave him a handshake that turned into a hug.

“Nothing will ever feel like Echo Park did,” he said, smiling sadly. “Where you reach down and grab the dirt and you say, ‘Yeah, I’m solid. This is home.’ “

Police in the past have referred to visiting gang members as “commuter taggers.” Sgt. Victor Arellano told the Times that the Echo Park Locos have  become “a weekend gang.”


  1. EH, not really. Its alive and well. I live next door to a gang member still intent on vandalizing the nicer buildings on the block and tagging everything under sun with the gang tag and ‘rip dizzy’.

    all that love for a neighborhood and doing absolutely nothing but making it uglier.

    • I always thought it would be great if these gangs would find themselves an artistic homie who would tag awesome murals to represent them. What better way to demonstrate your might and command respect from the rest of the community– even if they still continue with their gangbanging. If they did that, their graffiti may even be kept up due to its striking aesthetic (much like the works of celebrated guerrilla street art), thus forever staking their claim on that parcel of neighborhood.

      • You use phrases like: “command respect” and “staking their claim”
        Which is funny, because gangbangers cannot and do not command respect from the rest of the neighborhood. They are detested and looked down upon as the sub-breed that they are. Also, they stake claim to nothing because most of them OWN nothing.

        Finally, that gangbanger in the story that got displaced to Eagle Rock.. is about to get displaced again.

      • I’d love for gangmembers to have a wall dedicated to bombing, but unfortunately tagging is part of marking your territory. If the wall isn’t located in the designated gang territory it’s useless. Also most gangbangers don’t have much creativity when it comes to graffiti. Most lack can control and stick to tagging and crossing out as oppose to murals. Street artists and gangbangers are two different people.

      • Tagging, no matter how creative or colorful, is nothing but vandalism. A better way to “command respect” and “demonstrate might” would be to get an education and a job.

        • Yes, it’s a far fetched fantasy. No kidding, they don’t rightfully own anything and are committing vandalism, but hey, they’re doing it anyway with ugly squiggly doodles to mark their territory. Among all them, there’s gotta be a good artist somewhere. I’m not condoning crime, just a tongue-in-cheek suggestion which would probably be more realistic than trying to encourage them to become productive members of society.

    • Echo Park resident

      I think the tag activity still happens in certain pockets — just depends on where in Echo Park you actually are. I’m guessing south of Sunset it’s worse, especially when you get closer to the 101.

      I live in a part of EP that’s hard to get to unless you have a specific need to be on that street. We didn’t’ have any tagging for months until about two or three weeks ago.

    • I had a lot more empathy for the gentrification displacement issue until I experienced first hand the racism & and hate from my ‘neighborhood’ that i love as much as they do. I have lived here over a decade now and am here to stay and there is more change coming…. I hope people that want to stay can, and the people that are ‘displaced by gentrification’ (whatever that means) are treated better by their new neighbors they treated thiers.

  2. Am I supposed to feel sorry for these scumbags?

    • Echo Park Neighborhood Watch: Fighting Crime, One House Flip at a Time

      The sooner all of these gang parasites are gentrified out of the neighborhood, the better.

      • Yeah, wait’ll you get evicted because your landlord’s a greedy pig.

        • simple solution is to move somewhere where you are the landlord.

          • “Commuter taggers”… Haha, Only in LA!

          • Great solution, Mitt.

          • @shark : actually, it is a great solution. I used to rent at the beach, but got pushed out by rapidly rising prices. I decided then and there that I’d be the master of my own destiny. Took me a while, but now I’ve got a 15 year.. and my payments will stay fixed while my income rises (hopefully).

        • It’s not easy to evict someone in Los Angeles under the Rent Control Ordinance. I wouldn’t expect you to know about that, since apparently you’re just visiting from a workers’ paradise like Cuba or North Korea.

        • HAHAHA!!! That’s right Bouffant! It’s ME the GREEDY LANDLORD! I’m here to provide a comfortable roof over your head, deal with the scumbags at LAHD and take all the risks associated with owning property in an Earthquake Zone!


          You effin looser. You should look at the other side of things before you comment. Property owners are trying to get ahead just like every one else. Do you work for free? I would bet no, Mother Teresa. Now, go put your effing rent check in my box before I charge you a late fee!

  3. why don’t the cops do some weekend police work and scoop up some of these guys. for any of us who live in Echo Park or Silverlake it’s not surprise. we get to wake up every sunday morning to a fresh batch of tags all over our neighborhood.

