Graffiti: Tag – You’re an Eyesore!

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MANCHESTER, NH – On a recent Sunday morning, Peter Pitula was busy painting the exterior of Manchester’s newest eatery, Beanstalk Cafe, on Chestnut Street. He explained that owner Jane Beaulieu is worried about being “tagged” by vandals who have been active on the street, leaving graffiti in plain view.

In an effort to combat graffiti vandalism, Manchester’s Highway Department in 2010 purchased a van and cleaning equipment to remove graffiti from public areas and private property if it is visible from the City’s right of way and is safely accessible by Highway Department’s personnel and equipment, according to the police website.

The site also provides do-it-yourself removal tips, including:


* Public property: Call 624-6444 to report graffiti on public property and the Highway Department will address it as soon as possible.
* Private property: complete and submit an (owner request form) to the Highway Department.

A variety of effective graffiti removal products for different surfaces are available at local hardware and paint stores. Here are some general suggestions below, but read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully since some products can be toxic. Newer products are biodegradable and less toxic.

  • Painted Surfaces (wood, concrete, stucco, etc.): Apply a stain-killing primer or pigmented shellac. This will keep the graffiti from bleeding through fresh paint. Repaint surface with a color that closely matches the original surface.
  • Unpainted surfaces (brick, cement, stone etc): Use extra-strength paint remover or graffiti remover. Apply with a wire brush, allow to set, rinse with water.
  • Stucco: Use paint remover, wash off with a high-pressure water hose. Or use stucco paint to thoroughly cover graffiti.
  • Metal, aluminum siding, fiberglass: Use carburetor cleaner or use paint remover sparingly; rinse carefully.
  • Vinyl Siding: use caution because solvents may work too aggressively and remove the vinyl coating. Use paint remover sparingly. Use a clean rag and keep applying the clean dry rag with every light wipe. If the solvent is allowed to stay for even a short period of time, it will penetrate and you may have to repaint. Use primer to match and then matching paint to adhere to the vinyl for restoration.
  • Glass, Plexiglas: use carburetor cleaner.

Read the complete guide to graffiti on the Manchester Police website with details on how to remove graffiti, how to report an incidence of graffiti on your home or business, and how to organize the community to fight graffiti. You can read more here.

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 8.40.37 AM>Click here to read more about Intown Manchester’s Central Business Service District graffiti assistance program.

Know your graffiti (From the Manchester Police website:)

There are four types of graffiti:  Tagger/hip hop; gang; hate; and generic. The most difficult types of graffiti to deal with are acid etchings and tagger/hip hop graffiti because surface restoration can be expensive.

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 8.42.53 AM* Gang: Gang graffiti is dangerous. Graffiti is how gangs identify “turf.” This type of graffiti may spell out a gang name, their geographic area, or a numeric identifier. It can sometimes show an entire list of gang nicknames called a “roll call” or “roster.” Gang graffiti serves several purposes, all of which is understood by other “gangbangers,” even members of rival sets. Graffiti has been called the newspaper or bulletin boards for gangs, and communicates many messages, including violent challenges, warnings, and pronouncements of deeds accomplished or about to occur.

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 8.43.46 AM

* Tagger or Hip Hop: Tagger or Hip Hop graffiti is the most prevalent in Manchester. Tagger graffiti vandals like to be called “graffiti writers.” Graffiti is a culture or a way of life for most graffiti writers. Graffiti writers gain recognition and status from their peers by placing distinctive “tags or graffiti monikers” in as many places as possible, in the most high-risk places, and by how artistic the graffiti is. The intent is for other graffiti writers to see the graffiti. There are basically three types of graffiti classified as tagger graffiti.Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 8.43.26 AM

* Hate: This type of graffiti expresses messages of hate against some members or groups within a community. Quite often, these are either expressed in symbols, or in short messages putting down someone’s race, religion or ethnicity.

Screen shot 2014-06-20 at 8.44.50 AM* Generic: Generic graffiti is usually innocent in nature, yet carries the same expensive price tag for removal. Often expressions of love (Johnny loves Suzy), school name/year of graduation (Central High, Class of 2005). Defacing public and private property with unauthorized markings also fall within this category.

How do you think the city does with graffiti control? Tell us in the comments field.

To add a photo to our graffiti gallery, email images to, subject: graffiti.

About this Author


Carol Robidoux

PublisherManchester Ink Link

Longtime NH journalist and publisher of Loves R&B, German beer, and the Queen City!