Richmond sees ‘significant uptick in graffiti’ since 2020, offers free cleaning

The city of Richmond is dealing with a rise in graffiti. It’s littering many streets and sidewalks.
Published: Aug. 29, 2022 at 6:40 PM EDT
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - The city of Richmond is dealing with a rise in graffiti. It’s littering many streets and sidewalks.

Officials say this trend spans from the southside to the Fan. This week on Bainbridge Street, several murals have been vandalized with black spray paint.

“There’s been a significant uptick in graffiti in the city, especially in the downtown and Fan area,” DPW Street Cleaning Operations Manager Vassar Sumpter said. “Lots of tags, lots of large lettering, and things like that. A lot of sidewalk graffiti is something new this year.”

This trend has only become more prevalent since 2020.

“It’s definitely been a significant uptick since the protests, and really it has not stopped since,” Sumpter said.

“This is your neighborhood,” Johnny Johnson, Owner of Johnny on the Spot said. “Why screw it up?”

Johnson has been using his crews and resources to help clean up the vandalism, free of charge. However, he says the spray paint keeps reappearing overnight.

“It’s sort of turned for the worse recently,” Johnson said. “People are just tearing it up as fast as we get it cleaned up.”

He is most upset that the vandals have ruined murals that local artists painted.

“They spent a lot of time doing it, I’d say at least three weeks doing these two sides,” Johnson said.

They haven’t caught the suspects yet, but Richmond police work closely with the Department of Public Works to target areas that are hot spots for vandalism.

Businesses like Johnson’s are now policing their surrounding area to protect themselves.

“We do have cameras on our building, but they don’t reach down this far,” Johnson said. “Unfortunately, we can’t help with that part of policing.”

In the meantime, they’re focused on helping the city of Richmond with cleaning efforts.

“They’ve actually contracted me because they are so busy,” Johnson said.

The city also offers a graffiti removal service.

“The best thing about it is that it’s free,” Sumpter said.

If you see any graffiti or vandalism on your property, before contacting a company that charges you to come out and fix it, reach out to the city.

You can report any vandalism through RVA 311.