Cleaning crews provide “bright side” to St. Louis buildings hit with graffiti

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ST. LOUIS - Cleaning crews spent the afternoon painting over graffiti at an abandoned building in north St. Louis.

The work was nothing new to them, but it came to a surprise to those passing by.

“I work up in here and I walk up and down here all the time on Dr. Marin Luther King. As I saw them painting, I thought I’d ask, what’s going on,” Cassandra Smith said.

As it turns out, the group of painters work for Brightside St. Louis, a not-for-profit organization with a mission to clean up and beautify St. Louis.

“We’re removing graffiti from about 4,000 vandalized sites every year. And that can be public spaces, it can be private buildings, home garages. We’ve even removed graffiti from churches and schools,” Brightside St. Louis Executive Director Mary Lou Green said.

Brightside St. Louis is funded through grants and private donations. The organization will mark its 35th anniversary next month.

Crews either power-wash or paint over graffiti, depending on the surface and type of instrument used to “tag,” Green said.

Green said the removal of graffiti sends a message to the neighborhood.

“There’s a playground over here. There’s two churches,” she said.
“There’s stuff here, and there’s investment in this community. And by removing graffiti, we’re protecting property values.”