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[Graffiti is not art. Graffiti is a crime.] back to an anti-graffiti web page

The Anti-Graffiti FAQ

Graffiti: Terrorism in the larval stage.
There is nothing artistic about vandalism.
The difference between graffiti and art is permission.

What you might like to know about graffiti, that you won't
find on the web pages of graffiti advocates. Learn why graffiti is wrong.
This FAQ is based on my research, and reading on the subject
of graffiti as well as the contributions of interested
readers of this page.

The Graffiti FAQ Table of Contents

This is an evolving document. Please feel free to contribute to it by writing [email protected] I acknowledge this document is getting large and probably bothers third generation web authors. The intent of this page is to provide easily readable content. You will also find graffiti related discussion and articles at the DougWeb blog. Please take the time to visit and even join the NoGraf Network. The Anti-Graffiti FAQ is in the process of a minor update for 2008. I know the FAQ is making an impact because there are still a few hate sites directed at the FAQ and DougWeb. Fascinating! Contrary to A. Thiel the Anti-Graffiti Web Page has not gone away.

Questions? Comments? Stories of your own? Visit the DougWeb BBS Forums and share.

 Tag-A-Long Trailers

What about experimental graffiti abatement programs? Do these programs work?

So called free walls, graffiti walls, graffiti zones, etc. have failed to correct the vandalism communities have experienced. Huntington Beach, California is one of the most famous of these examples. Once the vandals had a place to paint, vandalism in the immediate area of the walls increased 300 percent. Graffiti zones do not work. Graffiti zones attract trouble. Despite the obvious failure of the vandals to adhere to community agreements, this city still stands accused of artistic censorship by graffiti advocates! Go figure! (Another graffiti advocate deceit think ploy to gain world sympathy.)

Would you like SPECIFIC examples? Visit this page at called: Graffiti “Free” or “Sanctioned” Walls Vignettes from All Over

One of the first things many community anti-graffiti groups do is suggest a so called "free-wall." The graffiti vandals are often the first to suggest it to them. It is absolutely normal at first to feel sorry for the vandal. Why wouldn't giving him or her a place to paint be a good idea? It seems very appropriate at first. But be very careful. During the time period between 1985 to about 1990, free wall experiments were tried in many cities. There were also walls that were simply "over looked" as well as designated walls that required some form of registration before painting could begin. In virtually every case, vandalism in the areas around the free zones became seriously problematic. Communities like Fresno, San Francisco, San Jose, and Los Angeles found themselves confronted with increased vandalism. Agreements between the cities and the so-called artists were not honored by the "artists." Time has proven again and again that free walls do not work. Apparently if a vandal is predisposed to violate the law, all the free walls in the world won't keep the vandal straight, and the paint off your wall. There is no honor among vandals.

Over looking the graffiti problem in certain areas of town, even under railroad over passes, encourages continuing vandalism. Graffiti abatement efforts are successful only when a zero tolerance policy is adopted. If you give the vandal a place to paint the vandal will become bored with that location and move to new areas.

A known tactic of the graffiti vandals is to practice or plan a piece with their crew on a free wall. The crew then goes elsewhere to paint the same picture without permission! Why? What the vandals who demand free walls don't tell you, and don't want you to know, is that the act of painting illegally is an essential part of the vandalism culture. If it isn't illegal it isn't graffiti. A city with a free wall could very well be contributing to the graffiti vandalism problem in another community. So be informed. Be absolutely outraged if the community next to you develops a soft heart for vandals. Your own community will pay the price.

In some cities, like Philadelphia, PA, government or privately sponsored community murals are helping to abate graffiti. What is present in this method that is absent in the "free zone" approach is adult empowerment, support, and supervision. In some instances painting is not the only activity kids are involved in. Kids have something to be proud of when finished. They take pride in their work. In most cases the people doing the painting have never been graffiti vandals!

In one Bay Area city an arts organization paid graffiti vandals to do a legal mural. The legal work was done, and soon afterward, the tags of those paid to do the work started to appear on walls and utility boxes in the same area. Mural experiments must have strict guidelines and supervision. In this case, I am told, the city let the mural artist have his way with little attention.

In places where vandals do have access to free wall it is not uncommon for a crew to practice on the free wall and go someplace else to do the same piece illegally. This has been documented in the U.S. and the United States. The sooner the do-gooders recognize graffiti vandals for what they really are the better. Free walls don't work.

