There’s a concern that a recent graffiti spree could be a sign of an emerging gang problem at Sioux Valley Dakota Nation.
Rich Lonstrup has served as the Crown attorney for Sioux Valley for more than three years and he acknowledged in court that that community is no stranger to crime.
However, Lonstrup said, until recently serious gang-related crime hasn’t been prominent.
Like other communities, he said, Sioux Valley residents are extremely concerned about any emerging gang problem.
“They’re absolutely intolerant of gang members, it’s the last thing they need,” Lonstrup told Brandon court on Thursday as a 16-year-old boy was sentenced for the gang-related graffiti spree.
The youth pleaded guilty to breaching his court-ordered curfew, three counts of mischief and to assault for the events of May 18 at Sioux Valley.
Three trailer homes at the community were sprayed with one word each: “Most,” “Organized” and “Bloodz.” Together, Lonstrup said, they form the name of a street gang.
Also tagged was the reserve’s daycare, fire hall, government building and a highway sign.
Defence lawyer Ryan Fawcett said the youth didn’t spray paint the trailers, the government office or the fire hall himself.
However, he took responsibility as one of three males said to be involved, and admitted that he was the one who spray painted “mob” on the daycare and the highway sign.
The graffiti incident, it turns out, isn’t linked to a high-profile break-in at the Sioux Valley School, which was vandalized that same night. Lonstrup said that offence involved a younger group and wasn’t gang-motivated.
However, police were investigating the break-in to the school when they learned who was responsible for the graffiti.
The youths responsible for the spray painting had paused to watch the second group break into the school.
When a boy emerged from the school, the 16-year-old tagger attacked him in the belief he belonged to a different gang. That’s the assault to which the youth pleaded guilty.
Fawcett described the young offender as a “pawn” of the Bloodz and suggested the graffiti had less to do with gang life and more to do with a lack of something for youths to do at Sioux Valley.
Judge Krystyna Tarwid suggested the community, its parents and youth need to work together to create activities.
She then sentenced the young vandal to 26 days in jail to be followed by 13 days of supervision in the community, then 18 months probation.
The teen had served 67 days in pre-sentence custody.
Lonstrup commented that alcohol seems to be a problem for the offender.
Once out of jail, the youth will go to a residential addictions treatment facility for 82 days.
The teen also has to apologize to Sioux Valley chief, council and the victims of the graffiti. In addition, he’ll have to do 60 hours of community service work.
One or two male co-accused still face charges in relation to the graffiti, while other youths are charged in connection with the break-in and vandalism to the school.
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition September 7, 2012