City officials struggling to clean up graffiti in St. Louis - KMOV.com

City officials struggling to clean up graffiti in St. Louis

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By KMOV Web Producer By KMOV Web Producer

ST. LOUIS (KMOV) - Police are investigating graffiti found at Compton Hill Reservoir Park in south St. Louis.

The graffiti included phrases like “class war” and “only the blood of the rich will stop occupy.” The messages were sprayed on statues and buildings on Grand Boulevard just south of Interstate 44, where “Occupy” protesters were arrested Thursday night as police tried to enforce a park curfew.

Reaction to the vandalism has been swift, as St. Louis City Hall denounced it and ordered the clean-up.

But while officials responded quickly to the vandalism found in Reservoir Park, other examples of graffiti have seemingly drawn no response.

“We have a responsibility, but unfortunately every piece of graffiti that’s out there can’t be removed by the city,” said Sam Dotson, St. Louis director of operations.

One example can be found while approaching Poplar Street Bridge from northbound Interstate 55, where a graffiti artist wrote a word used as a derogatory slur for homosexual. The same message can be seen from Interstate 64, Interstate 70 and Interstate 44.

So why has the city done nothing about it?

“It gets to a finite budget.  It’s no secret employees have taken furloughs.  It’s no secret we’ve started to charge for trash collection, it’s no secret we’ve diverted capital assets,” said Dotson. “We’re struggling like every other metropolitan area, and so we do what we can. But again, if individuals weren’t violating the law, we could keep those resources on what is important. And hopefully, the police will find some of them and hold them accountable.”

But the police say unless the artist is caught red-handed, prosecution is almost impossible.

So for now, it appears St. Louis is occupied by more than one message.

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