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DIVINE TRASH

Any passerby in an urban cityscape has observed the colorful, or provocative, illegal “eyesore” that is graffiti. Although many consider the spray-painted pieces a nuisance, graffiti has been gaining recognition from the art world more and more as a legitimate art form. When most people think of graffiti they imagine “tags,” or a stylized writing of a person’s name. While tags are probably the most popular forms, graffiti art is much more than that. It can mean a colorful mural with a message of diversity or a black and white stencil piece protesting police brutalitIn each case,


CREATE AND DESTROY

There are a number of tools available to tackle the problem of graffiti. The Government has introduced a ban on the sale of spray paints to under 16’s to tackle the source of the problem by taking away the means to graffiti. Planting shrubs and other vegetation to make vulnerable areas inaccessible Use materials (for example trellising) and surfaces that make graffiti vandalism difficult. Apply a clear coat finish to protect painted and unpainted surfaces and use protective film coverings on windows Report graffiti for removal as soon

as it is seen. If you see anyone committing vandalism, report it to us at the, police, school authorities, or someone who can take action. Remember, vandalism is a crime Using pastel shades for communal areas rather than white, magnolia or traditional colours reduces graffiti attacks. Control access Include shrubs, robust plants, and vines to restrict vandals access Add or improve lighting around the building to promote natural surveillance Use fences, controlled entrances and exits, rails, and other barriers that discourage through traffic

Limit access to roofs by moving Euro bins away from walls and covering drain pipes to prevent vandals from scaling them. Legal walls are largely ineffective as a deterrent or graffiti prevention device. Over a dozen cities in California, Illinois, Connecticut, and other states have tried “legal� walls and all found them to be ineffective. Legal walls send a mixed message, sponsoring graffiti in an effort to rid a community of graffiti. Community records indicate they may work at first, but after a period of time, the surrounding areas also


An act of expression or vandalism?


Because of its rising prevalence in many areas — and the high costs typically associated with cleanup and prevention — graffiti is often viewed as a persistent, if not an intractable, problem. Few graffiti offenders are apprehended, and some change their methods and locations in response to possible apprehension and cleanups. As with most forms of vandalism, graffiti is not routinely reported to police. Many people think that graffiti is not a police or “real crime” problem, or that the police can do little about it. Because graffiti is not routinely reported to police or other agencies, its true scope is unknown. But graffiti has become a major co Concern, and the mass media, including movies and websites glamorizing or promoting graffiti as an acceptable form of urban street art, have contributed to its spread. Although graffiti is a common problem, its intensity varies substantially from place to place. While a single incident of graffiti does not seem serious, graffiti has a serious cumulative effect; its initial appearance in a location appears to attract more graffiti. Local graffiti patterns appear to emerge over time, thus graffiti takes distinctive forms, is found in different locations, and may be associated with varying motives of graffiti offenders. These varying attributes offer iportant clues to the control and prevention of graffiti. For many people, graffiti’s presence suggests the government’s failure to protect citizens and control lawbreakers. There are

huge public costs associated with graffiti: an estimated $12 billion a year is spent cleaning up graffiti in the United States. Graffiti contributes to lost revenue associated with reduced ridership on transit systems, reduced retail sales and declines in property value. In addition, graffiti generates the perception of blight and heightens fear of gang activity. Graffiti typically is placed on public property, or private property adjacent to public space. It is commonly found in transportation systems — on inner and outer sides of trains, subways and buses, and in transit stations and shelters. It is also commonly found on vehicles; walls facing streets; street, freeway and traffic signs; statues and monuments; and bridges. In addition, it appears on vending machines, park benches, utility poles, utility boxes, billboards, trees, streets, sidewalks, parking garages, schools, business and residence walls, garages, fences, and sheds. In short, graffiti appears almost any place open to public view. Historically, much conventional graffiti has represented a youthful “rite of passage” — part of a phase of experimental behavior. Such graffiti is usually spontaneous and not malicious in nature; indeed, spontaneous graffiti has often been characterized as play, adventure or exuberance. Spontaneous graffiti may reflect local traditions and appear on “fair targets” such as abandoned buildings or schools. Communities have often tolerated such graffiti.Their motives for some types of conventional graffiti may in-


Vandals putting obstructions hanging thata the about Because is Local graffiti patterns appearintofront of trains, estimated $12 billion yearpolice is can do onlittle inner and it. outer sidesgraffiti of trains, concrete blocks from bridges and throwing stones are not routinely reported to police or other agencies, its emerge over time, thus graffiti spent cleaning up graffiti in the subways and buses, and in transit sadly occurrences. crimes canUnited lead toStates. seriousGraffiti truecontributes scope is unknown. But graffiti has become a major takesdaily distinctive forms,These is found stations and shelters. It is also injury or death and can and evenmay derail concern,with and rethe mass media, including andwalls in different locations, be trains. toTrespass lost revenue associated commonly found onmovies vehicles; often leads towith other offences; it is difficultduced to commit glamorizingfacing or promoting graffitifreeway as an ac-and associated varying motives ridership onwebsites transit systems, streets; street, vandalism to obstruct trains without trespassing. form of street art, statues have contributed of graffiti or offenders. These varying reduced retail salesceptable and declines in urban traffic signs; and monu-to Route crimeoffer costsimportant the rail industry pervalue. year In addition, its spread.graffiti Although ments; graffiti and is a common problem, itsit attributes clues £150million property bridges. In addition, and causes 486 days worth of delays. passengers intensity place to place. While to the control and prevention of It costs generates the perception ofvaries blightsubstantially appears from on vending machines, park too. If trespassers are seen on railway lines, can mean fearaofsingle does not seem graffiti graffiti. andit heightens gangincident activity. of graffiti benches, utility poles,serious, utility boxes, trains are held, current switched off and staff diverted has a serious cumulative effect; its initial appearance in a For many people, graffiti’s presence billboards, trees, streets, sidewalks, from their the duties. A police orfailure “real crime”Graffiti problem, or is placed suggests government’s typically public to attract parking garages, schools, business locationonappears more graffiti. to protect citizens and control property, or private property adjaand residence walls, garages, fenclawbreakers. There are huge public cent to public space. It is commonly es, and sheds. Because of its rising costs associated with graffiti: an found in transportation systems — prevalence in many areas — and

