Now you see it, now you don’t: City goes on a graffiti removal blitz through western Queens neighborhoods

Councilman Francisco Moya at left) repaints a roll-down gate during a massive graffiti removal blitz in his district on March 20.
Photos and videos courtesy of Councilman Francisco Moya

The first day of spring meant a major spring cleaning effort in Corona, Elmhurst and Jackson Heights.

Officers from two police precincts, the city’s Economic Development Corporation and Councilman Francisco Moya teamed up on March 20 for a graffiti removal blitz through the three neighborhoods. Crews repainted or power-washed dozens of locations scarred with spray-painted tags that had become community eyesores.

For Moya, the cleanup wasn’t just about beautifying the area — it was also a reclamation project.

“Our Graffiti Cleanup Day is an effort to return these neighborhoods to the residents and workers who make them unique and special communities they are,” Moya said. “Whether it’s gang-related graffiti or general vandalism, the people who live and work in these neighborhoods deserve better than to have to pass scrawls on buildings and storefronts on their way to and from work and school.”

The cleanup, which occurred within Moya’s 21st Council District, began at 11 a.m. on March 20, with members of the 110th and 115th precincts and four vehicles provided by the EDC’s Graffiti-Free NYC program deployed to graffiti-marred locations. These included homes, garages, businesses and Long Island Rail Road overpasses.

They worked quickly, too. Watch this team use an airbrush to paint over tags on this two-car garage in less than three minutes:

Moya himself also got into the act, repainting a roll-down gate with an air brush:

Graffiti-Free NYC was launched in 1999 as part of an ongoing effort to eradicate vandalism throughout the five boroughs. Cleaning and repainting services are provided free of charge to property owners.

“We are proud to celebrate 20 years of improving the quality of life for our residents and beautifying the city through our Graffiti-Free NYC program,” EDC President and CEO James Patchett said. “We look forward to furthering our work through partnerships like this, and with social service organizations and local businesses to enhance the five boroughs.”

A Graffiti-Free NYC crew on 44th Avenue and 104th Street on March 20.

While some view graffiti as street art, others see it as symptomatic of more serious problems in a community. Street gangs have been known to tag locations to mark their turf; a renewed emphasis to remove gang-related graffiti occurred last month after an MS-13 gang member fatally shot a rival at the 90th Street-Elmhurst Avenue station on the 7 line in Jackson Heights.

City Councilman Francisco Moya and officers from the 110th and 115th Precincts, and a representative of Graffiti-Free NYC.

Graffiti vandalism is a crime in New York City; the city offers a $500 reward for individuals who provide information that leads to the arrest of a graffiti vandal. Call 311 to provide a tip; callers may remain anonymous.

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