VOL­UN­TEERS TAKE ON A GRAF­FITI EPI­DEMIC

Build­ing gets face-lift af­ter lat­est round of graf­fiti

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FRONT PAGE - By Chris Bar­ber cbar­ber@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com

LON­DON GROVE >> A build­ing that has been the re­peated tar­get of graf­fiti tag­gers got a face-lift on Satur­day as friends and neigh­bors came with paint and brushes to cover up the of­fen­sive mark­ings.

The build­ing, which is owned by Wayne DeFrancesco, sits at the corner of Guernsey and Val­ley roads just south of West Grove. It’s ac­tu­ally sev­eral build­ings and has walls that face both sides of the corner.

For months tag­gers, who have not been for­mally iden­ti­fied, have spray­painted words and names on the out­side walls. Ef­forts by DeFrancesco to paint over have been frus­trated by his fear of ret­ri­bu­tion and con­tin­u­a­tion of the mark­ings.

But re­cently, some marks that ap­peared to be KKK and a skewed swastika, and that raised even deeper con­cern of neigh­bors.

Theresa Zunino of West Grove, who or­ga­nized the project to paint over the mark­ings, said it was un­clear whether they were po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated or just re­flected the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of un­re­lated groups. Still, she said, it didn’t look good and was of­fen­sive.

“It doesn’t have a place in our com­mu­nity ei­ther way,” she said.

She put the word out on the West Grove Mes­sage Board on Face­book ask­ing for vol­un­teers for a paint­ing project and was re­warded by hav­ing more than 20 peo­ple show up on Satur­day morn­ing. They not only painted over the graf­fiti, but ac­tu­ally cov­ered all of the sides of the

Theresa Zunino of West Grove, who or­ga­nized the project to paint over the mark­ings, said it was un­clear whether they were po­lit­i­cally mo­ti­vated or just re­flected the iden­ti­fi­ca­tion of un­re­lated groups. Still, she said, it didn’t look good and was of­fen­sive.

build­ings with an earth­tone light beige paint.

Orig­i­nally, Zunino had also hoped to pur­chase bushes and vines to make the build­ing sur­faces less ac­ces­si­ble, but she said at this time of year the plants are not avail­able. That did not de­ter her from seek­ing other so­lu­tions, how­ever.

Hav­ing called the po­lice on Nov. 16, she was told that law en­force­ment could not

just go onto a pri­vate prop­erty and take ac­tion. Pub­lic In­for­ma­tion Of­fi­cer Reg­gie Easter­ling of the state po­lice at Avon­dale sug­gested, how­ever, that they set up sur­veil­lance cam­eras and iden­tify who is doing the tag­ging. At that point, the po­lice could step in.

Zunino said they took that ad­vice and are set­ting up cam­eras which they ob­tained at cost with con­tri­bu­tions from DeFrancesco and the com­mu­nity mem­bers.

The graf­fiti on the build­ings con­tains names and

slo­gans. No one is sure whether the KKK stands for a mu­si­cal group and if the thing that looks like a swastika is in­deed one. Still, with Satur­day’s project, they are all gone now.

Zunino said that she had heard that nearby God­dard Park had also been tagged, and it ap­peared that it more clearly re­flected an as­pect of the re­cent po­lit­i­cal cli­mate.

She also said that the feed­back she has re­ceived from the com­mu­nity was re­lief that some­one had done some­thing about the un­sightly mark­ings.

CHRIS BAR­BER — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Vol­un­teers paint the side of the build­ings in Lon­don Grove in a light beige. There are plans for sur­veil­lance cam­eras and po­lice in­volve­ment.

This is the build­ing in Lon­don Grove as it ap­peared be­fore the vol­un­teers came to paint it.

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