Fremont’s Graffiti Fighter Scours The Streets Despite Threats

FREMONT (KCBS) – You could say that the writing is on the wall for one Fremont man, who wants it taken down immediately. KCBS’ Mike Sugerman spent some time with that city’s guerilla graffiti fighter during his travels, About the Bay.

KCBS’ Mike Sugerman Reports:

Del Gundlach walks the streets of the Niles District in Fremont with a purpose – and with a bag of supplies.

“I missed this the other day,” he said upon noticing some graffiti. “I didn’t even see this.”

He promptly begins scrubbing.

Gundlach doesn’t miss much, which is exactly why there isn’t much tagging visible in the area.

The 64-year-old is a retired chemist, which proves helpful in this new endeavor.

“This is the carbon cleaner, don’t breathe this stuff,” he warned Sugerman.

Taggers, understandably, don’t like Gundlach. He says he’s even been threatened by some of them. Police have told him to keep a low profile.

“Maybe I should be concerned, but I’m not really concerned about the fourteen, sixteen, seventeen-year-old types that do this stuff.”

“I spent a couple of tours of duty in Vietnam in the Navy and I didn’t come back to this country to watch my neighborhood be destroyed and defaced by a bunch of sociopathic teenagers,” he explained his drive to clean up Fremont.

“We did a seminar, an evening seminar, about maybe a year-and-a-half ago I think, for the residents,” he added. “For them to be trained in how to recognize gang graffiti and separate it from what I call knucklehead graffiti.”

“So you stick with the knuckleheads?” Sugerman asked.

“Yeah, yeah. Oh, they keep me plenty busy. There are a lot more knuckleheads than there are gang members.”

“You know, doing all this under the radar,” marveled Niles Elementary School principal Jim Hough, among Gundlach’s admirers. “I mean he’s just doing it because he thinks it’s the right thing to do.”

“But with all the budget cutbacks and the furlough days it’s really great to have community members step up,” Hough added.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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