City of Detroit cleans 50,000 tags of graffiti in 3 years

- In Detroit's fight against blight, the city hit a major milestone this week when it officially cleaned up it's 50,000th act of illegal graffiti.

It's more than just washing away paint, it is helping the city rebuild and move on from some of its darkest times.

In the past three years, the city has been hard at work scrubbing both vacant and occupied buildings. According to Jessica Parker with the General Services Department, by cleaning up the graffiti, it helps feel like they're part of a greater good.

"You don't feel threatened by the environment, because some of it is gang-related - they feel like they are not alone," Parker said.

While 50,000 are clean, the city estimates they're only half done. Parker said they notify building owners who have a week to get it cleaned up before the city can step in - and it's the building owner who foots the bill.

"They give the owner at least 7 days to go ahead and remove it themselves (and) on the the eighth day we have the right to remove it," Parker said. "It can range anywhere between $800 and $2,000 depending on how many crews are needed to come out and remove it."

Beyond the takedown, the city also has to make sure the graffiti doesn't come back but they have a plan for that too - find the person responsible and make them clean it up.

"Once we see the same tag, we log it," Parker said. "And then they can identify and try to catch the people. We've had a good success rate. I've gone to court 10 to15 times already."

But neighbors say it's nice now but don't think it will last.

"It's good for two or three months but next summer I believe it will be the same way," resident Lorenzo Edwards said.

But Parker says that won't stop them.

"Soon as they come back out - we come back out," she said. "Because we want them to know this city is not tolerating the old culture of graffiti."

Edwards isn't sold though. He said that the city would be better off just taking the building down.

"That's all it is window dressing," he said. "Knock it down and put something else there."

Well, he's getting his wish. At the corner of Ferry Park and Linwood, something else is going in: a cookie dough store, "Detroit Dough" founded by a Detroit native and entrepreneur.

"I'm here because I was born and raised here. It's home and that's the biggest thing," said Daniel A. Washington. "We want to start Detroit Dough on this corner because the people need it."

That store opens in the summer of 2018.
 

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