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I received so many calls after my last graffiti article that I was prompted to write a follow-up. One call from an apartment owner really struck home because of its negative characteristics. In general, the caller was complaining that the Long Beach police didn’t care about the graffiti problem and didn’t cooperate with property owners. The caller did indicate that the city has a free paint-out program, but complained that the paint-out looked worse than the actual graffiti as it didn’t match this landlord’s building color or the others in the alley.
If there is anything that will make me see red, it’s the comment that graffiti painted out in the wrong color looks worse than the actual graffiti. I have heard that comment a few times over the last decade. Once in 1992 I was in charge of a Realtor “clean up day” and we had cleaned up approximately five miles of Foothill Boulevard in the La Crescenta/Sunland-Tujunga area. We were covering over some graffiti on a liquor store and a transient type person walked up and made the exact comment, “This looks worse than the actual graffiti.” My answer was, “I usually hear that comment from people like you who have their hands in their pockets. If you are unhappy with the color, why don’t you improve on it?”
My point is that the property owner would not be unhappy with the city’s free program if his apartment manager were instructed to paint out graffiti on that property with the correct color paint, every morning if necessary. My point is, don’t complain about what others are doing if you could do more yourself. The purpose of my previous column was to show how easy it is to paint over graffiti. It is a cinch for a property owner to have a gallon of the exact color mixed for future paint-over.
The real problem with the comment “the wrong color looks worse than the actual graffiti” is that it is just plain wrong. GRAFFITI BREEDS GRAFFITI. Painted out graffiti does not invite graffiti: graffiti invites graffiti.
There are basically two types of graffiti. One is graffiti identifying the local gang and, in fact, marking the gang’s territory. This is exactly the same way that a dog or wild animal marks its territory (similar upbringing). When gang members see some other gang’s mark, they cross that mark out and write the local gang name over it. When a dog or wild animal smells a different mark, it simply lifts its leg and urinates over it. Therefore the first type of graffiti is true gang territory identification graffiti.
The second type of graffiti is commonly called tagging. Tagging is done by a “crew,” which is a group of vandals who consider themselves budding artists. The crew itself has a name like PDB, D4L, TLK, etc. These names mean generally stupid things like TLK = Think Like Kriminals, or D4L = Down 4 Life. The individuals of this crew then mark their particular name under the crew name. In my area one would see TLK with the marking of MIST, EWOK, ENTER, ISN’T, etc. I am happy to report that ISN’T was arrested last week and ISN’T isn’t any more.
The purpose of this follow up is to assure that the only gratification that these taggers get is to see their markings all over town. I further assure you that immediate removal of that graffiti (in any color) removes the gratification. Therefore, if you paint out your graffiti (daily if necessary), eventually the vandalism to your building or block or area will stop or drastically decrease and the taggers will concentrate in other areas.
Now let’s talk about personal safety: Though graffiti vandals don’t appreciate erasure of their marks, they are generally not congregating in you area at 8-10 a.m. Once in a while someone is attacked painting out graffiti, and in most cases they were painting out the graffiti at night or interfering with the actual vandalism. From a safety point of view, the early morning hours are the beat time to paint out. Hopefully, enough said on this subject.
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