Graffiti vandalism spikes in Richmond, removal program cleans it for free

The city of Richmond is dealing with a rise in graffiti.
Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 4:22 PM EDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - If you are seeing more graffiti in Richmond, your eyes are not deceiving you.

Those with the city’s graffiti removal program say the amount of vandalism has skyrocketed recently, and crews are working daily to help clean it all up.

“In 2022, we did 1,300 locations, and in 2023 we are trying to do about over 2,000 locations,” DPW Street Cleaning Operations Manager Vassar Sumpter said. “It’s a lot of retags, a lot of going back to the same locations over and over and over again.”

The graffiti removal program is a free service provided by the city.

Sumpter says graffiti became more prevalent following the protests and civil unrest in the summer of 2020. Since then, crews have been stretched thin.

“They have a full schedule, he said. “There’s really not a day that we can take off.”

In 2021, the city received 275 requests to remove graffiti in the entire year. Now, in just the last two months, the city received nearly 276 requests.

The program is hoping to expand its workforce.

“We definitely do have a need, but we’re trying to fill it in a way where we can train those people up properly because it is it’s a technical job,” Sumpter said.

Sumpter says the most graffiti pops up between Scott’s Addition and The Fan. They can only do so much to prevent vandalism, but the art community has stepped up.

“Murals are great,’ Sumpter said. “They do help us out a lot.”

Even though the graffiti removal teams are swamped, they say they’re overwhelmed with appreciation for their services.

“It has a big impact on the city. When people come down Broad St., they want to see beautiful buildings and not graffiti,” Sumpter said. “It is can’t really beat that, and the process is pretty simple. It definitely makes the city look better.”

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.