Inappropriate images, gangs, racial slurs spray painted across small town

TAMPICO, Illinois -- In a town with a population of 800, Tampico residents said they woke up Sunday morning to dozens of obscenities spray painted across town.

"I think it honestly was just a bunch of young kids," said resident Aleesa Johns. She said she is a little concerned that no one has been caught. "Everyone was probably sleeping but I mean they hit the entire town."

Village officials have denied multiple requests for comment. According to the Village Clerk, Kathy Leathers, the situation is an ongoing investigation and no information is being given out at this time.

Resident Gerry Frank said vandalism rarely happens in town, but said he believes it was kids acting out of boredom.

"I don’t know if they’re expressing themselves or what they’re doing but they’re definitely making a point," Frank said. "They seem to be attacking schools and businesses, you know? They don’t have any respect!"

Gang-related content, inappropriate images, and racial slurs now cover several residential homes and local parks. The town's only school, Tampico Elementary, was targeted as well. Johns said she has seen images circulating social media and saw that storage units and construction equipment was tagged too.

As a mother of a bi-racial child, Aleesa Johns got emotional thinking about what this means for her four-year-old daughter.

"Obviously she can’t read it but I mean we’re a town that doesn’t have any colored or mixed people and she’s one of them," Johns said. "I don’t want her to have to see that. And obviously she’s not old enough now, but, it’s just inappropriate."

Johns said she, too, believes harmless teens were responsible for the graffiti. However, she said most kids do not understand the true meaning behind their actions.

"If (my daughter) was old enough to ask me what that word meant I would have to explain that to her. And I shouldn’t have to," Johns said.

Tampico officials have not confirmed how many buildings were tagged, nor given an estimation on total costs in damages.

"They’re going to have to take probably a couple of weekends just to even get down here and get that covered up," Johns said.

"They’re strapped all the time for money so I don’t know where the money will come from to clean it up," Frank said.

This story will be updated with the latest information. 

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