Mar 17, 2021 - News
"Stoker" graffiti around Des Moines likely the work of a tagger
Tags saying "death" and "stoker!" on the East University Avenue bridge. Photo: Linh Ta/Axios

A reader reached out to Axios after noticing the word "stoker" was getting spray painted around the Des Moines metro.

  • He first noticed it in West Des Moines. And then we noticed it along the trail by the Botanical Garden downtown.

The reader's question: What's up with the graffiti? Is it gang-related?

West Des Moines Sgt. Jason Heintz said the graffiti is likely from a "tagger" — a person or a group who is recognizable by a word or symbol.

  • In 2016, Heintz investigated tags that resulted in thousands of dollars in damages around West Des Moines.
  • He later learned it was two Waukee High School students who were spray-painting crowns on public surfaces. Both were arrested, but he said one girl was "immensely" talented in her artwork.

The bottom line: Taggers have no threatening intentions behind their marks. It's just real-world clout chasing, Des Moines Sgt. Paul Parizek told Axios.

Still unanswered: Who's Stoker?

If you have a Des Moines-linked question you'd like answered, email [email protected].

This story first appeared in the Axios Des Moines newsletter, designed to help readers get smarter, faster on the most consequential news unfolding in their own backyard.


Get more local stories in your inbox with Axios Des Moines.

More Des Moines stories

No stories could be found

Des Moinespostcard

Get a free daily digest of the most important news in your backyard with Axios Des Moines.