One downtown Middletown business owner believes gangs are responsible for the latest vandalism, and she doesn’t like the message that sends to the community.
On Saturday morning — on a weekend when the city hosted the Ohio Balloon Challenge, one of its biggest tourism events — someone spray painted several downtown buildings on Central Avenue and at least one vehicle that was parked downtown. Several business owners spent part of Monday scraping the letters off their store-front windows and power washing the paint off their buildings.
The vandals struck sometime Saturday morning and hit Central Avenue businesses, including Blast Furnace Pizza, Tobacco Connection, the former Buck’s Diner and a truck used for the Broad Street Bash.
Adriane Scherrer, who runs the Broad Street Bash, a downtown concert series, said she thinks the graffiti is the work of gang members.
“Eventually there will be notification between this group and this group where your territory is and what you’re up to, and they transmit that information with graffiti,” said Scherrer, who has taken courses on gang graffiti.
She said one side of a truck that is used to store Bash items was struck by vandals. She said the non-profit agency will have to spend the money — about $50 to $100 — to clean the paint off the white truck.
Scherrer said she was angry Saturday as she drove down Central Avenue and saw the vandalism to the properties.
“There is a core pf people who have been working for years to improve downtown and to make it feel safe,” she said. “A bunch of tagging doesn’t make people feel safe. They don’t know what it means. But they know it means there is a gang around somewhere.”
Her message to those responsible: “You don’t have to destroy our property.”
A Middletown community activist Jeri Lewis, whose family owns several downtown properties, described the graffiti as “a spraying spree.”
She said Middletown police are working “diligently” to catch the vandals and she hopes one of the downtown businesses may have filmed the vandals on their surveillance cameras.
When asked her reaction to the graffiti, Lewis said: “That’s unfortunate you know. Whenever there is revitalization, when people are taking back the city, there is resistance. We just have to clean it off and continue moving forward.”
Lewis hopes those responsible for the damage are caught. She’s like to talk to them and find out why they damaged the buildings.
“Get to the root of why they did this,” she said. “That’s how my brain works. Kill them with kindness. We have enough hate in the city. We don’t need anymore.”
She’d like to give them community service.