California's Cal Trans had graffiti crews paint murals at freeway overpasses in the San Francisco area without coordinating these activities with the cities. Vandals that painted these murals are now trashing the areas in the vicinity of the murals. One government agency is blessing graffiti vandalism while the other is fighting it tooth and nail.

Even commercial walls painted to resemble graffiti attract vandalism. A famous San Francisco restaurant and night spot had their walls painted in hip hop style. It took no time before the walls of the business attracted vandals from everywhere. The entire neighborhood is now covered in graffiti. This poison the graffiti advocates call art is destroying the beauty of of our communities.


Government and the Law

Police departments, especially departments in small cities do not have time to investigate all vandalism complaints. The community and neighborhood watch groups must assume a serious role in the observing and reporting of vandalism. Police do respond to graffiti crimes in progress. The community cannot expect the police department alone to solve the graffiti problem. Graffiti IS a community issue and the police are just one integral part of a complex solution. Do make it easy for the police to do enforcement by getting good descriptions of suspects and suspect vehicles (make, model, license numbers etc.) Combine your graffiti abatement program with your crime prevention program. Encourage your local police department to stay the course.

Police departments that encourage officers to investigate misdemeanor vandalism complaints are generally departments that use community policing procedures. Under the community policing philosophy, criminal problems in the community are identified and solutions are sought. If your community is not using community policing visit with your Chief of Police and ask why. Years ago many police departments had no interest in investigating graffiti complaints. That appears to be changing. When you run into this problem in your town get their attention by starting internally at the top. If you can't get attention going in the front door start with the council or the police chief. Graffiti is a crime but it is also a social problem, one that is also perplexingly encouraged and supported by the radical political left.. It is ALSO a police problem whether the police like it or not. There used to be no glory investigating graffiti and the officers assigned frequently wished they were doing something else. Real graffiti cops were a rare breed, but not any more. Thanks to the NoGraf Network and thanks to to the pioneering efforts of police in the mid to late 90's the real graffiti cop was born. Meet real graffiti cops at

In California an officer must witness a misdemeanor to make an arrest, otherwise an investigation must be completed and a warrant sought before an arrest can be made. Witnesses to graffiti crimes can make a citizen's arrest. Felony vandalism arrests can be made on probable cause without warrant. A felony vandalism arrest is made when the damage amount exceeds $5000. California has passed a law that allows police to classify multiple graffiti damage locations as a felony. What are the graffiti laws in your state? Have you considered strengthening the laws in your state?

Graffiti abatement requires cooperation between citizens, police, district attorneys, judges, and local and state governments. Graffiti is a crime, but it is also a condition of our society's failure to raise children with traditional values and respect for law and the rights of others. We have not been caring for our kids.

Political leaders will sometimes not agree their city or county has a graffiti problem until 1) citizens bring proof and pressure to bear 2) the politicians are victims themselves 3) area businesses become enraged (money talks) 4) it is so obvious it cannot be ignored. It is embarrassing for some politicians to admit there is a graffiti problem. Serious elected officials with their hearts in the community can see the damage and arrange for appropriate action. Don't be surprised at first when politicians try to ignore a graffiti problem. It is a routine part of the process. You see it and you go through denial that it could get any worse. The politicians have a vested interest in NOT having problems happen during their term in office.

When the public loses interest in graffiti abatement, government agencies will lose interest as well. In order not to lose interest any program needs a person or committee independent of government to manage the effort. It takes energy, management, supervision and direction to keep a program running. City officials never seem to have the time, but volunteers often do. Help your city cope with graffiti by starting a well organized and supervised program dedicated to abatement and community education. When the community support begins to wane it is ALSO imperative that the city or county invigorate the program without the community's help until people do return. Graffiti abatement is not something you can start and stop. Abatement is a necessary and continuing process.

It is easy for the community to determine just how serious government and local business organizations are about graffiti abatement. Lip service does not eliminate the complaints or the graffiti. If you have been talking to your city for some time and the graffiti remains, all you are getting is lip service. Stay on top of the government agency because like it or not, you need their support. The ballot box is an effective tool. Vote politicians out of office that do not have a long term commitment to ending vandalism.

