Afa's crew broke up, he said, after several were arrested and others were intimidated by gang members who flashed guns and made threats.
Bernstein, the Fowks brothers and others said they also had heard that organized gangs were threatening taggers. The gang members didn't like the taggers bringing law enforcement heat into the neighborhoods, interfering with more serious criminal activity.
As if the gang members, police, teachers, probation officers and tough judges weren't enough, taggers also faced another foe--self-appointed graffiti busters. Known derisively as "heroes," these people cruise the area searching for taggers, taking pictures and noting license-plate numbers, and turning them in to authorities to collect rewards.
One such hero, a former Long Beach resident who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, has made about $20,000 in recent years by collecting reward money, mostly from Long Beach, which offers $1,000 per conviction. He is well-known to police for his frequent tips.