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Bellerose residents wipe out graffiti

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Residents of Bellerose have had enough and are taking matters into their own hands.

The community joined forces with the 105th Police Precinct, the 105th Precinct Law Explorers, the North Bellerose Civic Association, and community activist and City Council candidate Bernice Siegal to clean graffiti off neighborhood walls.

The groups came together Aug. 19 to repaint the walls on Union Turnpike between 248th Street and 266th Street in Bellerose that have been covered with graffiti.

"The graffiti busters wiped the walls clean from 248th Street and Union Turnpike to 266th Street," Siegal said as she looked over the last wall to be cleaned on 266th Street.

As the legal counsel to City Councilman Sheldon Leffler (D-Bellerose), Siegal has worked on legislation which now makes it a crime to sell the necessary tools for graffiti to minors.

"These laws matched by zero tolerance for graffiti in our neighborhoods are essential for us to win the war against graffiti," she said. "With the attention of our police, cooperation of the building owners and merchants and the vigilance of our community, we can put an end to this scourge."

Police officer Paul Zoccolillo, who has been working with Siegal to fight the graffiti problem in Bellerose, said the precinct is constantly on the lookout for graffiti artists and have been working to stop the problem all along Union Turnpike for some time.

"We are serious about prosecuting these criminals to the fullest extent of the law," he said.

Siegal said that without the help of the 105th Precinct and the vigilance of officer Zoccolillo, "our neighborhood would remain a mere tablet for graffiti vandals."

Zoccolillo was able to enlist the help of Shirley Kirkland, the youth officer at the 105th Precinct, and her group, the 105th Precinct Law Explorers, to remove what many have called a blight on their community.

The Law Explorers is a group of teens who spend time with the 105th Precinct to learn about the law as they document and participate in service projects for their school.

"The Law Explorers program is a fine example of the Police Department working with our community for a better future for all of us," Siegal said.

Lucy DeFranceschi said she was satisfied with the day's work, but it is a never-ending battle that the community must wage to stop graffiti on Union Turnpike.

"We aim to keep our walls free from this hideous mess," she said.

The Explorers will meet every Wednesday at 6 p.m. at the 105th Precinct starting Sept. 6 at the 105th Precinct at 92-08 222nd St. in Queens Village. For more information call Youth Officer Sally Kirkland at 776-9164.

For more information on how to start a community pain-over in the 23rd Council District, call Bernice Siegal at 347-3883.

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