Artwork is welcome at the Lawrence Arts Center, but not this kind.
Police say a teenager was caught early Wednesday morning spray-painting graffiti onto a brick wall on the rear of the Arts Center, 940 N.H. Another suspect got away.
Steve Richardson, the arts center's maintenance director, is not willing to write it off as a form of healthy self-expression.
"If there was a place for them to do decent graffiti, sure, that would be cool, but that's not the place," he said. "We just got through with the Art Tougeau parade, and that was a very constructive way of being creative. What they did, it takes a whole heck of a lot of time to straighten out."
Police were on routine patrol about 12:30 a.m. Wednesday when they spotted two people in the alley behind the arts center and saw them start walking away quickly. An officer caught up with one of the suspects, later identified as a 17-year-old boy from Lawrence, but the other got away. The officer found spray-paint cans on the ground behind the building and fresh paint on the wall, said Lawrence Police Department spokeswoman Kim Murphree.
Police contacted the boy's mother, released him and told him that Douglas County District Court would be contacting him about possible charges.
More about the incident
Taking care of downtown graffiti has become a higher priority for police this spring. Instead of waiting for residents to report it, officers have been going through alleys documenting it and notifying property owners.
Owners are required by city code to clean up graffiti within two weeks of being notified by police. If they don't want to pay for it, they can call 832-5354 to arrange for the county's community-service coordinator to bring a work crew to the scene.