Banning the sale of aerosol paint cans outright was ruled unconstitutional in Chicago in 1993. The courts heard that 95% of the people responsible for graffiti vandalism were too committed to be deterred by the ban. (Source NGIN "From the Wall" December 1993.) Banning of aerosol paints is frequently topical and very controversial. It is an attempt to remove the vandal's primary tool. The effectiveness of this method can be debated. In general, the vandal will go wherever he or she needs to get their paints or markers -- including mail order and especially petty theft or burglary. Have we really reached a point where we must inconvenience the law abiding citizen because we are not able to control the distribution of paints at the point of sale? Should we be looking at encouraging business to lock up paints and supplies rather than limiting what can be sold?

I have run across a police department in California that believes that enforcement is a MAJOR part of the abatement effort. When it is obvious that certain parts of town are being struck by vandals this agency puts officers out to catch the culprits. This city North of San Francisco, caught 30 kids in a little over two weeks and almost brought a complete halt to the problem. When the city notices the problem creeping back the police get tough again. So it seems law enforcement is a philosophy than can vary from place to place. I suspect it has much to do with budgets and what police officials in your area consider important.

The laws in the U.S. are getting tougher and more graffiti vandals are getting stiffer sentences.

Some states still don't get it. They can't see the forest for the trees. Despite the horrific damage graffiti vandals do some states can't enact laws that make public vandalism a serious crime. The lobbyists against laws that allow police to make multiple misdemeanors a single felony count are self serving legal groups and in some cases - actual city and county governments. A recent case in California where a vandal was caught with 30 or more acts of vandalism amounting to over $90,000 was tried on ONE lousy misdemeanor and fined a miserable $1500. Where is the justice in that? The truth is the public doesn't know - yet. Californians mark my words. The time is come for an initiative that MANDATES vermin like this be tried as felons. They must also be held accountable for the damage they cause down to the last cent.


Art, Crime, and Society Values

Graffiti is a crime. Graffiti is vandalism. Graffiti is not art. There can be no argument in support of vandalism.

Commissioned art is not graffiti. Murals or walls painted LEGALLY are paintings or murals. Commission graffiti-style art carefully. A very famous place in a very famous city had graffiti-style paintings painted on the outside. Now the community near this business is a sewer of graffiti vandalism.

Every state has vandalism laws that apply to graffiti. Graffiti may have once been over looked in some areas but it has always been illegal.

In California, when public property is damaged by the vandal, intent to commit vandalism is presumed by statute.

Why is graffiti such an issue? Why this web page and why the FAQ? Graffiti is in vogue by a small subculture of vandals who unfortunately are having a major impact on the overall quality of life. Communities that never had a graffiti problem, suddenly do. Cities that had a small problem suddenly have a major problem. Graffiti is invading places and communities where we as civilized persons thought it would never take hold. Small Town, USA has graffiti on Main Street now. Graffiti is a sign of our time that needs attention. Information on the net was predominately pro-graffiti with no active voice against graffiti.

Even in communities with plenty of things for kids to do there are graffiti vandals.

Graffiti advocates believe graffiti is art and that so called "graffiti artists" have the right to paint any wall, any where, any time. Your blank wall is unsightly to the graffiti vandal and therefor is a perfect surface for their "art.".

Graffiti advocates believe graffiti is a right, protected by the first amendment, and that the property rights of the victim do not apply in any argument against graffiti. They feel graffiti is an acceptable form of self expression that the rest of the world is just too stupid to accept.

Graffiti advocates do not want graffiti legalized. The act of painting illegally is a major part of the thrill. Breaking the law and avoiding arrest is part of their culture. The need for so called legal walls is a continual rallying point with graffiti advocates but in reality the "legal wall" is part of their deceit.

Graffiti advocates will ask you whether you would want the graffiti artist out making pretty pictures or killing people. At least he's not killing people they say. This is supposed to make you feel better. (The other problem with this argument is that "tag bangers" in Los Angeles are killing and being killed. Most of the vandals caught up in graffiti don't understand their own sub-culture or are bent on deceiving the uninformed.)

Graffiti advocates believe that since legal billboards exist their graffiti should be allowed. This because they are financially challenged.

Rampant graffiti in a neighborhood tends to lower property values and scare away responsible persons who might otherwise buy property and invest in the community. The economic health of a community depends on the social health. We are all responsible for the social health of our towns.

Many states allow victims of graffiti to sue the vandals to recover damages. In California Sections 1714.1B and 1721 of the California Civil Code provide remedies for graffiti victims.


How do communities respond to graffiti?

It is perfectly natural to at first feel some empathy for the poor disenfranchised tagger. If you don't know they are deceiving you, you approach the problem like you would any other. Get over it. Graffiti advocates are not after empathy, only your wall.

