"A rival for membership, a rival for, 'I'm in this gang and it's better than this gang,'" said Vance County Schools Superintendent Norm Shearin. "Some of the gangs that are here are actually tied to larger gangs from other places."
Shearin helped write Henderson's aggressive approach to fighting graffiti.
"If we have to paint over it 10 times, that's still what we have to do so we can stop it," he said.
The city of Henderson's crackdown on graffiti comes at a time when it's showing up almost everywhere, even on public highways. Who ends up paying for the cleanup? It's business owners, and they're not happy about it.
"Right now, economically we as small business people we cannot afford another bill, and in fact when someone graffiti's on property we own, we are then a victim," said business owner Deryl Von Williams. "Victims should be compensated, not penalized."
Von Williams owns a small downtown shop.
"It is in all our best interests that the city looks as nice as possible, but it should not be to our detriment," he said.
"What we are trying to do is reduce the amount of damage in Henderson to property by removing it so it is not seen," said Shearin.
The city is ready to offer a reward to catch anyone who spreads graffiti. Leaders will also fine property owners who fail to follow the city's order to clean it up.
Starting July 1, the city of Raleigh will expand its graffiti removal program to include private property. The city is still considering charging property owners for the clean-up.
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