Graffiti Must Go in Fresno

September 25, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Gang graffiti and tagging are chronic problems in the city of Fresno and now the police Chief wants to put an end to it with harsher punishments. Action News reporter John-Thomas Kobos shows us how serious the problem is.Many painters gauge the quality of their work and success with each stroke of their brush. Cornell Contreras gauges his success by spraying and removing would be artists illegally tagging homes and businesses in Southeast Fresno.

Contreras: "Pretty much it's scribble. They're in a hurry to write it that they don't take time to spell it out."

Anything that can be tagged, will be tagged and often is tagged. But Contreras and 10 other graffiti abatement team members are spread out across town covering up these eyesores, making it look like it was never there?even if it only lasts for a day.

"You know sometimes you think it's going away and all of a sudden it will spur back up," said Contreras.

A trend police Chief Jerry Dyer has noticed. "We continue to see the numbers of those individuals involved in tagging crews grow."

Dyer said that's leading to more violence.

The Fresno police department investigated 182 stabbings and shootings from the beginning of this year. They discovered 41 of them involved members of a tagging crew.

Dyer: "Which is why it's so important for us to remove that graffiti timely but to also identify those individuals that are tagging and to arrest them and hold them accountable."

Currently Dyer is pressing the state to validate seven Fresno tagging crews as gangs which would extend their time in jail. If that does not work Dyer wants to hold the parents financially responsible.

Meanwhile, every weekday morning starting at 6 you'll find Contreras on the street or in the thick of it ... "Until it's all gone I guess I'll fill this niche," he said.

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