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SANTA ANA : Anti-Graffiti Drive Gains Visibility

An ad campaign that seeks to unite residents in fighting graffiti has plastered its rallying cry on a billboard over a prominent Santa Ana street corner.

The sign at Gunther and First streets, one of 20 soon to be posted, bears the words, “Stop graffiti--and take back your city.” It also bears the logo of Santa Ana, with the motto “Education First.”

Robert Acosta, who started the billboard campaign, said, “The idea is to eliminate the negative image the city has and show people they can do things to change it by getting involved in their community.”

Acosta was a community relations officer with the Santa Ana Police Department during the 1970s and is now a public relations consultant.

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It was Acosta who persuaded the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Co. to bring its airship Eagle over Santa Ana in August to display anti-crime messages. The blimp will be floating back over central and southern Santa Ana with similar messages on Dec. 8 and 9, he said.

No city or Police Department money was used for the campaign, Acosta said. Billboards were donated by Patrick Outdoor Media, and other funds were raised from corporate sponsors and three street carnivals.

In addition, several radio stations have begun carrying short ads that urge people to get involved in Neighborhood Watch groups and community-oriented policing to fight graffiti and crime, Acosta said. Similar spots are to appear soon on cable television.

“I hope when people see the sign it makes them think,” Acosta said. “If they see a building with graffiti, they’re going to get mad and get involved in their local community. I hope the ads also make them have a sense of pride in their community.”

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