How Not To Fight Graffiti

Filed in National by on April 6, 2012

Rep. Ed Osienski (D-24th) and Sen. Dave Sokola (D-8th) have introduced legislation that would add a suspension of driver’s license to the punishments already given out for graffiti. I wonder if this is the correct approach. Over the last few years, the Delaware legislature has strengthened punishments for those caught tagging or with graffiti supplies, but this hasn’t worked. In a quick Google search of programs that fight potential graffiti artists in Delaware, I’ve come up empty. So my question is this: Does the State of Delaware have active and successful programs that fight graffiti? If so, how can we educate more kids? If we don’t have viable programs, shouldn’t we? There are plenty of programs throughout the United States that do successfully fight graffiti.


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Comments (20)

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  1. Jason330 says:

    It is unrealistic to expect legislators to look outside of Delaware for best practices. They are far too lazy for that. Also, best practices cost money.

  2. nemski says:

    Damn, Jason330, you’ve just crushed my post with Delaware Way logic. You are wise in the ways of the inept.

  3. liberalgeek says:

    Well, we already punish underage drinking with drivers license punishments. I doubt that is much of a deterrent.

    Delaware has a pretty good anti-graffiti law-enforcement program (I’m friends with one of the cops that used to specialize in that). Of course it is too late by the time it gets to there.

    In your Google search, did you find any that had been effective at reducing the crime that you think should be applied here? I would also hesitate to call them artists, as most of what I’ve seen is simple tagging, hardly worthy of the title ‘art’.

  4. Geezer says:

    AS someone who loves graffiti, I can only hope that all these “solutions” fail.

  5. nemski says:

    @ Geezer, I miss the “NERD HUMOR” graffiti on the railroad bridge across Rt 141 in Greenville.

  6. Geezer says:

    Yeah, you can blame Bob Weiner and his do-gooder team for eliminating that one. But that’s not high-quality graffiti anyway. There’s some good new stuff along I-95 in Chester, which recently overpainted the older stuff. I was glad to see it took only a few weeks to get repainted, mainly with some really nice-looking, large-scale tags.

  7. Geezer says:

    “most of what I’ve seen is simple tagging, hardly worthy of the title ‘art’.”

    Where do you expect them to hone their skills?

  8. nemski says:

    @ liberalgeek – My wife and son did a Rap bus tour of New York and one of the places they went to was 5 Pointz, a place that allows graffiti artists to “perform”. I also know that Newark is looking at building some skate parks, why not add some places where kids can tag?

  9. Mike O. says:

    In the distant past I was co-leader of a preservation group restoring a historic park in NYC. Graffiti was an issue. I like graffiti art too but I don’t want to see it on historic structures, or especially on natural features like rock.

    The only thing that works against graffiti is to clean it or paint over it the next morning. It takes multiple repaintings before it starts working. But it works reliably even if you don’t catch the guy.

  10. kavips says:

    Most graffiti artists, do not have drivers licenses. They do not have cars. That is why they are graffiti artists, because they CAN”T do what other normal kids do, so the create their own excitement.

    It is human nature to leave some signatories of ones past behind. That is the driving force behind our careers; that when we leave, lasting works of ours keep our memories alive. That is why commentators put such effort at the end of every blog post; leaving a little of themselves behind.

    The problem with graffiti is it is not seen as ugly by it’s perpetrators. They consider it art. They see a blank railroad car as ugly, and with a quick twist of the wrist, it becomes something worthy to look at…

    Loss of a drivers license will not deter this practice. However I offer something that could…

    Make the person guilty of graffiti-ing a stretch of street, responsible for keeping that stretch of street clean and free of graffiti. Use jail time as the enforcer… Translated, you are in charge of this street. If there is any graffiti not cleaned up in 24 hours, we haul your ass off to jail…

    If doing crack and spraying a wall sends Jimmy off to jail, someone in your party will probably talk you out of it. …

    Problem solved.

  11. PainesMe says:

    @nemski – Agreed. There seems to be a real dearth of public art in DE…

  12. Mike O. says:

    Historic architecture is also art, but in Delaware we have torn down much of it. Let’s install modern sculptures and such, but they don’t make up for the loss of our historic mills and mansions.

