HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - Many people may be surprised when they hear about gangs in North Alabama.
Their symbols vary in color and design.
Monday night Officers with the Huntsville Police Department's Gang Task Force held a community meeting sponsored by the Huntsville Jaycee's.
The purpose of the meeting was to show the community what to look for when it comes to gang activity.
Investigator Julian Johnson says start out with clothes and tattoos.
Graffiti can be a more obvious indicator. Johnson says do not try to remove what could be gang graffiti by yourself because you don't want to personally offend a gang member. Call someone with your local police department to have it removed.
Johnson says the deadliest age for gang members is 13 to 17, and what was once a predominantly male world is now seeing an increase in teen girls.
While each gang has it's own specific colors, symbols, and purpose, Johnson says there are several similar reasons teens join.
"The biggest one is love, all a child wants is some one to love them," said Johnson.
"A lot of them come from single family homes, a lot of them want quick money, a lot of them want recognition," Johnson added.
Recognition, Johnson says, that can only end in one of two ways.
"The only end to it is death or jail, that's it. You're going to wind up being in the system for the rest of your life."