When South Side Park and the surrounding neighborhoods were hit by racist and gang graffiti on Oct. 30, the only up-side was the reaction: Police got on the case, victims and city workers quickly cleaned it up and the 15 or so acts were roundly condemned.
Most of the Belleville folks got the graffiti off before any permanent damage, but there was still a needless cost associated with it. Nationwide, graffiti costs us $12 billion each year.
Perhaps its greatest cost is what it represents: Graffiti is a public billboard stating that an area is lawless and the hooligans have the upper hand. No one wants to buy a house or do business in an area that is marked up as thug territory.
So the taggers, usually males between 15 and 23, get their thrills and feel like somebody. And the rest of us scrub to erase their moment of power or rebellion or hate.
About that hate: It is upsetting and sad that the graffiti was so vile and racist. Cowards wear white hoods to burn their crosses, and they skulk in the night with their spray-paint cans.
Belleville Police await your call if you know who was responsible.