Vandals spray-painted a racial slur, sexually explicit symbols and other offensive messages on the walls of the 13th Street Alley in downtown Astoria.
The alley, which merchants hope to one day permanently decorate with murals and lighting, was one of several places scarred with graffiti. Employees also discovered scrawls of green paint on City Hall, the Elks Lodge and the Astoria Library on Wednesday morning.
The alley was the hardest hit, however. Public works staff covered the most explicit damage and volunteers organized by the Astoria Downtown Historic District Association plan to paint over the rest of the graffiti Thursday.
“Because this one was big and ugly and of course (because of) our upcoming project in the alley, we wanted to lend a hand,” said Sarah Lu Heath, executive director of the downtown association.
Typically, property owners are responsible for dealing with graffiti, but the city responded because of the images and words used, said Jeff Harrington, the public works director.
Rosie Samp, who owns Erickson Floral Co. with her husband, said their service door, which opens into the alley, had an obscene image painted on it when she arrived at work Wednesday morning.
“I’m glad they covered it up as quickly as they did,” she said.
The racial slur was the N-word. Samp said she saw a family of color walk down the alley, not long after city staff painted over the slur. “I wouldn’t have felt very welcome if I were them and I saw that,” she said.