Volunteer effort targets graffiti in Portsmouth — again

Railroad bridge entrance to Common Fence Point gets new coat of paint

By Jim McGaw
Posted 9/26/22

Two weeks after painting over graffiti that targeted a Democrat Town Committee fund-raiser, volunteers from Common Fence Point got out their paint brushes again Sunday to erase more illicit messages …

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Volunteer effort targets graffiti in Portsmouth — again

Railroad bridge entrance to Common Fence Point gets new coat of paint

Posted

PORTSMOUTH — Just two weeks after painting over graffiti that targeted a Democrat Town Committee fund-raiser, volunteers from Common Fence Point got out their paint brushes again Sunday to erase more illicit messages that have become a scourge in the neighborhood recently.

This time, Karyn Jimenez-Elliott, who’s lived in the neighborhood for nine years, led the efforts to repaint the Anthony Road railroad bridge that serves as the main vehicular entrance/exit to Common Fence Point. The bridge is one of the vandals’ favorite targets.

“It looks like a just murdered someone,” joked Jimenez-Elliott, her jeans splattered with bright red paint as she examined her work from under the bridge. She was at the site by 4:45 a.m. Sunday, toting a brush, a five-gallon bucket of paint, and plenty of determination.

“I’ve been in the neighborhood since 2013. I love this community and it’s been really disheartening to see this — the disrespect and entitlement that’s being showcased,” she said of the graffiti, which has also shown up inside the neighborhood and along utility poles on Anthony Road,

“This stuff is definitely being tagged by younger teens and (those in their) 20s, but then we have a second artist who is writing very politically motivated, hate, white supremacist stuff,” she said, referring to symbols that had been painted on the Sakonnet River Bridge underpass nearby.

Before she got to work, Jimenez-Elliott ran the idea past Conley Zani, president of the Common Fence Point Improvement Association (CFPIA), and then received permission from Eric Moffett, who owns the Newport Dinner Train which runs over the bridge.

“He was very grateful,” Zani said of Moffett’s reaction.

Detective Lt. John Cahoon provided a police detail at the scene starting around 7 a.m., closing the entrance way for a few hours and directing motorists to use the access road to the neighborhood further west. A man in a golf cart was also stationed on Anthony Road to direct motorists.

“It’s awful,” said Cahoon, who grew up in Common Fence Point. “I hate graffiti, I hate litter. I think Karyn coming out and doing this is fantastic. I wanted to come out and give her a little protection. It’s my old neighborhood, and I appreciate what they’re doing.”

Zani said the handful of volunteers who turned out Sunday turned a negative into a positive by showing their community spirit. Sally Smith brought doughnuts and coffee, which were handed out to motorists and passersby, and a couple of other neighbors came to pick up trash.

“A lot of people are coming by with the thumbs-up. Believe it or not, one guy booed,” she said. “This has been very inspiring and motivating to see the love as people come through and give the two thumbs-up.”

Despite her exhaustive efforts on Sunday, Jimenez-Elliott knows full well that the graffiti artists won’t be leaving the area alone any time soon.

“I know it’s going to be tagged again and it’s unfortunate, but I also feel we can’t let them win,” she said. “I have a five-gallon bucket of paint, and if I have to, I’ll buy another one.”

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