Woman’s response to graffiti leads to vandalism citation
By Brent Curtis
Staff Writer | July 23,2014
Anthony Edwards / Staff Photo
A large graffiti tag stating, "Rutland Hates Drug Dealers," is seen running down the sidewalk along Library Avenue on Monday.
Victoria Reaser’s decision to fight graffiti with graffiti has landed the Rutland woman a date in criminal court for defacing public property.
But the Library Avenue resident said Tuesday she has no regrets about the multicolored “Rutland Hates Drug Dealers” graffiti spray-painted on the sidewalk outside her home.
“Every time I see it I smile,” she said of the graffiti that led city police to issue her a citation for a misdemeanor count of unlawful mischief.
The residential street is one of several crisscrossing avenues in the northwest area that has been targeted by city police for drug patrols and Reaser said she believes that four houses on the short street are home to drug dealers, including a nearby residence she said she has complained about to police.
But she said she didn’t think about making a statement with spray paint until she walked out of her home last week and found the words “Drug Dealers” spray-painted in yellow paint on the sidewalk with an arrow pointing at her house.
Reaser, who shares her home with her husband and two children, said no drugs have been sold from her home and she suspects that one of the actual drug dealers on the street painted the letters as retaliation for similar graffiti painted in front of a house that she believes drugs are being sold from.
Rather than paint over the letters — something another resident on the street did with the consent of city police last year — Reaser said she decided to take a stand.
“It’s who I am. I’m a fighter,” she said.
On the same day she discovered the graffiti outside her front door, Reaser spray-painted the words “Rutland Hates” in red and blue in front of the offending words.
Now, she said, the slight against her has been transformed into a slogan that dealers and addicts see every time they drive the street.
“I think if you don’t do something or say something, you’re an accomplice,” she said. “I’m saying something, and I think they can read it in red, white and blue.”
City Police Sgt. Matthew Prouty said Reaser was charged because she was caught in the act of defacing city property which he said will cost the city about an hour’s worth of work for two public works employees to scour.
Prouty said there had been other cases in the Library Avenue area involving homes being labeled for drug dealing. He said the resident who spray-painted over the graffiti outside her home last year wasn’t charged because she was covering up the words, not adding to the vandalism.
“It’s not the act of spray-painting over the words. (Reaser) took it on herself to add to it,” he said.
Reaser faces up to six months in jail and a $500 fine, if convicted of the charge against her.
But Reaser said she will fight the charge in court and expected to bring plenty of support into the courtroom.
“I’m planning on having a ton of friends there,” she said.