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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    Smiling ‘whale’ graffiti brings frowns to UA police

    Andrew Davis from facilities management cleans the graffiti that filled the UA campus yesterday
    Andrew Davis from facilities management cleans the graffiti that filled the UA campus yesterday

    Police are investigating what is described as a “”smiley whale”” symbol that was spray-painted throughout campus and are asking the community to come forward with any information on the meaning of the symbol.

    “”(The meaning) is something known only to the person who painted it,”” said Sgt. Eugene Mejia, University of Arizona Police Department spokesman. “”It appears to be a depiction of a whale with a face on it.””

    The “”whale”” is painted in red, silver and black paint and has a smiley face on it with eyebrows.

    Police believe the vandalism occurred during the “”dark hours”” late Monday night or early Tuesday morning. As of yesterday, nearly 20 incidents had been reported, though the actual number may be much higher.

    The “”whale”” symbol was found in multiple locations, including the Center for Creative Photography, Manzanita-Mohave Residence Hall, the Harvill building, the Speech and Hearing Sciences building and Sun Tran bus stops.

    It is still unknown whether or not the symbol is somehow gang-related, but Mejia said police are going to find out what the “”whale”” means.

    “”We will work with local experts to see if this is a symbol we should be aware of,”” said Mejia. “”It’s not obvious if it symbolizes gang activity.””

    Along with causing a little confusion, the “”whale”” has created a tremendous amount of clean-up work for the maintenance crew and even acquired the nickname “”Finding Nemo”” by the crew members.

    “”It’s caused a lot of headaches for us around campus,”” said Christopher Kopach, associate director of Facilities Management. “”It’s vandalism.””

    Employees have been painting over the graffiti as well as using pressure wash and soda wash to get the paint off brick without leaving an imprint of the “”whale.””

    While most graffiti is removed “”as quickly as possible,”” usually within 24 hours, Kopach said the sheer number of incidents is going to make this cleanup take a little longer, which frustrates him.

    “”We could be concentrating on other things,”” said Kopach. “”We try to make campus a nice place, and they disregarded that.””

    Along with tagging on university buildings, the “”whale”” symbol was also found on the outside of multiple fraternity and sorority homes, although it doesn’t seem to be related to Greek Life.

    Jon Burckle, president of Kappa Sigma, said he was surprised to find the symbol spray painted directly on the front of the house.

    “”I was very surprised to find that certain houses got hit and others didn’t,”” said Burckle.

    Although some fraternities and sororities seemed to be spared from the graffiti, Burckle doesn’t feel that Greek Life was targeted by the vandal.

    “”It sounds like it was just some weird guy walking around campus at 5 in the morning,”” Burckle said.

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