DPS combats proliferation of graffiti at vacant schools

Police arrest trespassers at Hutchins Intermediate School.

Dozens of vacant Detroit schools are riddled with graffiti, driving down adjacent property values and making it difficult for the cash-strapped school district to find new buyers for the buildings.

The proliferation of vandalism over the past six months has left the interiors and exteriors of the schools coated in paint.

On Sunday evening, Detroit Public Schools police found three trespassers at Hutchins Intermediate School on the city’s north side near Virginia Park.

“One of the individuals was caught spray-painting graffiti in the building,” said Steve Wasko, assistant superintendent for community relations.

Graffit bust copy

Like most graffiti vandals, the suspects are from the suburbs. They are a 26-year-old Mt. Clemens man, a 21-year-old Clinton Township man and an 18-year-old Taylor woman. Their names have not yet been released.

The graffiti suspect was cited for malicious mischief. All three were cited for trespassing. They face up to 90 days in jail and up to a $500 fine.

Exclusive: Meet some of Detroit’s most destructive graffiti vandals

DPS has been quick to respond to complaints of scrapping and graffiti because both are big red flags for potential buyers.

Hutchins Intermediate School opened in 1922 at 8820 Woodrow Wilson, just two blocks from the origin of the 1967 riot. Declining enrollment forced the school to close in 2011.

“Scrappers found their way into the building in the summer of 2013, and within a few months had stripped it clean of most of its metal,” wrote detroiturbex.com.

Hutchins Intermediate School
Hutchins Intermediate School

Other stories about graffiti:

DNR ranger under investigation for vandalizing Detroit with graffiti
No shame! Graffiti vandals hit historic churches in Detroit at disturbing rate
Detroit mulls graffiti task force as vandalism gets out of control 


Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

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