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Graffiti? Athens Don't Need No Stinkin' Graffiti! Crews Clean Up

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Cleaning crews removing slogans, tags and smudges from downtown Athens. (Photo by Eurokinissi)

ATHENS – In what is Greece's version of whack-a-mole, cleaning crews in the capital again removed graffiti and paint from the main Stadiou Street after a 20-day campaign that has seen tag artists put it back up again in places.

Work focused on removing slogans, tags and smudges that covered an area of about 3,300 square meters (35,521 square feet) along the popular shopping street that branches out of Syntagma Square, said Kathimerini.

To remove the paint from marble and stone surfaces, cleaning crews used 700 liters (185 gallons) of solvent and 48,000 liters (12,680 gallons) of water, using pressure washing equipment. Workers applied 220 liters (58.12 gallons) of anti-graffiti coating to keep vandals from applying their work again.

Cleaning crews worked during night hours to minimize disruption over the near three-week period during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a curfew in place from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m.

There was a similar effort in June, crews worked through the  central Patission Street and heading to the major shopping avenue of Athinas Street, home to fish, meat and spices market, leading from Omonia to the tourist hub of Monistiraki.

The drive, called Adopt your City, is designed to get rid of the tag-style graffiti on buildings, electricity pylons and shop shutters, as well as stripping off layers of decaying posters, though some of the more creative murals deemed art are to be preserved, said Kathimerini.

In most cases, spray paint can be removed with water, Deputy Mayor Nikos Avramidis told the paper, but acrylic paints are harder to remove with cleaning crews needing special hot-water pressure washers to clean surfaces before applying an anti-graffiti and hydrophobic coating that make new graffiti easier to remove.

The anti-graffiti campaign, one of the biggest in years, began in the capital’s historic center in May, during a lockdown aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19, when the streets were essentially empty of people.