Olympia, WA: Downtown Businesses Hit with Anti-Police Graffiti

The Olympia Police Department is investigating a string of anti-police graffiti painted onto downtown businesses Thursday night.

Lt. Paul Lower said that graffiti isn’t uncommon in the city, and for the past several years anti-police messages have been prevalent. But this graffiti is different: The lettering is large, and more than 10 businesses were hit in one night.

“We got about 10 official reports, and as officers followed the trail, they saw more and more,” Lower said. “Right now, they’re looking for businesses that might have surveillance cameras to see if we can get a picture of the suspect.”

One of the businesses hit was Rainy Day Records, at 301 Fifth Ave. SE. That message reads, “Police = Murderers.” Lower said some of the graffiti features the acronym ACAB, which means, “all cops are bastards.”

“We’ve been seeing that acronym pop up in the last year,” Lower said. “It’s been written in a lot of places in west Olympia.”

For now, the Police Department isn’t taking the anti-police messages as threats — they’re more concerned about the burden that painting over the graffiti will have on small businesses, Lower said.

“We don’t get our hackles up too much,” Lower said. “It’s graffiti. What really bothers us is that they’re picking on our small business owners. These aren’t small letters. It’s large graffiti, and that takes a lot of work to fix.”

By early afternoon Friday, most of the spray paint had been painted over by the Olympia Downtown Ambassadors. Program manager Rob Richards said a five-person crew walked around the city with buckets of paint, offering to help the business owners.

“It looks a lot nicer when it’s covered up,” Richards said. “We’re here to give business owners some peace of mind.”

The Downtown Ambassadors offers the graffiti patching service year-round, Richards said. Business owners who are interested can purchase paint matching their walls and give it to the group. Those interested in learning more about the program can call 360-570-3900.

“We like to use matching paint when possible,” Richards said. “The only thing that looks worse than graffiti is a big square of the wrong paint.”

Lower said that people who have concerns with law enforcement shouldn’t trouble businesses owners — they should discuss their concerns with police. And those who feel the need to voice their opinions through graffiti should take advantage of the Free Wall on the side of Capitol Theater.

“We’re not saying you shouldn’t voice your opinions, but there are other ways to do it,” Lower said. “You’ve got the Free Wall where people can go do that without problem. Most of the people who use the Free Wall are great.”