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YOU ASKED: What's with the graffiti around town?

The word “rise” has been written in approximately 50 locations around town, according to Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels. (Beth Leipholtz | Echo Press)1 / 2
The tunnel that runs under North Nokomis Street on the Central Lakes Trail is a popular spot for graffiti and is painted over multiple times each year. (Beth Leipholtz | Echo Press)2 / 2

Graffiti is not a new problem, nor is it a problem unique to the Alexandria area. But recently, the word "rise" has been spray painted in numerous places around the town — as many as 50 locations, according to Alexandria Police Chief Rick Wyffels — and is causing some concern among community members.

"It's not just one place," Wyffels said. "So what we are doing about it is trying to encourage the landowners who are affected to cover it up and also for our citizens to keep their eyes open for who's doing it."

According to Wyffels, there is no suspicion that the "rise" graffiti is part of gang activity. The Alexandria Police Department is actively working to determine what the meaning of the graffiti is.

"It's not a gang graffiti like you'd think, or a person who's an artist," Wyffels said. "It's somebody doing the same thing over and over. We're not sure what the connection is to anything yet, but it needs to stop."

Jillayne Carlson, a business owner in Alexandria, says she finds the amount of graffiti in downtown concerning.

"As a small business owner in our newly renovated downtown, I feel embarrassed and frankly unsafe," she said. "I love the Alexandria area and the graffiti is sad and scary to me."

In addition to the recent "rise" graffiti, Alexandria also deals with other types of graffiti. The tunnel on the Central Lakes Trail is a popular spot, as is the railroad track bridge across the trail. When the weather is warm enough, the Parks Department will paint over the existing graffiti, something that is repeated a few times each year.

"We want to catch the person doing this, but let's not wait to take care of the problem until we catch them," Wyffels said. "Let's clean our community as we go."

If you find your home or business has been graffitied, Wyffels says to cover it up as soon as possible.

"Be proactive," he said. "Keep it clean if you can. Graffiti or writing on walls will just breed more writing on walls."

Beth Leipholtz

Beth is a reporter at the Echo Press. She graduated from the College of Saint Benedict in May 2015 with a degree in Communication and Hispanic Studies. Journalism has always been her passion, but she also enjoys blogging and graphic design. In her spare time, she's most likely at Crossfit or at home with her boyfriend and three dogs.

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