Annapolitans want to rub out graffiti scrawls

February 15, 1993|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff Writer

Someone is using Annapolis as a canvas and civic leaders want it stopped.

Merchants say the swirls and squiggles of spray paint on the sides of buildings in the historic district and along West Street make the city look shabby. They want police to take a more active role in halting what they say is a growing graffiti problem.

But police say they received only two reports of incidents last year and it's difficult to tell if graffiti is becoming a greater nuisance.

Jim Martin, owner of Freestate Press in the first block of West Street, said his building has been vandalized several times in the past two years.

"These kids seem to be brain dead," he said. Vandals have scribbled their first names or meaningless slogans on the building. This week, the name "Brandon" was scrawled on the side of his building.

There is graffiti on the Maryland Blue Cross/Blue Shield building on West Street and plenty of spray-painted designs on other buildings farther up the block, he added.

City police Lt. Russell Hall said his detectives in the Criminal Investigation Division are working on the cases they have, and he has assigned a detective to determine if the graffiti is becoming more widespread.

"I don't have a stack of reports in front of me telling me it's a problem," he said. "But that doesn't mean it's not out there. It only means it hasn't been reported. . . . We are not ignoring this."

RTC The two reports police have received include geometric scrawls on the side of a home in the 200 block of Prince George St. reported to investigators on Dec. 4, and a May 5 complaint of obscenities written on a sidewalk and a brick wall around it at East Street and State Circle.

"A lot of it is in the alleyways in the historic district," said Tom Roskelly, the city's director of public information.

Graffiti, much like filth, breeds more filth, he says.

The spray painting seems to run in cycles, Mr. Roskelly added.

Spencer Hopkins, owner of Hopkins Furniture in the 100 block of Main St., said graffiti has been a hassle for him.

"Every time we clean up the building, in about three or four months, it's back again," he said. "It's names of people or the clubs they are in. And if we left it there, it would just encourage people to add to it."

Mr. Hopkins estimates that it has cost him a couple of thousand dollars in the past few years to clean it up.

"It's really a pain and it ruins your town," Mr. Hopkins said.

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