ISLIP, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The Town of Islip has suffered an embarrassing setback in its efforts to crack down on graffiti.
As CBS2’s Dana Tyler reported, instead of cleaning up one area, graffiti blasters got kicked off the property.
Just minutes after Islip town workers began covering over graffiti on a building, a news conference by Islip Town Supervisor Angie Carpenter was suddenly broken up by security guards.
“This is not the Town of Islip. It’s private property,” a security guard said.
“I know,” Carpenter said, “and we’re responding to a request to remove this graffiti.”
The Islip supervisor argued with security that the town received permission to clean up the New York Institute of Technology property, but security continued to follow town officials until they left the property.
Carpenter called it a miscommunication.
“It was a private trail that the people in that neighborhood used to walk in,” she said. “They were upset about the graffiti, so we responded.”
The public relations mix-up came as town officials announced that after years of budget cuts, the town would once again have its anti-graffiti truck out targeting the gangs’ handiwork.
Town workers welcomed the truck’s return to duty.
“About three years ago, we practically wiped out all the graffiti,” said Wes Cole of the Islip Department of Public Works. “They started leaving me messages” on the walls, he said.
Cole said the messages were death threats.
Town workers said businesses are frequently targeted by gangs hanging out overnight while the businesses are closed, but graffiti has been showing up in residential neighborhoods too.
One resident called it an insult to neighbors trying to improve their properties.
“They put a lot of labor into it, whether it’s being, hiring people to do construction on it or doing it themselves,” said Steven Matutat of Brentwood. “And I don’t want that messed up for myself.”
Residents can now call for the town truck to clean up, free of charge, any graffiti slapped on homes.
A representative of the New York Institute of Technology said the institution supports the town’s anti-graffiti effort, but will remove the graffiti themselves from the property from which the supervisor was kicked off on Tuesday.