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Graffiti Mob Targeting San Francisco Mission District Businesses

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) -- Frustrated San Francisco Mission District business owners and residents are fed up with repeated vandalism destroying their neighborhood.

Video shows what might look like the line to get into a night club, but it's actually a mob of people at an organized spray paint party, according to witnesses. More than 100 people showed up to tag the block, including a vacant building, a parklet and several storefronts.

At one point, a fight breaks out. It all happened Friday night on 18th Street near Mission Street.

"It's really unfortunate, we have so many small businesses that are struggling to recover," said President of the San Francisco Small Business Commission Sharky Laguana. "They've had one punch after another with the pandemic, a second wave and a third wave. And on top of that they have to deal with what I think is clearly an uptick in vandalism and graffiti."

Laguana is also a small business owner in the Mission. Businesses say they receive notices of violation from the city.

"When you have businesses like this one that are getting tagged every week with large amounts of graffiti, it doesn't seem fair or right to then say you now have to spend the money cleaning it up, or we are going to fine you," he said. "That to me seems just fundamentally wrong."

Laguana said though the city waived payment for businesses during the pandemic, the Board of Supervisors is discussing the possibility of bringing back fines.

Small businesses told KPIX 5 off-camera they have to routinely spend time and money painting over the graffiti - only to have vandals return days later.

"It's heartbreaking, I raised my son here," said a longtime resident whose son is now 30 years old.

She preferred to stay anonymous, but said she has seen the problem worsen since a store opened up on the block last year.

Several people in the community told KPIX 5 that the shop not only allegedly sells spray paint and art supplies to the vandals, but they said it promotes such gatherings.

A woman identified herself as that shop owner did not want to go on camera Sunday night, but she told KPIX 5 that Friday's event did get out-of-hand and stemmed from an "art show" it hosted. The owner said that she helped clean up the mess.

"They're saying that they weren't guilty, yet if you see the video from this morning this whole wall across the street on 18th was painted. They painted over it," said the resident, referencing the store. "They cleaned it up, because we were talking to your cameraman earlier."

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