Authorities in New Haven, Conn., have launched an investigation into the establishment of the radically violent MS-13 street gang in their city after a second case of apparently gang-related vandalism within a week.
According to reports from WTNH-TV, part of the effort may be to set up surveillance cameras at a Vietnam memorial that has been vandalized twice in just days.
"You don't like to have a camera out here where people come and pay respects but certainly you don't want to have something like this to happen to something so meaningful," a New Haven spokesman, Rob Smuts, told the television station.
The MS-13 graffiti on the Vietnam memorial had appeared first only days earlier, when spray-painted "Kill whites MS 13" defaced the memorial at Long Wharf, Conn., the station reported.
"This irks me. This hurts me deep to my heart," Vietnam Army veteran Emery Linton Sr. told the station then. Linton, who served in Vietnam from 1969 to 1972, noted he lost friends there and called the mess on the memorial a slap in the face to veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.
"People here respect these names. They gave their lives for everything, for the freedoms they have," Linton said.
As WND reported, the El Salvador-based MS-13 operates in 44 U.S. states, according to the FBI.
WND reported as early as 1995 the gang reportedly was meeting with representatives of al-Qaida and smuggling operatives into the United States from Mexico.
An attorney prosecuting MS-13 members said the gang follows the "rape, kill and control" philosophy, using guns, knives and machetes. The gang members traffic in drugs, weapons and humans. Last summer, police in the Boston area conducted a major round-up of MS 13 members.
New Haven police told WTNH they have not documented MS-13 activity in the city, but they are investigating in light of the recent vandalism.
The newest vandalism also features the "MS-13" logo, appearing this time in black spray paint on the memorial.
"This is a sad scene for me to see that this is happening now," another veteran, Jimmy V, told the station.
"It's a kick in the gut to all Vietnam veterans. Again our brothers will serve as a reminder not only to a war but to the way society is now with no respect," he said.
The earlier vandalism was with bright orange paint, used to write "MS-13." Jimmy noted it actually was the third case of vandalism at the memorial; he says he cleaned white spray paint off the stone "V" in the memorial several weeks ago.
"I don't know who would want to do this," Lori Grenfell told the New Haven station. "They have the right to say what they want to say. They can thank these guys for that right."
Linton's message to the vandals was direct. "If you guys really think you're bad, join the service, get in the action and see what it's really like."
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