Mayor Jim Suttle and City Council member Garry Gernandt painted over a graffiti-plastered wall in South Omaha to send a message:
“This is something we will not tolerate in our city,” Suttle said Monday.
The city leaders held a press conference beneath a Kennedy Expressway overpass, partly to urge residents to contact the Mayor’s Hotline to report graffiti in their neighborhoods or take measures to clean up minor problems themselves. The wall they painted is on the west side of the expressway near Albright Park, at 21st and Madison Streets.
The city has assigned a Public Works Department employee to work on graffiti removal efforts on a full-time basis, Suttle said. The city also has hundreds of graffiti removal kits available for volunteers to use.
Gernandt, who represents South Omaha and has been an advocate for bolstered anti-graffiti efforts, said the city is working to do more to tackle the problem.
“Our youngsters today have to decide whether they want a canvas or cuffs,” he said. “I think we’re doing a good job on the cuffs end of it, but we need to work a little bit harder on prevention.”
Long a recurring problem in South Omaha, graffiti has infuriated residents for its degradation of property values and its perceived links to gang activity. Officials, though, believe that the vast majority of graffiti in the city is not gang-related.
“It not only harms the neighborhood or businesses that have been tagged, but it has a negative impact on community pride and economic development throughout Omaha,” Suttle said.
Omahans can report graffiti by calling the Mayor’s Hotline at 402-444-5555. Residents who want a graffiti removal kit can contact Kayleen Young, the Public Works employee assigned to anti-graffiti efforts, at 402-444-5245.
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