COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - Columbus Police are investigating what appears to be gang activity at a middle school on the city's south side.
Around 2 AM Wednesday, an officer says he was doing routine patrol behind Eddy Middle School on South Lumpkin Road when he saw a bail of straw on fire. The bail of straw had been placed on the tracks of a front loader tractor and was put out.
The officer also reported finding several gang symbols spray painted on the brick wall of the school, including the words "GD," "Folk Nation," "South Side" and a pitch fork.
Officers searched the area but didn't find anyone.
The case has been turned over to the Columbus Police Department's Gang Task Force.
Sergeant Rick McMahan heads up the Gang Task Force and tells WTVM "GD" stands for the Gangster Disciples, a subset of the Folk Nation, a national gang based in Chicago. The pitchfork is also a symbol for the Folk Nation, he says.
According to McMahan, police have not been called to Eddy Middle School before in reference to a gang problem.
"What we find is a group of kids getting together, for instance, the South Side boys. They try to affiliate themselves with better known national gangs. They take on some of the symbols and names of the national gangs. Middle school- that's about the age we see most of the kids getting involved in gang recruitment," he said.
But in general, police say gangs are not violent in Columbus.
"We do have some instances like the graffiti but it's nowhere near what it could be, what it is in larger cities. You don't see a lot of robberies or home invasions. It's mostly damaging property," McMahan added.
A spokeswoman for the Muscogee County School District says police have not contacted Eddy Middle School and administrators at the school are not investigating any internal reports of gang-related activity. The principal of Eddy Middle says there is not a gang problem at the school.
The symbols have been removed from the school.