“Art should comfort th the comfortab

The more social disorder and graffiti in a neighborhood, the louder the message is sent that “nobody cares.” This sets off a vicious cycle that encourages further crime in affected neighborhoods. Most vandals are young people, from grade school age to young adults, who damage property for reasons of boredom, anger or revenge. Others vandalize to show defiance toward rules, laws and authority or to draw attention to a “cause.” Graffiti is often the first sign that gangs are taking over a neighborhood. Gangs use graffiti as their street “telegraph,” sending messages about turf and advertising their exploits.


he disturbed and disturb ble.” ― Banksy

Campaign signs for Dr. Sudhanshu Prasad, a town councilman running for mayor, were defaced with racist graffiti over the weekend, his campaign said. “We strongly denounce these deplorable acts,” Prasad and his running mates on the town council slate said in a statement released Monday. “These are cowardly acts of bigotry which have no place in the Township of Edison, nor are they representative of the beliefs and hearts of the good citizens of Edison.” With red spray-paint, the vandal or vandals wrote, “Never in Edison!” on one side of the sign on Cherry Street, and on the other side wrote.


The Minneapolis Council is proud of its “Graffiti Gone” strategy, which allows vandals who play Hide-nSeek to beat the rap! That explains why it refuses to let police identify unseen graffiti vandals in court. Certainty of punishment is its own deterrent. The only solution to the graffiti menace is to decriminalize some graffiti acts. That will enable a trained investigator, who is a step or two above

the street cop, to identify the unseen graffiti vandal in an informal hearing.The Office of City Attorney has for decades insisted that the U.S. Constitution hinders government efforts to make graffiti vandals account for bad behavior.

Problem is, the U.S. Supreme Court disavowed excuses in 1979 A basic principle of Constitutional law guarantees to government the power to maintain order. The Minnesota Supreme Court concurred in 1993.

That explains why City staff tracked 11,500 graffiti crimes during 2008, yet the Office of City Attorney prosecuted only 50. Yes, roughly 4/10 of 1% !!!

The Mayor insists that imposing consequences on graffiti vandals is a “tough issue”. Rather than solve the problem, City Hall is advised to use scarce taxpayer dollars to


The City tracked 12,531 graffiti crimes in 2009, an increase over 2008. The City Attorney charged only 43 as a crime, a decrease from 2008. All others went unpunished. City staff were instructed to harass landowners and force them to incur $6.9 million to clean up the mess quickly. Quick abatement gives citizens the illusion of free money. Unfortunately, the price of free always increas-

es. Like weeds, both the neighborhoods and the landowners must endure the same do-do, year after year. A tax-free solution does exist. It offers a police investigator a tool when there is no eye-witness. A simple change in the law would allow a peace officer to qualify as an expert to offer testimony that identifies who is responsible for the graffiti. Keep in mind that a street

cop would not qualify. The expert must be a higher-up who is “authorized to approve the charge”. The “charge” would be a non-criminal citation, which is similar to a parking ticket. that explains why it refuses to let police identify unseen graffiti vandals in court. Certainty of punishment is its own deterrent. The only solution to the graffiti menace is to decriminalize some graffiti acts. That will enable


Because of its rising prevalence in many areas — and the high costs typically associated with cleanup and prevention — graffiti is often viewed as a persistent, if not an intractable, problem. Few graffiti offenders are apprehended, and some change their methods and locations in response to possible apprehension and cleanups. As with most forms of vandalism, graffiti is not routinely reported to police. Many people think that graffiti is not a police or “real crime” problem, or that the police can do little about it. Because graffiti is not routinely reported to police or other agencies, its true scope is unknown. But graffiti has become a major concern, and the mass media, including movies and websites glamorizing or promoting graffiti as an acceptable form of urban street art, have contributed to its spread. Although graffiti is a common problem, its intensity varies substantially from place to place. While a single incident of graffiti does not seem serious, graffiti has a serious cumu-

lative effect; its initial appearance in a location appears to attract more graffiti. Local graffiti patterns appear to emerge over time, thus graffiti takes distinctive forms, is found in different locations, and may be associated with varying motives of graffiti offenders. These varying attributes offer important clues to the control and prevention of graffiti. For many people, graffiti’s presence suggests the government’s failure to protect citizens and control lawbreakers. There are huge public costs associated with graffiti: an estimated $12 billion a year is spent cleaning up graffiti in the United States. Graffiti contributes to lost revenue associated with reduced ridership on transit systems, reduced retail sales and declines in property value. In addition, graffiti generates the perception of blight and heightens fear of gang activity. Historically, much conventional graffiti has represented a youthful “rite of passage” — part of a phase of experimental behavior. Such graffiti is usually spontaneous



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