Graffiti angers bldg. owners

Published 5:00 am Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The word “respect” looms large in the graffiti in the alley andparking area behind Phillips Military Surplus. The business owners,though, find the “artwork” anything but respectful.

The spray-painted words, which cover the backs of severalbusinesses in the alleyway, also speak of Jesus and love andsomething called “the Zombie Crew.”

Store owners Judy and Don Phillips, whose business is closed butwho still use the building, said the graffiti started a few weeksago.

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“It didn’t happen all in one night,” Judy Phillips said. “Partof it happened at one time, then something was added a few dayslater, and then someone came back and wrote good things about Jesusand love.”

Don Phillips said the “art” started in the alley and graduallygrew to encompass the backs of several businesses. Judy Phillipssaid she and her husband want to press charges.

And Police Chief Pap Henderson said that when the perpetratorsare caught, they will face malicious mischief charges.

“We’re patrolling the area nightly,” he said. “And we’refollowing every lead we can come up with.”

Meanwhile, the Phillipses said removing the defacement has beenquite a task.

“I visited three stores trying to find out how to get rid ofit,” Judy Phillips said. “Paint thinner doesn’t touch it. What’sworked best is fingernail polish remover, but can you see me downthere with a little old bottle of fingernail polish remover?”

And even property owners’ efforts to undo the damage themselveshas backfired.

Judy Phillips said they’re getting angry. She said some buildingowners even tried to paint over it, but the new paint layer washardly dry before the would-be artists were back.

“Property owners have worked really hard to have that, and tokeep it looking OK,” she said. “Defacing that property doesn’t setwell with us.”

Phillips said at one point she was even willing to put up areward to find the vandals.

“I would just like for people to know about how hateful thisis,” she said. “What a mess they’ve made.”

A $1,000 reward is available through the Lincoln CountyCrimestoppers for information leading to the apprehension andconviction of certain crimes, and anonymous tips can be left on theCrimestoppers line. Meanwhile, Henderson said anyone withinformation can also notify the Brookhaven Police Department.

“We would love for anyone with information to come forward,” hesaid.

Crimestoppers can be reached at (601) 823-0150. The policedepartment’s number is (601) 833-2424.