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West Ashley couple responds to graffiti attack

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March 31, 2017
By Bill Davis | News Editor

This is not an infomercial. Ben and Erika Greco are not paid actors, and they have not been compensated for their testimony.

They are just a nice young couple, happy they could get the obscene graffiti message washed off the wall and driveway of their home in the East Oak Forest neighborhood.

“We tried nine different products before we found one that would work,” said Ben, a data scientist at a local security firm. “My dad said not to sandblast them because then we’d just have a big whited-out version of the obscene messages.

Two Fridays ago, someone took offense to a “I’m With Her” Hillary Clinton placard they had placed in a window of their home facing the street a year ago, and spray painted something terrible on the bricks next to it.

And on their driveway. The words don’t belong in a family-friendly community newspaper. A slew of similar messages had been appearing all over West Ashley, hitting a neighbor’s home, the municipal W.L. Stephens Aquatic Center, and even the Cynthia L. Hurd Memorial Library, named in honor of one of the victims of the ‘Mother’ Emmanuel AME Church slayings.

The next day, Ben and Erika, wanting to cover the graffiti and turn the incident into something good, hung an American flag over the message. Erika, confident the culprit would return, stayed up all night that night.

Whoever it was made it past her vigil and spray-painted another horrible message on the American flag the following night.

Ben and Erika’s “vision” of who had sprayed their home changed, as they doubted super-patriot types would’ve desecrated the flag.

Erika, who works for a local software company, rattled off the nine products they tried before hitting on the “magical” one:

“Paint stripper … acetone … Goof Off Graffiti Remover … some generic graffiti remover … oven cleaner …”

Wait a minute. Oven cleaner?

“Yeah, a friend of ours who has a car repair body shop said the stuff is magic on cars that have been painted on,” said Ben.

Erika continued, “… and carburetor cleaner … and something called ‘World’s Best Graffiti Remover.’ It was on the TV show ‘Shark Tank.’”

“But that was for ‘sensitive’ surfaces and didn’t work at all,” said Ben. “None of it worked, so then we went to the PPG store on Rivers Avenue in North Charleston and the manager cut us a deal on a gallon of another ‘World’s Best Graffiti Remover’ product, but for bare brick, stone and masonry.”

Seeing the couple was in a tough spot and noting they’d spent a lot of money already, the manager knocked nearly $25 bucks off the expensive elixir.

How did that work?

“It was like magic,” said Ben, who “flood-coated” the brick three times, with Erika scrubbing each time between sessions. The stuff was so effective, they’ve still got a half-gallon left over.

Erika’s only complaint? “It was that Sunday where it was 40-degrees outside. It was yuck.”

Today their brick ranch sparkles like … well, it’s brick, so it just looks like it did before the graffiti bomber hit it. The driveway is back to normal, too. And the pro-Hillary sign remains in the window.

Erika is perplexed as to why the police have yet to link her incident to the aforementioned ones that took place across West Ashley. Last week, police arrested a man who lives in their same neighborhood on charges of tagging many of the other sites.

According to a press release from the Charleston Police Department, the man was alleged to have spray-painted messages that were a mixture of racist, violent, and sexist. They did not include the Greco’s house on the list of charges.

Today, everything is back to normal. The sun shines. Neighbors wave on their afternoon walk. But Ben and Erika worry that the 19-year-old man arrested was the same person who hit their house and will return.

Erika said they’ve enhanced their security system. But she hopes she won’t ever have to use it again.

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