Arlandria, Hume Springs Residents Express Concerns Over Graffiti
Residents say Four Mile Run Park and Hume Springs Park have become regular targets of vandalism and gang tags.
Residents of Hume Springs and Arlandria say graffiti is becoming more prominent in their neighborhoods in recent months, including some referencing gangs.
Jacob Cuomo, an officer with the Hume Springs Citizens Association, noticed graffiti on the new drive-thru stations at the newly renovated McDonald’s located at 121 W. Glebe Rd. early the morning of Oct. 1 and reported it to the police.
“Some of this graffiti is fairly disturbing and causes me some concern with the type of folks that are frequenting the neighborhood,” Cuomo said.
The graffiti included derogatory messages for the Alexandria Police Department and the Del Ray neighborhood. Some of it was sexually explicit.
Residents say they have noticed an uptick in graffiti and vandalism particularly in the areas in and around Hume Springs Park and Four Mile Run Park.
In Hume Springs Park, trees have been damaged, including a sapling that was planted in honor of Earth Day. Profane graffiti has popped up in both parks on playground equipment, picnic tables and paved surfaces like pathways and tennis courts.
“What I personally cannot handle is when my own son has to be taken away from the park… because of profane graffiti everywhere, overwhelming litter, broken beer bottles, and unsafe conditions in the park,” Michael Peter, another officer with the Hume Springs Citizens Association, wrote in an email.
Some of the graffiti discovered in the parks referenced gangs, including MS-13 and other sets.
A spokesperson with the Alexandria police said officers have not noticed an increase in graffiti in the city's northeast corner.
“We have not seen an increase in gang graffiti in that area,” Jody Donaldson wrote in an email to Patch. “And not all graffiti is gang related. We just ask if anybody sees graffiti or people in the act to call the police right away so that we can address the issue and get it cleaned up as soon as possible.”
Arlandria resident Kevin Beekman said he has reported hundreds of gang tags over the years. Recent court cases referencing serious gang activity in the neighborhood have him concerned about the uptick in graffiti.
Several residents say they see more police vehicles parked at Potomac Yard shopping center instead of patroling their neighborhoods.
“We know that there's gang activity in Arlandria. The FBI and Department of Justice have been recently prosecuting a couple of gangs that have been trafficking 12- and 14-year-old girls for sex in the neighborhood,” Beekman wrote in an email. “That's why this is so disturbing. The graffiti waxes and wanes. … It's always confrontational in nature. When it crops up, it's important to talk about it because tensions between gangs are obviously rising.”
Donaldson said the most efficient way for citizens to report graffiti is to call the APD’s non-emergency number at 703-746-4444. He asks callers to be prepared to give a description and specific location of the graffiti, especially if the person filing the complaint cannot meet with an officer.
APD works with the city’s departments of Transportation and Environmental Services and Parks, Recreation and Cultural Activities to remove graffiti.