    • I believe that if the LAPD would simply conduct routine traffic stops and write tickets for infractions they would solve many problems in NELA. Outstanding warrants, parole violations, suspended license etc. It would cast a wide net as well as create an overall reduction in speeding, running red lights/stop signs and other dangerous driving habits. Why won’t they do this?

      • In a neighborhood of truly hard working people of all ages and races, these guys stick out like a sore thumb. The LAPD wouldn’t even have to profile. Spot the guys loitering with no purpose and no place to go. Smell the weed. Check their pockets for tagging pens, knives, and guns.

  4. “..he says it was too quiet. No gunshots, helicopters or sirens.” Why would you miss these things? Just proves that this person is seeking out trouble.

  5. The good news is that the process is underway…. they have been priced out, and soon enough, these losers will die out. What kind of vapid and pointless life do you have to live if you miss the sound of gunshots and sirens and travel to an improving neighborhood to ruin it.

  6. You guys should click on the “commuter taggers” link. It’s a well written story.

  7. theeastsiderla is a joke. what is it written by high school kids?

    the people commenting on this website are just as bad. Is this where the people from the “rants & raves” section from craigslist come now.

  8. and just look at these advertisements.
    even some of the stories on here for advertising!


  9. The weirdest part of this story is that he was displaced to a BETTER neighborhood. Eagle Rock is nicer than Echo Park.

  10. Echo Park resident

    It’s funny, because I hadn’t seen tags on my street in months — and then, about two or three weeks ago, the EXP tags have returned in full force, usually popping up on Friday or Saturday nights.

    Both houses that got tagged — yes, the houses themselves and not the actual fencing, since these are right up on the sidewalk — are those of elderly Latino ladies, which made me the most angry. If you feel the need to tag up someone else’s property, why do you have to go for the old, defenseless abuelas? Shows how much respect these people really have for their beloved Echo Park.

  11. Cops don’t do anything about it because if there were no more tagging, there would be no more city funding for the clean up “graffiti busters”. It’s a big monopoly without taggers there would be no more city funding.
    We need to bring back some sort of capital punishment and slice off the spray finger of those good for nothing taggers.

  12. White pplp aka gays if u dont like eckoxpark u can go back where u came from.

    • Ha ha, you go back where you came from. Lear your history:
      “Real estate mogul Thomas Kelly founded Echo Park in the late 19th century and shortly after, houses began popping up around Echo Park Lake. The manmade reservoir has acted as a centerpiece for the neighborhood and development began to boom. As the area became more developed, it attracted a variety of different people.

      Prior to World War I and before Hollywood was established as an entertainment mecca, Echo Park was the center of the showbiz industry in LA. At that time, silent films were still all of the rage and entertainers such as Charlie Chaplin and Laurel and Hardy created movies in the neighborhood.”

      • If you really want to get down to history…think about what was this beautiful place you call ECHO PARK LOS ANGELES was before…It was MEXICO… 🙂

        • LMIEP, well I was born in San Diego…. does that make me Mexican?

          • Are you serious??? You sound so so stupid in so many ways…
            1. I was simply trying to prove you wrong that whites werent here before all the Mexicans , Latinos,etc…..
            2. i dont give a F#%K where you were born
            3. i kinda feel bad for you, that you dont know your parents ethnicity.. 4. two F#%KING whites can have a baby in CHINA doesnt mean the baby is Chinese… COME ON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    • Right back at you! Yeah… i was supportive of the arguments against gentrification… till i read this… hey rich white gay friends… can we start with with this person? I think it will really improve the neighborhood.

      The only constant is change – and this is all of our neighborhood together.. we are, like it or not we are gonna neighbors for a LOOONNNNGGG time… get use to it, or get gentrified, laugh!

      • Yes I’m white and I guess from your estimation also gay. (I’m sure my wife of 15 years and three children will be quite upset with this news) HAHA!

        How’s this for a suggestion akil, go f yourself. I’m heavily invested in Echo Park and not going anyplace. Rather I heavily lobby city hall and LAPD to push for things like the injunction and more patrols. You see, I pay nearly 20K per year in property taxes. I’ve got much more incentive, influence and thus power than you and your spray paint can. So let me be the one who invites you to leave! I hear the 909 calling you! Buh Bye…

  13. Gentrification is something i will never understand… WHY does it take a bunch of whites to move in to want to change something?? Back in the 80s 90s etc. there have been countless crimes that happened in here in EP.. Who knows how many lives have been taken: brothers,friends, fathers, and family… AND where was the need to want to change, us latinos grew up with the sounds of sirens, helipcopters, and gunshots. and nobody cared…It was just another place no one wanted to visit… i dont know how this became the place everyone wants to be but before you sit there and complain about the lil things that are happening now.. think about how lucky you have it now.