Communities must begin their fight against graffiti the moment the graffiti first appears. When you delay your response the vandalism worsens. Before you know it the vandals have created zones of their own that you will start calling "graffiti alley." Develop a zero tolerance attitude toward graffiti vandalism.

  • Teach about anti-graffiti in the middle school DARE program.
  • Educate the community.
  • Educate stores who sell markers and paint sticks, about what kind of tools graffiti taggers use to make their mark.
  • Get the community involved.
  • Identify and Prosecute offenders.
  • Develop a graffiti abatement ordinance.
  • Get people to report graffiti for tracking - even if they do (thank you!) clean it up themselves.
  • Involve the School Resource Officer in Graffiti prevention.
  • Use volunteer groups to inventory and identify all sites with graffiti in the city.
  • When graffiti shows up on public utilities (pay phones, poles, power transfer boxes) notify the appropriate utility for clean up.
  • The police keep a "piece book" of taggers and their work and monikers.
  • Work with other cities specialists to help train our officers in gang related graffiti markings and monikers - Particularly cities with previous experience in this area.
  • Frequent patrol of problem areas.
  • Planned Citizens Police Academy w/discussion in one block of specific issues, i.e., graffiti, shoplifting
  • Vigilance is a key factor in abatement.
  • Have graffiti reporting numbers.
  • Ask the community to report crimes in progress via 911.
  • Document all graffiti cases with a criminal report and photographs whenever possible. And: If someone sees graffiti , citizens are encouraged to clean graffiti and to take a picture for the police. The stylized writing and moniker just might identify the person responsible!
  • Report all graffiti to the police.

Your community will have no funds for graffiti abatement. You will seek community support to meet the expense. Identify volunteers willing to do fund raising activities for your community abatement team. Team up with your business community or a local high school. (Be creative.)

Identify and take advantage of grant opportunities. There may be grant funds available to your abatement program from sources other than the local government budget.

There are no easy answers to eliminating graffiti. Each community's response to the blight is slightly different. Organizing abatement should be taken seriously. Identify goals and objectives and meet each one.

Don't Balkanize the abatement effort. Don't let one city department work against another. It is too easy for each part of a city to have its own graffiti abatement program. When this happens, graffiti gets abated occasionally but not routinely. No one knows who is in charge and everyone takes credit (especially the politicians) whether they deserve it or not. Make sure your community organizes to get the job done properly.

Hold your local authorities accountable. Don't let the anti-graffiti effort in your town lose momentum because a politician, bureaucrat or a police official, doesn't have time to do his or her job. Whenever you hear that old excuse, offer up a volunteer, and/or insist the jurisdiction hire enough people to meet the expectations of its citizens. Never accept no for an answer. Tell them you are also fed up with excuses and arguments. Likewise, whenever a city official does a great job toward meeting the abatement objective, go out of your way to thank his or her supervisor and the local elected officials.

Get the local newspaper to publish the activities of your volunteer graffiti abatement group. This might be harder than you think especially if the local paper has persons who are sympathetic with the plight of the so called "street artist. It has been my personal experience that today's news media, especially newspapers, are prone to be graffiti advocates.

When you start your organization it will falter unless you have experienced volunteer leaders and the cooperation of your local government.

Make sure your community D.A.R.E. program has an anti-crime, anti-vandalism, anti-graffiti unit included for the kids in local schools. (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) D.A.R.E. programs do work. The programs do reach kids early in life so the kids can make intelligent choices about their future and their friends. Support your local D.A.R.E. officer.

Work with kids in your community. Develop mentor programs. Identify "at risk kids and groups. Build youth centers. Create REAL ART programs for kids and young adults.

Do your local youth centers and organizations talk about vandalism? Encourage local anti-vandalism youth programs.

There are some inherently bad responses to graffiti. One of the worst examples of graffiti removal policy is perpetuated by California's highway department, CalTrans. Wherever they have new freeway contract work in progress they ONLY require contractors to clean the graffiti at the beginning and the end of the contract. This means graffiti placed on walls during the job can be up for months attracting even more damage. I have personal experience with this policy. Instead of meeting the challenge to abate vandalism this mindless bureaucracy makes graffiti videos with school children. part of the graffiti fight is controlling the government agencies that are supposed to be on our side.


Fundamentals: The Truth Has a Way of Making Itself Obvious

The fundamental emphasis of any graffiti abatement program is the prompt removal of graffiti damage. The faster you remove it the faster the problem diminishes. Most successful programs have a 24 hour or less abatement rule. Cities that are serious about removing graffiti aggressively use their graffiti ordinances.

