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article imageOp-Ed: Why Are Graffiti Reports on the Rise Across the U.S?

By M Dee Dubroff     May 13, 2009 in Lifestyle
Why are some cities across the U.S. reporting as much as double the complaints about defaced property? Is there more graffiti or is it all one very colorful eye-sore illusion? Read on and cast your vote, but in primary colors only please.
According to news sources, officials in some of the nation’s larger and smaller cities such as Los Angeles, Denver, Chicago and Asheville, North Carolina, have reported increases in graffiti cleanups in the past year or so. It isn’t true everywhere but accounts are disturbing as well as conflicting.
In the words of Connie Kunzler, of Keep America Beautiful, a coalition of groups supporting community beautification efforts:
Cities aren't necessarily seeing a lot more graffiti, but police, politicians and the public are paying more attention to it. These sort of low-level, quality-of-life crimes are the things they see every day and that awareness can often get the public to call in when they see graffiti.
Are they seeing more graffiti or just noticing more? That seems to be the irritating question looming over this…er… colorful topic. Kunzler has also stated that while some of the graffiti comes from gangs, as much as 85% of it is the result of what is known as "tagging." This is a way for the hip-hop “street artist” to leave a signature, so to speak.
A graffiti  tag  in Los Angeles
A typical graffiti spot in L.A.
Photo by amayzun
The statistics are certainly screaming something. Denver received more than 29,000 complaints about defaced property, which is a figure that is up 98% from last year and Chicago experienced a rise of 10% from the year before. Jonathan Powell, a spokesman for Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa of Los Angeles, claims that the Public Works Department removed graffiti from more than 31 million square feet of surfaces in the last years, reflecting an increase of 48% in the last three years. In Asheville, North Carolina, calls relating to graffiti have increased an estimated 20%-30% .
Restaurant owner, Anthony Cerrato, told the press:
It's starting to look like Mad Max in certain sections of town. Graffiti covers the back door and the back of the building.
Oddly, some cities have experienced a decrease in the incidence of graffiti, notably New York where complaints fell about 9% from the year before. It may have to do with technology catching up to things as according once again to Ms. Kunzler, some cities are installing cameras in hot spots that send alerts and a GPS location to the police. She also stated that police departments scour websites where culprits brag about their handiwork.
I am all for individualism and the right to self-expression, but not at the expense of someone else’s property.
Why is graffiti increasing in certain cities? The answer may be anyone’s guess.
What’s yours?
This opinion article was written by an independent writer. The opinions and views expressed herein are those of the author and are not necessarily intended to reflect those of
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