    • Here’s my guess as to why things don’t change until whites move in: I think there are cultural differences .. in that I don’t think whites mind being the squeaky wheel, complaining to government entities to push for change, being uptight. I think in the Latino culture, there’s more of a tendency to keep quiet about things.. about not wanting to complain or seem uptight. There could also be some fear and distrust of gov’t entities.
      I base this purely on perception.. and conversations with my sister’s Latino husband and his family.

      • Im hate to say it but you are true.. I myself feel that latinos aren’t afraid to speak but dont even try anymore because we feel that the whites will always get what they want..That people will always hear there voice instead of ours because everyone feel they have more rights then us…But I guess thats the way it will always be…whites never want latinos but they always need us for SOMETHING!!!!

        • Echo Park resident

          My father is a Latin American immigrant, but my mother is “white.” My dad lived in Echo Park when he first moved to the US as a teenager, and I currently live there now. As a mixed ethnicity resident, I find your comment extremely bigoted and offensive. White people don’t “always get what they want” on the basis of being white — I’ve had to work very hard for everything I’ve amassed during my short life. In fact, I got my work ethic AND my interest in local government/politics and community involvement from my LATINO father. He is the one who taught me to stand up against crime and vandalism, to take respect and pride in my community and to speak out when I feel things aren’t going the way they should.

          Pride in one’s neighborhood isn’t a white vs. Latino issue — it’s a “good neighbor” vs. “bad neighbor” issue. Currently, those who support the gangs in Echo Park are on the “bad neighbor” side of history because they’re actively supporting individuals who seek to destroy the quality of life of those within their community based on some arbitrary “turf war” nonsense.

          Have you ever thought to talk to a white resident of Echo Park? Not all of them are “whiners.” A lot of them love this neighborhood and want to make it a great place for people of all races and economic backgrounds to enjoy. If you want to be bigoted and pass sweeping judgements based on the color of your neighbor’s skin, that’s your problem. The rest of us are moving forward and trying to make a difference for EVERYONE.

          • I’m sorry if i offended you but yes i have tried to talk to the residents…Y SABES QUE the only reason they talk…cause i live next door to them..all the other ones wont even look me straight in the eyes.

        • I’m sorry that you and people you know feel this way… I really am. It does not feel good when you feel powerless.. but the one thing I can say: the only time you’re truly powerless is when you don’t try or have given up.
          Also, when you have given up, the perception from others may be that you just don’t care.
          every community needs leaders that will help rally the people and get people to speak out (to the proper groups) in order to effect change. Change may not always happen, but don’t give up.
          As far as whites not wanting latinos but needing them for something.. I’m not real sure what to say about that. I want people who care about their community, will take care of their community and respect their neighbors. Those people can be of any creed, culture, religion. I need people to work for me, to do those things I don’t have time to (or don’t have the skills) to do. Those people, again, can be of any creed, color, religion as long as they do high quality work. That’s what I want and need.

  14. Graham you seem like a real swell guy. Super friendly and neighborly obviously.
    You wouldn’t, by chance, be that same landlord that tried to pawn off a 300 square foot dump as a 650 square foot artist studio? Because I’ve been laughing about that one for months!
    Also your entitlement reeks of trust fund. Just saying you may want to tone it down. You are making Echo Park look bad.

    • Nope. No pawning here Kelly. Just real quality high-yield properties.

      I am a self made man Kelly. Not a dime given nor borrowed from my parents nor anyone else (except the bank of course for my mortgages). You sound like you have a real jealous streak in you. Especially for those who have a couple nickels to rub together. Jealousy is not virtuous, Kelly.

      Say, aren’t you the “Kelly” that was bragging how much you LOVE sub-letting your rent controlled apartment to air BNB folks? tis,tis Kelly, you know it’s just a matter of time before you are caught and your landlord evicts you?

      BTW I am the swellest of swell. TYFA

  15. great article and informative/funny comments. was there 25 yrs. ago–kinda liked it. it’s not my taste right now. will wait another 20 yrs., if still there.–signed, single, token gay guy from back when. p.s. we’re all amoebae. lol. katching and peace.

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