The difference between graffiti and art is permission.

Cleaning graffiti is hard work.

Cleaning graffiti is expensive.

Graffiti often damages surfaces to the point of permanently changing the character of the surface and the character of the neighborhood.

There is no such thing as a graffiti artist. Anyone who still believes there is a graffiti advocate that has an agenda.

Painting over graffiti damage is, in some cases, the only way to cover it up.

Framing graffiti with paint attracts the attention of the vandal on repeated occasions. When you don't match the color, or just paint over the tag, you invite a return performance by the vandal. The paint job looks terrible and so does your building! Take time to do it right!

Graffiti advocates consider any attempt to abate graffiti ridiculous. They threaten to expand their vandalism to new levels if you paint over their work.

Graffiti writers do turn their lives around and become productive, responsible members of society. When you can engage a vandal in conversation stick firmly to the truth that graffiti is vandalism. Once in a while a discussion like this can help turn someone around. Some of the vandals are indeed socially undesirable. Others are just kids with an attitude. Deal with the attitude and bring the kid back.

Parents are held responsible for graffiti damage. Moms and Dads: discipline, respect, and self worth are all learned at home. When you don't teach and reinforce positive traits in your children you may have to pay for it.

Vandals are held responsible for graffiti damage.

When vandals are caught, they are prosecuted.

Some vandals steal their paint.

Regardless of what you read at the Art Crimes web site, much of today's graffiti is indeed gang related (turf marking, drug oriented, or hate type) tag graffiti. Travel through any large communities like San Francisco, Los Angeles, and even my little town of Pleasant Hill and it becomes quite obvious. Art Crimes is clueless. The number of persons actually interested in painting pretty pictures must be minuscule when compared to the amount of bad talent and gang graffiti out there. The gang vs artist debate is a smoke screen used to placate communities. Graffiti advocates want you to look the other way. The few who are not in gangs don't want you to feel concerned or frightened when a gang moniker or the tag from a violent crew appears on the power pole in front of your home. The graffiti advocate knows if you are concerned about the effects of graffiti, the "graffiti artist" down the street might get extra attention from the police. Tagging crews are a gang of sorts, since they are involved in illegal activity that can include theft of paint and markers from stores, violence against the public and other crews, as well as misdemeanor or felony vandalism. Graffiti vandals are indeed in gangs! Anyone who tells you otherwise is uninformed or is trying to deceive you.

Essential elements of a zero tolerance anti-graffiti effort are: 1) response time 2) wall-to-wall identical color matching, proven to reduce the odds of recurrence by as much as 900%, and 3) economics, the way your community decides to clean graffiti can reduce your community's over all abatement cost by selecting new technological advances in color matching.

You may never eliminate graffiti in your town but you can control it through abatement.

Coiled concertina wire (barbed wire) and huge rat guards protect freeway signs from graffiti vandalism in Southern, California. Ask the graffiti advocate if this ("tagging the heavens") really contributes to a beautiful community? Ask graffiti advocates if vandals falling from freeway over passes is part of the thrill. The vandal's relentless attacks on public property prompted this extreme action.

The anti-graffiti movement is a swelling grass roots cause consisting of persons in all occupations, socioeconomic, racial, ethnic, and sexual backgrounds. We are conservatives, middle of the road, and liberals, of every color in the rainbow. We are not "right wing militia psychos" as one graffiti advocate characterizes us. We are committed to ending the tragedy of graffiti. We are fathers, mothers, sons and daughters. We are grandmothers and grandfathers. We are families and civic groups. We are volunteers and businesses alike dedicated to ending this madness we call graffiti. We are tenacious. We are relentless. We never give up. We know the difference between graffiti and art. We care about our community and the people in it.


What about business owners and graffiti?

When graffiti first appears, business owners often expect government to clean the damage. Remarkably, business does not consider abatement a cost of doing business. Business wants the police and city to fix the problem. Some business owners balk at graffiti ordinances and avoid cooperating. In the end, successful and enlightened business leaders set the mood and bring the laggards along with them. This can be a long and frustrating process. Their attitude will amaze you. It is particularly puzzling in today's conservative "less government is better" business environment. You quickly understand why we have rules for businesses to follow and why all of the rules can't be removed from the books. These same laggards will often be the ones lobbying against graffiti ordinances.

