RUSSELLVILLE, Ark. — A sign put in place to stop graffiti in Russellville became graffiti within weeks of being put up.

The sign originally read “graffiti is a crime” but someone altered it to read “graffiti is art crime” instead. Local business owner Emily Young took a photo of the vandalized sign sharing it online.

It was a laugh mainly to her because it was funny and easily fixed, but the rest of what the sign is covering is neither of those things.

“I appreciate the art, but not necessarily that art,” Young said.

In downtown Russellville foot traffic is heavy and so is the history. That’s why some unwelcome art is causing quite a concern. Suzanne Alford had profanity on a building she owns before, and she is worried about what image it gives to visitors.

“I saw a family walking across here, and I was like oh, I’m going to take care of that really fast,” Alford said. “It needs to be family-friendly.”

She could paint over her building quickly but the older buildings downtown require special permission from the historic district commission. Pressure washing could destroy the exterior and if a building has never been painted before, it can’t be painted.

Young insisted, “There’s a way to go about it that’s more respectful and would look better.”

The vandalized sign is now clean, and there is a plan for how to take care of the worst graffiti, essentially finding the best paint match to cover it, and hope they find the “artist” who did this disregarding their ordinance.

“Somebody is trying to express themselves, but it is not…it doesn’t work with where they are trying to do it”, Young concluded.

According to Danielle Housenick, executive director of Main Street Russellville, authorities caught someone in the act of graffiti weeks before the sign was placed. It is hard to say if it is getting the message across that it’s a crime if people are vandalizing it too.