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.

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