Graffiti artists arrested near downtown St. Louis

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ST. LOUIS (KPLR) – FOX 2 had exclusive video Tuesday of four arrests in what has become a "plague" of graffiti in St. Louis.

One trending graffiti tag right now is "free the herb", a reference to legalizing marijuana.

Police believe they've just arrested a group of those at least partly responsible.  Even people who support legalizing marijuana in Missouri, are glad to hear about the arrests.

St. Louis Police arrested 4 white male suspects ages 19 to 26 on suspicion of property damage near the Soulard neighborhood at 7th and Park in South St. Louis around 4:45 Tuesday morning.

The Soulard area has been deluged with graffiti recently.

Police say officers on patrol actually saw the suspects painting in the area and the suspects had paint with them when arrested.  Police say the same suspects are behind graffiti near I-70 and the Stan Musial Veterans Memorial Bridge.

Two cars near the bridge were coated with graffiti.

One of the bridge’s main support towers was also painted.

If it’s not moving, it seems, someone’s going to paint it.

“So it’s like vandalism now,” said Deon Howell, of St. Louis.  “That’s too much.  That’s definitely too much…I’d be mad if you did that to my car…I’d be really upset.”

People don’t seem to mind as much when it looks somewhat artistic but scraggles on the new bridge hardly seems like art.

The not-for-profit organization, Brightside St. Louis, spends $300,000-a-year in federal grant money just on cleaning up graffiti, more than 350,000 square feet cleaned up at more than 3900 sites in the city last year.

“You know it looks neat when it’s professionally done.  When it’s gang graffiti they’re just tagging it thinking it’s their territory.  It’s not their territory.  This is St. Louis.  It’s our territory,” said Nate Hensley who lives near the spot where the suspects were arrested.

This is a serious offense.  Police are seeking felony charges of property damage, first degree.

It's believed the four suspects are from out of town but police have yet to confirm that or release their names.