(IRIS) -- Between the brown
mountains north of Reno, Nevada is what some call the nation’s largest trailer park. In Sun Valley, there aren’t
many sidewalks, people drive go-carts in the streets and just try to get by with a vision that doesn’t usually extend
beyond the month's bills. It’s the kind of place you might expect to find something like Dees Used Furniture where inside
everything is for sale. But outside, the walls are exploding with the unlikely urban and rural anxiety of youth. Tags like
“hate,” “vomit” and “Sparks kids” are sprinkled across a burst of color that is one man’s
vision, taking shape through a back yard full of “bombs,” also known as big graffiti murals. And, this is the
last chance to see it as its all about to be wiped clean.
“I am getting away with murder, I believe,” says Joe Castello, looking
around his back yard that is covered in graffiti so thick that you can peel it off the walls. It’s a place where kids
can do what would get them thrown in jail anywhere else.
“A lot of kids can’t recover from it because of the felony,” he says of when the kids get caught
and try to run. Over the 7 years he’s had it, this little plot of dirt has seen the finger work of 14,000 kids happily
painting. Some are from as far away as Germany, Switzerland, LA and New York.
Instead of shoeing
away and arresting taggers, he’s created a kind of playground for them with wheel barrels, sign boards, cars and rock
“They pull in all jazzed and freaked
out,” Castello says. “They spend 250 dollars in paint and film it.”
But it’s the
local kids who he says are really being helped here. “They spend all day here and their fingers are so tired, that all
they want to do is take their pictures home and eat and look at the pictures on the computer.”
when parole and probation brought out kids, “It was like 1,000 deers freaking out.” They were able to do what
they wanted legally.
“Think of the money that I saved by keeping that one kid out of jail,” he
says. And they aren’t all hoodlums. Some drive up in $40,000 cars with $10,000 in the bank. But all he asks is that
they clean up after themselves.
Pointing at the nearby property, that has no signs of graffiti, he says this is also
an opportunity for him to teach the children about respecting other people’s property. But this impromptu, dirty outdoor
art class with rebels is no piece of cake. He copes with gangsters too that show up at all hours of the night and has to patrol
for alcohol and drugs to keep it clean.
“I was going to close it one day,” he says. “It’s
hard work man.”
He says that he can’t charge for entry, because then the kids will just go somewhere
else. This isn’t a solution to the growing graffiti problem, but it is a start he says and the sheriff is actually backing
and enabling the kid's work.
“They protect me every day,” he says adding that Reno could do the same.
“A graffiti park would be cool for Reno.”
With $10,000 he says he could buy land to build
a graffiti park and “the volunteers would be there." If the land were donated, or public land, he could do it for
a lot cheaper because the volunteers would come out of his muraled walls.
“They say Reno is Art Town, and you want to be involved with your kids then make it happen.” He doesn’t think Reno will do it for liability
reasons. But he admits those are some of the same challenges cities face with things like skate parks.
of Reno did briefly explore the idea of installing a graffiti wall, but the benefits verses the risk of inviting graffiti
were not entirely clear.
The liability at Dee’s Furniture isn’t stopping him however. In just about
a month, the place will be whitewashed, ready for a new crop of thousands of kids who are itching for a larger-than life canvass
where they can legally express themselves.
Joe can relate to the kids’ desires to speak about the pain they feel inside, once being homeless at age 14
Maybe there is something for
parents here too, parents who can remember a similar troubled youth. Something vaguely familiar, like the pieces of used furniture:
gently used memories for sale inside Dee’s Used Furniture. Stop by. Joe will be happy to talk to you about it.
WATCH A VIDEO OF DEE'S AND AN INTERVIEW AT LOADEDTV.COM
5115 Sun Valley Blvd.
COME BACK FOR UPDATES WITH INTERVIEWS ON THIS TOPIC FROM THE SHERIFF'S DEPARTMENT AND RENO CITY OFFICIALS
(IRIS) – National reports
out today show enforcement against illegal immigrants is getting tougher from the street to the federal level but the illegal
workforce is still growing in some states.
The first report details how illegal immigrants are also facing stricter deportation. The Migration Policy Institute
says most states have focused on deportation of illegal immigrants who are violent criminals, but now illegal immigrants are
being deported even for minor traffic offenses in the southeast part of the country. But experts are seeing it in the
end of it has been busier,” says Richard Fleischer who has been doing
immigration law in Nevada for 30 years. “I think there is a lot of
racial profiling, they (police) pull over a lot of individuals, if they have even a minor traffic infraction. They ask for
ID. If they don’t have it then they turn them over to immigration.”
While enforcement on the street is getting stricter, another report shows that the illegal workforce
is growing. The Pew Hispanic Center reports today that the percentage
of Nevada’s workforce that is illegal has grown from 9.4 percent in 2009 to 10 percent last year, making Nevada number
one in the nation with the highest percentage of illegal workers.
The increase comes despite efforts to cut back on illegal immigrants access to work with the federal
e-verify system that went into place last year. Employees use it to check social security numbers provided by employees.
It is making it harder according to Fleischer.
“They (illegal immigrant)
have their name and social security number that they made up and the e-verify shows that it is made up,” he says. Employers
are then required to tell the employee. In the past, he says that the employee would just make up a new number and it would
take a lot longer for the IRS to verify.
But employers and illegal immigrants are finding a way around that, with an old trick that may explain the increase
in illegal workers.
employers who pay people cash because they don’t want to loose the employee,” he says, translating to more under-the-table
pay. He says it is making big waves in just about any industry that has a lot of employees.
But overall, “It’s harder for people to get employment
and they come in here and they don’t know what to do,” he says. The enforcement is also impacting the future skilled
workforce. “The worse ones (who come in) were 1, 2 and 3 years old when they were brought here illegally by their parents
and they can’t legally work.” Having been through the U.S. education system, “they are just brilliant,”
he says. “They are so intelligent. It is too bad that we aren’t using their talent and resources. Instead he says
the ones where were going to school are dropping out. “People who are going to school to be a nurse, but they know they
can’t get a job now so they say ‘why would I waste my time?’ I might as well sit at home and watch TV. I
see these people every day. It is so sad.”
He says he doesn't have any options for them except one, “they could marry an American.”
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