  13. Dave says:

    I have no complaints about taggers er..artists performing and display. I frequent many art displays. I see play on Broadway. I like scultpures (Hirshorn in DC for instance). Art is part of what makes us human.

    What I have complaints with is that most taggers er…artists have no concern for their choice or canvas. If gravestones were large enough they would practice their “art” on that canvas.

    I am supportive of the arts. I have no objection to supporting some mechanism where the “artists” can have a showing of their art but I also would like some respect and consideration shown by the “artists”

    And let’s be clear that a great deal of the art has been and remains a way to mark one’s turf (a message to other “artists” to keep out). So, we should not generalize everything into art or graffiti but recognize that some of what we see art and a great deal of it is not.

  14. Will McVay says:

    I agree this isn’t the way to handle this. Taggers probably don’t have licenses and/or wouldn’t care if they were going to be or even were suspended. I like the idea of more areas in the community that encourage graffiti, but that wouldn’t do much to curb gang activity which is probably responsible for at least some of it. That definitely requires a more creative solution than license suspension.

  15. Dave says:

    I think what it demonstrates is a level of frustration that there are no easy solutions, so they try this and that hoping to luck their way into something that works. Maybe they should teach root cause analysis at the legislative level.

  16. AQuestion says:

    Am I really reading a lot of you as essentially saying, kids do it, it’s natural?????? I guarantee you that graffiti is not art when it’s done to YOUR property.

    As to the alleged insight that many who do graffiti don’t have licenses, that may be true, but I don’t know that anyone is suggesting this is a magic bullet, rather, just another tool in the toolbox. And maybe it will deter at least some who do have a license. Given the location of some graffiti in the Pike Creek area, I have to suspect that kids aren’t walking to those locations.

    Moreover, maybe the sentence/punishment should also include mandatory community service for cleaning up graffiti, although I have to believe that is already part of the package.

    Graffiti hurts property values and encourages further disrespect for the law. It IS a crime.

  17. anon says:

    I very much disagree with punishments like this that have little to do with the crime. Suspend a driver’s license for drunk driving? Sure. Repeat inattentive driving? Yup. Graffiti? Huh?

    Preventing a young person from driving for a reason that has nothing to do with their ability to be safe behind the wheel is ludicrous. More worrisome is that preventing merely mischievous kids from driving may also prevent them opportunities to get a job, drive themselves to school or take art lessons – all which would require a car. Or a better public transit system.

    So, instead of taking away a kids ability to drive, public service seems like a much more justified punishment. Or perhaps mandatory art lessons. Some of these kids obviously have the desire to be creative – why not guide them to do it on canvas instead of on bridges?

  18. Dave says:

    I would agree to public service and art lessons, but there are two other things at play here which trouble me. If you call the non-gang tagging art (and I agree much of it is art) it would seem to me that it is narcissistic as well as demonstrating no consideration for private or public property. Maybe it’s more than that but it is at least that.

    Now maybe narcissism is not a bad thing if it is channeled into acceptable frameworks (like renting your own billboard and creating your art on that canvas), but somehow we need to get them to comprehend that the need to express themselves does not constitute license to do what they want with no constraints.

  19. Liberal Elite says:

    @kavips “They consider it art.”

    Mandatory art classes. If they’re going to do it, make ’em do it well.

  20. Miscreant says:

    “Does the State of Delaware have active and successful programs that fight graffiti? If so, how can we educate more kids? If we don’t have viable programs, shouldn’t we?”

    Art, or vandalism? I guess it can depend on where, and on what, the tagging takes place, and how talented the tagger is. When in Los Angeles last year, I noticed graffiti is morphing into viable form of advertising art. Many businesses are employing taggers to design logos, and paint them on entire exterior walls. I took several pictures.

    Some of the most interesting I’ve seen in Delaware is on the train cars along Burton Lane in Dover. Of course, I would suspect much of it took place in another state. Another interesting but different, type of display was on the miles and miles of train cars coming out of Mexico, along the Salton Sea in southern California. Many of those tags are used to mark the location of the smuggled weed, so they’re not quite as refined.

    “Mandatory art classes. If they’re going to do it, make ‘em do it well.”

    Exactly. Separate the artists from the vandals, and sentence them to art school. Sentence the vandals to cleaning up their shit.

    Who decides?
    I’d be glad to do that.