City begins free service to paint over graffiti - WSMV News 4

City begins free service to paint over graffiti

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CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -- Chattanooga business and home owners say graffiti is taking over and glorifying gangs throughout the city. Now city leaders have stepped in with a new program to paint over the graffiti for free.

The Community Graffiti Initiative kicked off just a few days ago with volunteers and city workers taking on the taggers with a little elbow grease and a lot of paint. Now just three days later, the graffiti is already back. But, city leaders say that's ok and that it's all part of the plan.

Charles Toney owns the barber shop Nappy Cuts in the Amnicola area.

"This gang graffiti that's going up here in these neighborhoods just went up Thursday and last Sunday," Nappy Cuts owner Charles Toney said.

He paid to paint over the graffiti last week and is upset his business was hit yet again.  "It's ignorance in the neighborhood. You try to put something in the black community and this is why businesses don't stand," Toney said.

Police and city leaders say as the gang problem grows, the more and more graffiti they're seeing. "That graffiti is designed to glorify the gang and it's designed to intimidate people," District 9 Councilman Peter Murphy said.

Councilman Murphy is leading the initiative where property owners can call 311 and volunteers will come paint over their building's graffiti for free. "Our good citizens are greatly more ambitious than our gang members," Murphy said.

He says neighborhood volunteers took care of several properties Thursday, but the markings are already back in all the same places. "Actually it was expected," Murphy said.

He says that's why the city has the property owner sign a year-long release saying they can come at any time over the next year and re-paint as many times as needed.

Toney says he didn't know about the new service until now. "It's a good program if they'll stick to their word," Toney said.

Murphy says the program will continue because it's cheap to run. They're getting paint donations from businesses and volunteers are doing the work. He hopes if the community is persistent enough, we'll start seeing these taggers lose steam.

"There'll always be some misguided young person with a can of spray paint but I do think it will become a pointless endeavor," Murphy said.

You can report graffiti to the city be calling 311. Murphy says several neighborhood associations are volunteering, and if you'd like to roll up your sleeves, too, call your district's council person.

If it's on city-owned property, city workers will paint it.

It is Channel 3's policy to not show full shots of graffiti images in order to avoid encouraging future vandalism.

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