ANDERSON — One person’s art is another’s hassle. But graffiti usually turns out to be costly for everyone, as taxpayers ultimately pay the bill to have the designs erased.
Graffiti can be a problem for any larger municipality, but there are signs that “tagging,” as it’s also called, is on the rise in the area. Business owners are often stuck with the repair work, and the city is charged with painting over graffiti in public places. While some tagging is artful, it is generally deemed unsightly, and according to police, can even indicate a gang presence.
About six downtown businesses were vandalized sometime between 10:30 p.m. on May 8 and 1:30 a.m. May 9, according to local business owner Claudette Bettencourt. She said the estimated damage from the vandalism could be in the hundreds of dollars if businesses try to match the paint where the graffiti was placed. She said she’s concerned, but also that city officials have been very responsive to her complaints.
Bettencourt owns Your Way Cafe at 1023 Meridian St. and is a member of the Historic Downtown Merchants Association.
“These are the ones we found so far, there could be more, we don’t know,” she said. “Ironically, if you are standing at the alley between Conscious Creations, Your Way Café and Cabbage Rose, you are in full view of the police department through the parking lot.”
In an email to Bettencourt, Anderson Police Chief Larry Crenshaw said graffiti was recently a problem in northern areas of Anderson, but “the entire city has experienced and seen an increase of graffiti tagging as well.”
Crenshaw said he plans to attend the next meeting of the newly formed merchants association on June 3.
In her correspondence with the city, Bettencourt said the association plans to discuss camera security systems at the businesses and suggested using a vacant building or city-owned building as a canvas for local residents to participate in a graffiti art contest. She said at the end of each monthly contest, paint could be donated from local companies to paint over the wall.