Lynnwood hiring employees solely to remove gang-related graffiti

Mar 2, 2023, 4:34 PM | Updated: 11:01 pm
A man cleans graffiti from the exterior of a boarded up storefront. (Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)
(Photo by David Ryder/Getty Images)

The Lynnwood parks department has requested funds to hire two employees to primarily focus on removing graffiti throughout the city.

The Lynnwood City Council approved of nearly $400,000 of funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to combat graffiti, which passed on a 6-0 vote by the council late last month.

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“Last week, [we] provided you an extensive presentation on the issues we are facing in our parks. I think nothing has really changed since last Monday — we’ve been tagged even more this week. It’s very unprecedented,” Parks, Recreation & Cultural Arts Department Director Lynn Sordel said to the council during a public meeting.

“I’m all for it. I think that this kind of graffiti, not only is it a blight, but I don’t think that you can leave it up because you don’t want that kind of gang land territorial ownership, right?” Jack Stine said on KIRO Newsradio. “You don’t want it there, and I don’t think anybody should have to see this when you’re taking your kids to the park or taking your dog for a walk or driving.”

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“Down the freeway, you can not find 12 square feet of concrete, you’re going to see on the I-5 corridor that hasn’t been tagged by somebody’s gang affiliation,” Spike O’Neill replied. “And maybe they’re not all gangs, maybe they’re just kids trying to make their mark or be recognized or be seen in the world, I don’t know.”

Last year, Lynnwood, which originally had 71 law enforcement officers, approved of five additional positions in response to a series of violent gang-related incidents after local leaders and community members pined for the return of school resource officers during a “Let’s Talk About Public Safety” forum.

The forum followed a series of gang-related violent instances, including a drive-by shooting leaving two teens injured, a second drive-by shooting resulting in the deaths of 16-year-old Jesus Sanchez, Jr. and 15-year-old Tidus Goodwin-Linville, and an additional shooting at Pick and Pull in Lynnwood.

“It’s hard to decipher this stuff,” Stine said regarding figuring out what graffiti is gang-related. “Generally what they’re doing is, they’re not only communicating to other gangs out there, but also to themselves like, for instance, a memorial to one of their friends on one side of the panel. And then, on the other side of the panel, they’re letting people know that this belongs to us.

“So sad in many ways that kids and young adults end up doing this kind of thing in order to — this is a bad pun — but make their mark on the Earth,” Stine continued.

Gee & Ursula: Graffiti arrests will set standards for punishment

Last December, Seattle police arrested two graffiti taggers with first-degree malicious mischief after being accused of causing more than $300,000 in damage.

KIRO Newsradio | 12 p.m. - 3 p.m.

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Lynnwood hiring employees solely to remove gang-related graffiti