The front line on squashing Graffiti tagging starts with the community. Towards this end, a downtown Sault Ste. Marie business, Foch’s Cleaners, (fittingly) played host on Tuesday August 18th, for the official launch of a concerted effort to clean up Graffiti tagging. “Tagging is not art” shared Constable Joe Addison of the Sault Ste. Marie Police Service. “Over the last couple of years, there has been an escalation in Graffiti damage to property, especially in the downtown area of The Sault.” adding “We are not talking about a large contingent of people doing this (tagging). In fact, it is a small group of individuals that we are looking to isolate and stop.” Constable Addison further explained that for a city of our size, “we do not experience any more or any less Graffiti tagging, however it creates harm to businesses, and can lead to feelings of unease for citizens living and working in communities. We have a beautiful downtown area, and through this initiative, one that is volunteer citizen and business driven, we can clean up unwanted tagging.”
The top portion of the exterior building housing Foch’s Cleaners is a prime example of Graffiti tagging. “We believe that three taggers are responsible for 25% of the Graffiti in our city” shared Chief Bob Keetch. Local citizen mobilization strategies can make a real impact on reducing tagging, and the negative impacts in our community. A shared responsibility and engagement with business, municipal government, community citizens and police will ultimately clean up the mess left by tagging” Chief Keetch further said that prompt reporting and removal can go a long way to quelling this small group of graffiti bandits. Bandits who are, in fact, in violation of a criminal code, and subject to criminal charges and prosecution. “The Sault Ste. Marie Police Service will continue to enforce the law where it applies to individuals who are damaging property with graffiti tagging.”
Chief Keetch was joined by Detective Constable Joe Addison, Staff Sergeant Jane Martynuck, Rick Muskaluk of Heritage Home Hardware, and Jerry Dolcetti, Commissioner, Engineering and Planning, City of Sault Ste. Marie and Downtown Association President Duane Moleni along with youth volunteers who are ready to get busy cleaning up unwanted graffiti. Heritage Home Hardware has donated the material and supplies necessary for the volunteers to ‘paint it clean’.
“We are looking to get as much done as possible over the course of Graffiti Week, including the underpass on Wellington St. West.” said Jerry Dolcetti.
The Foch’s Cleaners building on Queen St. E. will have a team of youth volunteers ‘untagging’ it over the course of the Graffiti Week initiative.