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Monday, July 18, 2011

Portland arresting more out-of-towners for graffiti

The city's chief graffiti battler is quoted in the New York Times today:

In Portland, officials said taggers from other communities were defacing their property. "We’re arresting more people from out of town," said Marcia Dennis, the city’s graffiti abatement coordinator. "For every one we get cleaned up, something else takes its place. For every two we arrest, three people take their place."

The Times wrings its hands wondering why tagging is on the rise, but in large part it's because mainstream media like the Times don't condemn it. They're more likely to show photos of some of it, thus adding to its glorification as an art form.

Tagging isn't art. It's mental illness.

Comments (17)

Sorry, but graffiti is an ACTUAL quality of life issue. Portland only addresses IMAGINARY quality of life issues.

Revisited my old hood recently, where graffiti on businesses and like has long been a problem. This time I saw it on residents' property: fences and retaining walls.

It ain't "tagging". It's vandalism.

Ban the needless sale of spray paint. Problem solved. Next?

"Needless" -- that's a good one. And a lot of it is done without using spray paint.

BTW, where are the media reports of these arrests?

I love to bash the local pols in my neck of the woods, but they get this one totally right. Graffitti is removed same day top priority, day after day if needed, deemed worthwhile as a gang control and public safety strategy. The gangsta's can go strut their stuff elsewhere and that's what they do -- leave.

Agreed. If you leave it up, you get more -- a lot more. It may take a lot of persistence, but a prompt removal strategy is the best. They do eventually move on.

The vandalism that I notice, seems to happen on Thursday night.

Link to article explaining that the Brooklyn Museum has cancelled its graffiti art show. Our financial, aesthetic, and moral betters have a difficult time understanding why the taxed resist this stuff. It seems to have gotten plaudits in L.A.

Oh, the suppression of free speech for the marginalized. The horror, the horror.


No problem, Randy Leonard can just extend his spray-paint lockup to include ALL paints, and to be safe, markers, crayons, fabric dyes, and food coloring as well.

Jack asked, "BTW, where are the media reports of these arrests?"

The reporters are in their offices waiting for the next press release (report) to arrive from a government flack who is likely an ex-coworker.

by "out of town" they probably mean the taggers are from gresham, tigard or hillsboro. i don't believe these people are traveling great distances to "express themselves".

The City's graffiti bureau is an absolute joke. Try reporting something and see how long it takes to get it cleaned up. Supposedly the owner is contacted and told to clean it up, but there aren't any real consequences or follow through so the graffiti stays up for years. Rather than Randy's failed attempt to lock up spray paint, they should really put some teeth behind getting property owners to clean up graffiti on their property. Responsible property owners already do -- it's the absentee property owners that leave it, thereby encouraging other idiots to continue vandalizing our community. Real penalties like jail time and restitution would be a great start as well.

Cities need to adopt technology for fighting quality of life crimes like graffiti. Graffiti is such a bigger crime than people realize.

I don't care if a tagger paints the Sistine Chapel, vandalism is vandalism.

City Sourced, which is an app and web based geo-tagging program, could aid in prosecution. Basically you take a picture of graffiti with location enabled on your smart phone and upload the picture and your pic's exif data with latitude and longitude is tagged on a map for future reference.


I'm also a punitive guy and I think cities need to do bait walls in graffiti prone areas with cameras.

Doc Golightly -

I'm not normally a big defender of City agencies on this blog, but my experiences with Marsha Dennis and her crew are 180 degrees off from your expereiences. They are out fast and clean stuff up really fast and very well. Are you sure the problem you are seeing is the ONI grafitti f enforcement folks, or the city attorney's office which seems to be afraid of a courtroom?

In one place, about 2 blocks from my house, there is a half block long 20 foot high concrete wall that is city property, which gets vandalized regularly. Most recently Sunday AM early 10 July.

Noticed it about 3 PM that afternoon, July 10. Took pictures, E mailed in the forms and pictures, and a crew was out Wednesday morning cleaned it all off.

Prior to the 10th, that same place was hit last Saturday in June.

Marsha Dennis and the ONI crew walk on water IMHO.

Clowns like Qwest are really reluctant to clean up their property. PGE is a bit better.

I lived in Albuquerque NM for a short time. While there they passed a law making parents responsible for all damages (including tagging) their kids did, then actually enforced it. They specifically went after the parents of taggers and you know what? The amount of tagging decreased drastically.

Guess when you start hitting parents in the wallet they start paying attention to what little Johnny is doing.


The problem, I believe, is that there are not any real penalties for requiring property owners to clean up graffiti on their own property. If it is reported, they might get a letter from the city telling them to clean it up, but I have graffiti in my neighborhood that I personally have reported over a year ago that is still up. It is not currently addressed as a code violation issue, but is handled much differently. I believe that it should be treated as a code violation with similar fines and liens for non-compliance.

In terms of your specific situation -- you mentioned that it is city property -- that's the key issue. Yes, they might be quick to clean off graffiti on their own property, but they are currently powerless to make irresponsible property owners clean up their own graffiti. Also, the fact that they were able to clean up graffiti so quickly in your example makes me think they're sitting on their hands a lot waiting for the next City of Portland property to be tagged. If they really were busy cleaning up graffiti around the city, it would probably take longer to address individual problems.


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