Fourth Avenue merchants between Sixth and Ninth streets were tagged with massive amounts of graffiti Friday night, dousing the holiday spirit for the eclectic shopping district.
Some merchants dabbed at the scrawls with mismatched paint over the weekend, but plenty remained Monday as the city Graffiti Removal Program sent out a private contractor to restore Fourth Avenue to its normal colorful look.
“This is the worst that’s ever happened,” said John Sedwick, executive director of the Fourth Avenue Merchants Association. “They did it everywhere. It wasn’t even good art.”
The brick wall at Antigone Books, 411 N. Fourth Ave., had graffiti scrawled the width of five parking spaces. Co-owner Trudy Mills couldn’t quite match the purple paint as she worked Saturday to vanquish the graffiti.
“Trudy said, ‘I painted over it for an hour and it still looks terrible,’ ” said co-owner Kate Randall. “It’s very disheartening to me. I just want to say, ‘Why, why, why?’ ”
Food Conspiracy Co-op, 412 N. Fourth Ave., got sidewalk-level graffiti Friday night to go with the graffiti painted onto the turret earlier this month.
“Usually, we get tagged in the back alleyway,” general manager Ben Kuzma said. “I’m a little more concerned about (the turret) because of security issues.”
Much of the graffiti on Fourth Avenue are simple scrawls, sometimes just a short word.
“It’s like they jump out of a car, squirt a few lines and run off,” Kuzma said.
The city identified 30 tags for Graffiti Protective Coatings to paint over with shades matching the colors as closely as possible, said Elizeo Garza, director of the city Department of Neighborhood Services, which handles the Graffiti Removal Program.
“Whenever we get a hot spot like this, we try to respond as quickly as we can to counteract the notion that this stuff will stay up there,” said Garza, adding that the artwork on the Broadway underpass was also tagged Sunday night.
Sedwick said the merchants association is offering a $1,000 reward for information on the taggers.
He said episodes like this illustrate why the association favored the sidewalk video camera surveillance that the City Council tabled a few months ago.
“This goes back to us being strongly in favor of cameras,” Sedwick said.