South Omaha Graffiti Cleanup

It's a problem that's plagued areas of Omaha for years. A group of college students is setting an example by taking control of their community, and cleaning up graffiti.

Leo Villanueva, a freshman at UNO, is covering the symbols that are weakening the streets of south Omaha. He, like some of the other group members, takes more pride in cleaning the tag marks because he grew up in this community.

"It's a lot more clean and it's good to come home every once in a while and see there's no graffiti there, so it's all good,” Villanueva explained. "I wouldn't want my brothers and sisters in an environment full of graffiti."

Four UNO Latino organizations broke into groups to work on graffiti abatement. It's the 5th year they've participated. They say it's not only for justice, but also for the rights of citizens to a beautiful city.

“We saw how it used to be back in the day when we were younger how graffiti was all over. It keeps getting better over the years so we just want to put in our part and make it look better for future generation,” said Gabriel Gutierrez, the President of the Latino Men of Impact – UNO.

It's a fight that Omaha City Councilman Garry Gernandt continues to take on. The graffiti survey of Omaha showed that of the 2,500 documented areas about 1,700 of them are in south Omaha. He says that when groups of people help out themselves, the city is able to take on the bigger projects

"It certainly restores my faith in young people,” Gernandt described. "Hopefully a positive message is being sent to the community that we still have people that care. Young people, old people, very young people getting out and taking care of their community."

Gernandt says that the graffiti consultant recently had a return visit, and was happy with the progress he saw. They plan on getting the two graffiti vans on the road next week as long as there's good weather.

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