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| Crime |

Just In Time For the Super Bowl, Dallas Is Making One Last Push to Wipe Away Graffiti

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As quiet as Dealey Plaza's been since the truth-bearing publishers were cleared out, you could forgive a few tourists for being concerned this morning to find the place crawling with cops. Surrounded by Dallas police, some in Gang Unit windbreakers, one officer was able to reassure an elderly woman that the park and the knoll are totally safe -- the crowd was just here to watch the paint getting peeled.

This morning's ceremony, Delia Jasso presiding, was the official kickoff for a one-month graffiti abatement blitz in anticipation of a certain football game scheduled in Arlington early next year and the impressionable multitudes it'll bring with it. As Robert mentioned on Monday, the centerpiece of today's big show was The SodaBlaster, which looks an awful lot like a hose and smells nothing like Dublin Dr Pepper.

To demonstrate the blaster's might, folks with Dallas-based Stripco cleared off a patch of tagging on the railroad overpass -- graffiti, gray cover-up paint and all. The blast of pressurized air and baking soda blew a dust cloud into the air around us that wasn't nearly as satisfying as ingesting paint chips.

Before the big show, Jasso introduced a handful of other guests with corporate friends who'd offered to contribute to the cleanup -- among them, Sherwin Williams, which donated 100 gallons of anti-graffiti coating, and CPS Security/Ecam Secure, which is donating two mobile solar-powered surveillance camera rigs for the month of January.

DPD Assistant Chief Tom Lawrence took the mic for a quick study in art criticism, with some words for "all these graffiti taggers who believe they're artists ... It's not art. It's vandalism."

Graffiti Not-Czar John Barr spoke very briefly, reminding the crowd that the fight against graffiti isn't something the city can do alone. Jasso took a conciliatory tone, urging some sort of understanding with the vandals. "We love art," Jasso said. "We can take our taggers and certainly give them some alternatives."

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