No time table set for Colorado Capitol building cleanup

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DENVER (KDVR) – The Colorado State Capitol building is still covered in graffiti, and doors and windows are still boarded up six weeks after the protests and riots started in downtown Denver.

The State Department of Personnel and Administration oversees maintenance of the buildings. It said all nine buildings in the Capitol Complex have extensive damage. And it said it is an ongoing problem, so they cannot say when the repair work will begin.

“It’s unfortunate some people have chosen a destructive way to share their message on such a fine and important piece of Colorado history,” said Doug Platt, communication manager for the department. “We always refer to the Capitol as ‘the people’s house.’ It’s a place we try to resolve our differences and have constructive debate, so it’s unfortunate when folks come by. We would certainly like them to engage in the conversation without being destructive, without vandalizing the building.”

But not everyone is bothered by the graffiti left behind. Emma Kertesz brought her daycare class of 3-year-olds to the Capitol.

“We frame it, this is art work, and so we came down to see the artwork on the Capitol building, and talked about what Black Lives Matters mean and who we can do our part as citizens of this community,” she said.

Other visitors disagree. Shahbaz Khan visited from Maryland.

“It doesn’t look nice, should not been done. Yes, express yourself, but do not write on or mess up government or public properties. If you mess up this type of thing, it doesn’t look nice. Doesn’t give a good impression of people who living in this city,” he said.

State officials say it will be repaired and restored, but it’s a complicated process.

Platt said, “We have historic restoration contractors and architects who specialize in working on buildings of this age and importance. We are coordinating with vendors, our insurance, coordinating our staff and our resources to try to get this resolved as quickly as possible, but as you can imagine, with the extent of the damage, it’s a complicated issue. And it’s a moving target. If we have vendors coming out and giving bids on a certain amount of work or certain amount of materials, and things get damaged overnight or the next day, it’s kind of a moving target.”

The Capitol building is more than 120 years old, which also complicates the project.

“Most of the panes of glass were original, so we’re talking 120-year-old glass panes that have been shattered,” Platt said.

And it’s not as easy as power washing the spray paint off the walls.

“This is actually native Colorado granite. It’s fairly porous, so when something like spray paint is put on there, it starts to leach into the stone, so you can’t just simply power wash that off. You have to get chemicals to get in and also don’t leave a lasting residue or change the nature of the stone once the cleaning is finished,” Platt said.

Denver police say only one person has been arrested for vandalism since May 27. The Colorado State Patrol says their top priority is protecting the people who work at the Capitol, but they do say they have surveillance cameras all around the Capitol and they are monitored 24/7.

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