COOS BAY — The man responsible for tagging The World Newspaper has come forward.
The World is not pressing charges.
“Over the past several weeks, the Coos Bay Police Department has seen an increase in graffiti and criminal mischief calls,” read a department press release. “The graffiti has been found on various buildings, fences, sidewalks and business signs.”
On Wednesday morning, the department was notified of new graffiti that appeared between 6:30 p.m. and 8 a.m.
“The new graffiti was found at The World newspaper business located on Commercial Ave. in the downtown area of Coos Bay,” the release said. “The graffiti covered the front sidewalk and was also on (its) business sign.”
The graffiti made “several offensive comments regarding The World newspaper, as well as city staff and city officials,” the release said.
According to the newspaper’s publisher, Ben Kenfield, the tagging also covered the front stairs, while window chalk was used to write on the front door and windows around the building. Most of the tagging was done in sidewalk chalk.
“It reflects the frustration in this community,” Kenfield said as he scrubbed graffiti off The World’s sign. “We have a microcosm of what’s happening in the country here in Coos Bay.
“I think sometimes it’s hard to tell where to point the frustration and turn it into change.”
Members of Safer as One — a grassroots organization standing for equality and a safer community — showed up to help scrub the chalk graffiti off The World’s stairs. “These are words of pain and people trying to speak out but not going about it in the most official way,” said one member, who asked to remain anonymous for her safety.
“As someone who is trying to represent and speak with the many sub-communities, I wanted to make sure we are here to help.”
She asked that people who wish to get messages out that include Black Lives Matter or #Justice4Saraya, a 14-year-old Black teen who was sentenced to juvenile prison for 11 years, to reach out to Safer as One. That way, the message can be put out “in a way that all the sub-communities can be equally representing and be heard.”
The Safer as One member said the organization is not associated with the graffiti, which included accusations of “fake news” and “stop black media censorship.”
The tagging follows stories published by The World about a demonstration from Safer as One, efforts to put in a statue memorializing Alonzo Tucker — the victim of the only documented case of a Black man being lynched in Oregon — and Black Lives Matter protests.
Coos Bay Deputy Chief Chris Chapanar told The World that he isn’t sure the tagging is connected to other cases seen throughout the city.
He added that the city is looking to update its graffiti ordinance, which requires the property owner to have the tagging removed.
“We’re in the process of revisiting that ordinance, which is like a lot of ordinances — outdated and in need of a revision of some sort,” he said.
The City of Coos Bay provided The World with a graffiti cleanup kit to help remove the graffiti.
“I’m certainly not angry,” Kenfield said. “It’s a sign of the times, I suppose … It was graffiti intended to send a message, not cause damage.”
The second instance of graffiti, at Sunset Middle School in Coos Bay’s Empire District, “showed a painted peace sign and referenced ‘All Lives Matter,’” according to the police department’s press release.
“Officers responded to the area and photographed the graffiti. At this time, no suspect(s) responsible for this act has been identified.”
Anyone with information about the ongoing crimes has been asked to call the department at 541-269-8911 or Coos Stop Crime at 541-267-6666.
“This isn’t something we want to tolerate in our community,” Chapanar said. “We don’t want offensive language defacing people’s property.
“It isn’t a good thing for our community.”