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.

  • Sizz

    Does Detroit have any black cops?

  • A.L. Cadillac

    Love it. Now all we need is the names of these punks so we can gather a posse to go to Clinton Twp, Mt. Clemens, and Taylor to tag their neighborhoods and houses. Of course, in Taylor’s case it might be an improvement…

    Has anyone else besides Steve noticed the explosion of crappy looking destructive tagging all over the city? Just seems to have had a huge uptick in the last 6 months.

  • Marian Pyszko

    Again, the people that live near these buildings allow this to happen. Law abiding people will not allow their surroundings to go this way. You cannot rely solely on the police/government to keep the peace. It is up to every law abiding person to make sure peace and order is in their neighborhoods. Stand up good people, get your CPL and make those citizens arrest where you see felonies taking place.

    • bebow

      No, Marian, you don’t understand. We can’t rely on the DPD/government at all. If we were to arrest felons, the DPD would not respond to collect them. What then? Jump claim on abandoned properties and use them as jail cells? What do you suggest we do about the drug/prostitution house the DPD won’t handle? Before responding you should know a multitude of unpoliced neighborhood criminals are in and out of there all day long. Should we run up in there with guns blazing and fix those deviants? Hmmm? What do you suppose would happen next? The solution to our problem is the demolition of every tax delinquent rental shack along with the stripped, abandoned ones. IT’S MAY, MARIAN. THE SNOW IS GONE. WE DON’T HEAR BULLDOZERS, JUST HELICOPTERS BUZZING OVERHEAD LIKE WE’RE IN VIETNAM. SHOULD WE DO OUR OWN DEMOLITION, TOO?

      • Marian Pyszko

        Yes, do what you must. DPD is not the only policing authority in Detroit. State Police would be more than happy to take these thugs off your hands. The Feds would be happy to take some too. If need be, convert one of those buildings into a holding cell until law enforcement arrives. Standing idle while your neighborhoods burn is no plan. The people have the laws to protect themselves. When you are ready to organize and take back your neighborhood let me know. Together the people of Michigan can cleanse this mess. Let’s set a time a place for a Detroit open carry march. Time to bring the fight to the thugs on our terms!