Community

Josh White doesn’t like the look of Louisville these days.

“It looks gritty,” he said. “I don’t want it to look gritty.”

White said he believes graffiti is a major problem for the city, which is why last year, he launched the Graffiti Abatement Coalition. The group released a report on Wednesday saying Louisville’s urban core has more than 6,000 instances of graffiti.

White, 33, the survey took nearly five months to complete. He claims the actual graffiti count is likely much higher, but the volunteers and coalition members who undertook the census weren’t able to scour every nook of each neighborhood.

White believes much of the graffiti was done by a handful of artists.

“There are a couple of career vandals, and the career vandals are people who pick up the spray paint can and, as far as we can tell, never put it down,” White said.

Butchertown had 1,156 instances of graffiti — the most of the city’s urban neighborhoods, according to the coalition’s report.

InfographicJacob Ryan | wfpl.org

In the coming months, White said he’ll present a comprehensive plan to Mayor Greg Fischer and the Metro Council in an effort to get more resources for graffiti abatement. He said he wants to persuade police, code enforcement officials and others to focus on repeat offenders of vandalism laws.

“Law enforcement, their job is to figure out who’s doing it and get ahold of them somehow to get them into the legal system,” he said.

Major Mark Fox, who commands the Louisville Metro Police’s Fifth Division, told WDRB last summer he doesn’t have enough officers to allow anyone in his division to focus solely on catching and stopping graffiti artists. And Louisville police don’t keep track of how many graffiti artists have been arrested or cited.

But White said he believes “there’s money to spread across all the programs, and this should not be neglected like it has been for 15 years.”

He said he’ll likely ask the Metro Council to allocate $500,000 to $1 million in city funds to provide a budget for the Graffiti Abatement Coalition. The group would use the funds to remove graffiti from public and private property across Louisville.

Councilwoman Cheri Bryant Hamilton, a Democrat from District 5 and chair of the council’s budget committee, said she agrees that graffiti is a problem. But she said funds directed toward abatement programs would have to be reviewed by the committee “along with all the other requests we receive.”

Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Fischer, said: “With all the other pressing needs and competing interests, this is unlikely to be a high priority.”

Jacob Ryan is a reporter for the Kentucky Center for Investigative Reporting.