Police said they had 13 reports of vandalism, including businesses, a church and a fire station.
"The police were up the street talking to somebody, and that's when I saw all this (graffiti) on the side of my building," said Mike Carroll, who owns a florist shop. "When you come in and see all of this, I don't understand it at all."
Carroll recently painted his building yellow, but it was spray-painted with obscenities and vulgar pictures, including a message about the Knightdale Police Department. Authorities covered the side of the building with a tarp Friday morning because it faces a neighboring church day-care playground, and Carroll later put a fresh coat of yellow paint on the wall.
Knightdale employees were already in the process of preparing for a downtown event on Saturday. So most buildings marked by the vandals were sporting fresh coats of paint or were pressure washed on Friday.
"It makes me ill. It just breaks your heart to see things like this messed up," said Barbra Harrell, a member of Knightdale Baptist Church.
Crews used a pressure-washer to scrub the graffiti off the brick walls of the church.
Most of the graffiti included gang symbols and a six-pointed star.
"They just said the gang wanted to let people know they are still here in Knightdale," Carroll said.
"We made an arrest of a known gang member on Sept. 4, and it is quite possible the message is related to that arrest," Knightdale Police Lt. David Simmons said. "We call it gang activity, and activity like this we take seriously."
Knightdale adopted a curfew last year to stem what officials saw as a growing gang problem in town. Youths under 18 now can't be out between 9 p.m. and 7 a.m.
Police have no suspects in the case and are asking that anyone with information about the vandalism contact authorities.