Vandals spray painted large amounts of graffiti around the downtown core early Thursday, covering building fronts with messages lionizing arrested protester Zach St. John and demonizing the Spokane police.
The two blocks of Wall Street between the Spokane Transit Plaza and Riverfront Park were especially hard hit, with graffiti smeared across the Olive Garden, Runners Soul, Sterling Savings and other businesses.
“This is one of the worst days we’ve seen,” said Anthony Scrano, the Spokane County Department of Corrections sergeant who oversees the Geiger Corrections “Clean Team” inmates who clear downtown of trash and graffiti.
“St. John did no wrong,” said one painted message, referring to the protester who was arrested during the Fourth of July anti-police protest in Riverfront Park. Seventeen people were arrested at the event, sparking controversy over whether they were lawfully protesting.
“Who polices the police?” was another message sprayed on the side of a building.
Other messages included anarchy symbols, accused police of corruption and contained expletives.
Some spoke of a “St. James,” although none of the adults arrested July 4 has that name. It was unclear whether that’s the name of a juvenile arrested at the protest or a mistaken reference to St. John.
“This was all done by the same bunch. It’s all anti-police,” Scrano said.
Also hit were the Global Credit Union on Riverside Avenue and Post Street, the Davenport Hotel and Rocky Rococo’s Pizza, among others.
Police are investigating the graffiti spree, said Officer Dean Draper.
“It’s being taken out against businesses and folks that have nothing to do with these issues,” Draper said. He added that some of the business owners expressed frustration at being caught in the middle of a conflict between police and anarchists.
Police are reviewing video surveillance footage from some of the shops.
Graffiti and other vandalism are a constant problem downtown, said Ron Hall, co-owner of the Steelhead Bar and Grille.
Vandals have repeatedly spray painted his building, broken planters and caused other damage, Hall said.
The Downtown Spokane Partnership funds trash and graffiti cleanup in the downtown core. Scrano’s team cleans up graffiti on a daily basis. They attack 2,500 to 3,000 pieces of graffiti a month with spray-paint remover and a power washer, Scrano said.
Without that daily attention Spokane “would look like east L.A.,” he said.
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe now to get breaking news alerts in your email inbox
Get breaking news delivered to your inbox as it happens.