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"We want to keep Milwaukee a graffiti-free city:" Aggressive approach being taken to eliminate graffiti

To a tagger, it's art. To some others, it's an eyesore.

The city of Milwaukee is taking an aggressive approach to get rid of graffiti.

From Port Washington to Caledonia to Milwaukee, it seems like it's a never-ending battle with the taggers and their spray paint cans.

"Some spots they mostly hit all the time and we constantly have to go over the same spots all the time," said Renee Chappell, a graffiti cleaner.

On this north side building, the battle is being fought by Reggie Butler and Renee Chappell.

"It's a fun job, it's very interesting to do."

They are city employees, dispatched by the anti-graffiti unit of the Department of Neighborhood Services. Reggie and Renee are just painting over it.

"This is the easiest part to do, other than blasting," Chappell said.

Sometimes erasing graffiti requires blasting. Other times, citrus-centered cleaner in a spray bottle and steel wool does the trick.

"We are on top of it and we want to keep Milwaukee a graffiti-free city," said Herlyn Roberson, a Graffiti Administrator. 

Roberson is the graffiti administrator. When calls come into the DNS Call Center, upwards of 300 monthly just for graffiti, they're processed and referred to the appropriate department.

No city is immune to graffiti, Port Washington sees it too.

"It's time-consuming and it takes away from what we're trying to do, to go and actually clean off the graffiti," James Hoile, Street Commissioner said.

While the city says they don't have a graffiti problem, it does happen and sometimes in the same spot over and over again. The lighthouse at the mouth of the harbor is one example. Over the years, it has seen its fair share of graffiti but the city decided to do something about it. They have it a fresh coat of paint within the last year, anti-graffiti paint.

"It comes off a lot easier than if on a typical surface where you might be scrubbing for a half hour," Hoile said.

State law says a person could be charged with a misdemeanor or a felony if he or she is caught tagging something.

In Milwaukee, someone could face hefty fines and even time behind bars if caught.

Three cases involving graffiti vandalism have gone through Milwaukee County Court this year. There were 18 total last year.

If you see graffiti, you can report it by calling (414)-286-8715.



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