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Task Force Puts Pressure on Graffiti

By Eileen Buckley

Buffalo, NY – Graffiti vandals continue to deface parts of Buffalo. But just as quickly as the graffiti appears, it is cleared away with a high power washer to send a message that it won't be tolerated.

WBFO'S Eileen Buckley caught up with a clean up crew along Elmwood Avenue in Buffalo Wednesday.

You can read her report below, or hear it by clicking the "listen" icon above.

A busy stretch of Elmwood Avenue just past Hertel seems to be a prime target for graffiti.

Vandals recently painted symbols, designs, even vulgar words on buildings, under a railroad bridge and on a billboard. John Barnes is with Fleet Pressure Washing and Service.

The company has a contract with the City and continues spending a great deal of time washing away graffiti.

Barnes is also a member of the Graffiti Hurts task force. He said graffiti seems to "proliferate" in the warmer weather.

But the graffiti vandals are not just targeting roadway walls and vacant buildings. The latest one of the jewel's of Buffalo's theatre district. Just a few weeks ago Shea's Performing Arts Center was hit.

And, although gangs are notorious for using graffiti to mark their turf, Barns said "very little" city graffiti is gang related.

But Barnes said some Buffalo schools have been targeted, linking graffiti to drugs.

For the most part, the graffiti task force believes it is youths who try to compete with other vandals and hit the street with paint cans. That's where Barnes says parents need to take some responsibly.

After paint stripper is applied a high power pressure washer is used to remove the markings. It is a very labor intensive.

Tony Lauria co-owns Fleet Pressure with his brother. They have been spending a great deal of time tracking the graffiti through out Buffalo this summer.

And while the graffiti task force and authorities work on tracking and arrest the vandals, John Barnes reminds building owners that if their property is hit, they are required to remove the graffiti.

If the vandals are caught, the property owners would be allowed to seek restitution.

Barnes said graffiti will never go away. The task force works to reduce and eliminate the markings.

He said covering it up serves only as a "quick fix." Removal is the best way to tell vandals the public isn't interested in their unsightly markings.