Graffiti Is Everybody’s Business

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By PETER ROSENTHAL, President
V.I.P. Trust Deed Company

If you have been a resident of Glendale for the past ten years you may have noticed that the graffiti situation has improved REMARKABLY. The real improvement has come in the last 2-4 years, with the active involvement of Glendale’s Neighborhood Services, the active involvement of one or two local graffiti removal groups and, more importantly, the involvement of the Glendale Police Department in their COPPS program (Community Police Partnership).

I am the founder of one of the local removal groups and I can attest to the fact that the Glendale Police Department “had better things to do” in the early 1990’s. In the last few years, however, the COPPS program has been instrumental in working with groups like ours and actually making several arrests. The arrests send a chilling factor throughout the rest of the local “artists” and, as a result, the results are finally evident, especially along the 134, 2 and 210 Freeways in our local areas.

Before addressing the “how to get rid of it” issue, let’s see what graffiti actually is. There are basically three types of graffiti, with racial or hate graffiti being, fortunately, infrequent in our community. Gang graffiti is prevalent in south Glendale and the areas west to Griffith Park. This graffiti is no different from your dog “marking his territory.” The gang mentality is exactly the same. They mark their territory and another gang comes along and marks over it. The analogy couldn’t be more accurate. On the 2 and the 210 Freeways plus the Montrose, La Crescenta and La Canada areas, the typical graffiti is “taggers.” These are groups of individuals with a group name like TLK (THINKING LIKE KRIMINALS) or D4L (DOWN 4 LIFE). These groups then have individual members, i.e. D4L–JERK.

The only benefit taggers or gangs receive from the illegal act of vandalism is the satisfaction of seeing their gang name or their tagger name “up.” Obviously, if this is done on a 10’ X 50’ surface on a freeway wall, tens of thousands of people see it every day.

This is the satisfaction: having their name in YOUR FACE for weeks, months or years until “somebody” finally does something about it. There is no benefit to any of the three types of graffiti vandals if the graffiti is removed IMMEDIATELY and reported to the police. The police and local groups have the ability to monitor local gangs or taggers and, believe it or not, arrests are really made. Though some of these “jerks” get only a slap on the wrist, other arrests lead to the discovery of other crimes such as stolen credit cards and mail, possession of drugs, etc.

Any graffiti in our area seriously detracts from real estate values and, in fact, the quality of life. Most of us bemoan graffiti and state, “Something should be done about this.” Unfortunately, we live in a society today where we can’t look to local government to solve ALL of our problems. The community needs to pitch in and help local authorities with INDIVIDUALS willing to join neighborhood watches, anti-graffiti groups or just bring problems to the attention of the proper authorities. If your neighbor has graffiti on the wall, ask them (politely) to cover it over (as soon as possible), or call Glendale Neighborhood Services or a handyman or graffiti group to help them remove it. If the neighbor is recalcitrant or unwilling, simply report this to Neighborhood Services.

Getting rid of graffiti is extremely simple and not messy. Most of our group carry little “graffiti kits” in their trunk. When they see graffiti in their assigned area or follow up on a report, they merely use this kit, IN BUSINESS ATTIRE, to remove the graffiti. The kit consists of a small, rectangular Rubbermaid type icebox container (1-2 quart size), a few styrofoam paint pads, plus a roll of paper towels and a couple of Baggies. The container is filled with gray water based paint. Our people also carry a small container (1 pint size) of lacquer thinner. If they see graffiti on a slick surface like a street sign, tile or glass, they merely wipe off the graffiti using lacquer thinner and paper towels. If, for instance, there is graffiti on the curb, they open up the spill-proof paint container, dip the pad in the paint, cover over the offending graffiti, close the Rubbermaid “paint container,” put the paint pad in a Baggie and go on about their business. When they get to their house or to their work, they merely wash out the paint pad, which is good for 10-15 uses. A few of our “heavy duty” volunteers carry several colors of paint, including off white and light tan. In any event, it is easy.

We now live in a society that needs “volunteerism” and it can be very rewarding. Joining a neighborhood watch or community service involves very little time. If the time really is not available, just reporting vandalism and even defective traffic signals helps the rest of our community.

If you belong to a condominium homeowners association, neighborhood watch or some other similar group and would like to have a no-cost presentation on the subject, please call Volunteers in Pride at the number below.

Since this article is specifically about graffiti, please report graffiti in the city of Glendale to Neighborhood Services at (818)548-3700. Please report graffiti on the 134, 2 and 210 Freeways to Volunteers in Pride (V.I.P.) at (818)248-0000. If graffiti is on private property, try to contact the property owner and ask that it be removed; otherwise, report it to Neighborhood Services.

Peter Rosenthal
VIP Trust Deed Company