Abused Salem-Keizer sign covered in graffiti

“XV3” and “18st” spray painted onto the metal Salem-Keizer “Working Together” sign

The Salem-Keizer “Working Together” sign located on the intersection of River Road and Stark Street N. has been vandalized with what appears to be gang-associated graffiti similar to what has been found in Keizer parks. 

The graffiti on the sign shows an “XV3” as well as “18 St.” both apparent signifiers for the Los Angeles-based 18th street gang, one of the largest transnational gangs in the U.S. and rival to MS-13, another criminal street gang. 

Keizertimes initially reported this issue as the signage, including the brick structure it is upon, appeared to be severely damaged, an issue that still has not been repaired.

After the story was released, a wealth of comments appeared acknowledging how this particular sign has been the target of errant drivers for years, with one commenter remarking how they have seen this same sign and brick structure hit and destroyed since they were a child. 

While the graffiti on the sign is new, it is not around Keizer, appearing in parks such as Bob Newton Park and Keizer Rapids Park as well as in other more hidden areas such as houses within the Gubser neighborhood as well as near the Labish Ditch area in the walkway and bridge area. 

After the initial story, Keizertimes reached out to Salem Public Works though no response was given as to whom the structure belongs to. 

At the May 6 Keizer city council meeting, Keizer Public Works director Bill Lawyer responded to a query from Councilor Dan Kohler about who is responsible for the area, noting that, to the best of his knowledge, repair and responsibility falls to Salem. 

Kohler referred to the signage and structure as a “drunk catcher,” a term, Lawyer noted, that began under a previous Public Works director Rob Kissler, almost 25 years ago. 

He gave a brief history that involved the two cities working together to create the sign and structure with Salem in the lead on the project. 

When the project was finished the grounds maintenance was placed upon the company Northwest Natural, Salem was in charge of the bricks, while Keizer was, and still is, responsible for powering the lights.   

Lawyer went on noting that after some time the gas company stopped being in charge of the area as it went entirely to the city of Salem. 

After placing a call to Salem Public Works and speaking to the dispatch office, Keizertimes learned that indeed Salem Public works had been tasked with repairing the signage and structure in the past, though did not give a definite yes or no as to who should be repairing the structure, only that Salem has done it in the past.  

Salem Public Works spokesperson Trevor Smith described how, according to their records, the sign has sustained damage at least once every year since October 2021. 

He noted that the department is seeking ways to prevent further damage to the structure. 

Currently, a request for service has been placed at the Salem Public Works department, Service Request No. 7566919 made by the Keizertimes, though there is no timeline on when those repairs would be completed. 

More graffiti on the Keizer side of the structure denoting “XV3” and “18 st,” both signifiers for the 18th Street gang

Contact Quinn Stoddard
[email protected] or 503-390-1051

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