Sycamore resident links gangs, tattoos

By Darrell Hassler

Two recent DeKalb and Sycamore controversies, gangs and tattoos, were linked together by a Sycamore resident who said many gang members wear tattoos.

Larry Sachs told the Sycamore City Council Monday that while he worked for the corrections facility, he noticed many gang members who wore tattoos representing their gangs.

Sachs’ comments are a reaction to “Skin of a Different Color,” a tattoo parlor being set up in Sycamore by Craig Murphy. Over the summer, Murphy unsuccessfully tried open his shop in DeKalb.

Sachs said gang members wearing tattoos is “not proof of anything,” but he said he wanted to tell the council about the “correlation” between gangs and tattoos.

Lt. Richard Moudy of the DeKalb Police Department confirmed that some gangs members have tattoos to identify the gangs they are in. “Sometimes it’s just symbols and letters,” Moudy said.

But Murphy, who cannot open his parlor until he gets permission from the city council, said linking his shop with gangs “is a bunch of crap.”

He pointed out that gang members usually do not want to pay $25 to get tattoos, so he said cruder tattoos are made using a needle and Indian ink.

Murphy said he has seen gang tattoos before, but he does not knowingly make them. The tattoos he has seen “are all homemade,” he said.

Brian Fairchild of the Illinois Department of Corrections also doubted tattoos contribute to gang activity, though he said gang tattoos are common.

“It’s ludicrous to say that tattoos generate activity,” Fairchild said. “One does not lead to the other.”

Fairchild said tattoos made in prisons “to show allegiance” are a problem because the dirty instruments used could spread AIDS or other diseases.

Murphy has not come before city council for permission to open his tattoo parlor yet, but he is expected to do so soon.

Sycamore Mayor Philip Ramsey declined to comment on the tattoo parlor.