Graffiti is generally described as a drawing or inscription made on any exterior surface—from street signs to sidewalks—for the purpose of being seen by the public. The inscription can be rudimentary or elaborate, colorful or plain black. Gang members use graffiti to define territory and intimidate rivals. In an effort to keep the District clean and attractive, the DC Department of Public Works (DPW) deploys graffiti removal crews to clean graffiti from public space and private property, such as sidewalks, bridges and exterior walls. When power washing is impractical, our crews resort to more low-tech methods, such as simply painting over the graffiti. “Tags,” those spray-painted black squiggles sometimes found on traffic signs, fences or metal garage doors, are often removed with chemical-treated cleaning cloths. Owners of private property may request graffiti removal services from the city. Although the service is free, property owners must read and sign a graffiti removal waiver of liability form. Unfortunately, DPW can’t guarantee that the graffiti will be completely removed by chemical means. Additionally, since paint colors offered by the city are limited to four or five basic shades, homeowners may want to try painting out graffiti themselves. To request graffiti removal on private property and/or to get a waiver form, contact the Mayor’s Citywide Call Center at 311.