Businesses who do not abate graffiti attract the ire of the community and the official attention of the local government code enforcement officer.

Some businesses do not take graffiti code enforcement seriously, ever . It will take the support of the community and even court appearances to wake up some business owners. You will scratch your head and wonder why!

Some cities do clean graffiti from commercial property without charge to business owners.

Business owners who do not cooperate with anti-graffiti clean up efforts are not seen as responsible businesses in the community.

Business owners who go out of their way to help abate graffiti, attract the positive attention of the town in which they operate. Go out of your way to recognize responsible business owners as part of your abatement rewards program.

Business owners and managers need to establish a relationship with the community in which they work and participate in graffiti abatement advisory groups and Neighborhood Watch.

Graffiti is vandalism. Just like replacing a broken window, removing graffiti is part of the cost of doing business. Business owners begin to anger when the damage is repeated. Suddenly the cost of doing business becomes more than the business is willing to pay. When the the limits of their patience and pocket books is reached, some business owners feign any responsibility for removing graffiti. The business might say, "When I clean my walls or fix my windows is up to me. If you want it cleaned sooner do it for me!" They know better. They really do. This attitude is one major reason that has prompted the Anti-Graffiti ordinances being adopted nation wide.

The slackers in the business community might tell you that graffiti ordinances are "unfunded mandates." Some politicians sensitive to business interests will buy-in to this view point and vote against the ordinances. The unfunded mandate argument is irresponsible and not relevant. The "unfunded mandate" as they describe it, is part of the cost of doing business. Repairing a business was never anyone else's job, why now? The business that leaves the graffiti up does so because the owner is mad as hell. The owner is frustrated that the vermin responsible are never caught and punished. There is also a perception that police are not doing enough for the business owner e.g. catching the vandals. The cost of abatement eats up profits fast. Unfortunately, when the graffiti remains the graffiti gets worse and in the long run business gets worse as patrons stay away from a decaying neighborhood. As I see it business owners have two choices: 1) fight the blight now or 2) snooze and loose everything later. Your future is up to you!.

Is your business repeatedly attacked by graffiti vandals? Do like the neighborhoods do and form a Commercial Neighborhood Watch group. Form clean up committees and help each other remove the damage. Assume some responsibility for the immediate area around your business as well as responsibility for your own walls. Ask your customers in the neighborhood to help! Do you have 24 hour businesses in the area? Ask the employees of these stores to be mindful of the area and to call the police if suspicious activity is seen. Be creative! Watch out for each other! Join the abatement effort. It isn't easy, but then neither is running your business!

Do you want an excellent example of a business who cares about their town? Do a Google search for "graffiti removal" and/or "graffiti abatement" and see just how many cities around the world are actively tackling this blight.

Graffiti Advocate Attitudes: Inhibiting abatement through encouragement of graffiti vandalism.

You may not believe it, but there is an ever growing commercial element to the vandalism sub-culture of the graffiti vandal. Books, magazines, video tapes, paints and vandalism supplies are available by mail or in local stores. New stores are opening that sell products used by graffiti vandals. As we enter yet another cycle in the tragedy of graffiti, the hip-hop stores are the rage . In many parts of the country the commercial activity is so new, that even your local police department may be totally unaware of it. The secondary effects these businesses have on your communities is quite serious.

Persons, magazines, web sites, groups, video vendors, art supply stores,and even schools that celebrate vandalism tend to encourage vandalism. Be conscious of deviant attitudes and be prepared to respond and defend your abatement programs in front of your children and local authorities. Are you reading the magazines read by your children? Do you supervise their after school activities? Are you mindful of their activity on the Internet? Who is influencing your child's mind? Where you least expect it you will find the graffiti advocate. Does your son or daughter have a web page at your local high school that contains photographs of graffiti vandalism? Is your child a fledgling graffiti advocate? Only parents can draw the line between free speech and morality. Some schools apparently no longer caution their students about their point of view or the direction their point of view can take them in life. A student's opinion is a free speech issue and the schools see no moral obligation to interfere with immature opinion or provide instruction in civic duty, because of a liberal interpretation of the First Amendment. That being the case, if the school does not care about the content of pages cranked out in the World Wide Web Class, perhaps mom and dad should?

As an example, take a look at this link to the on-line issue of KIDS Magazine and an article entitled, "Stretching the Mind" from the February 5, 1997 issue, written and produced by students of the New Vista High School in the Boulder Valley School District in Boulder, Colorado. (This same school published nude photographs on the world wide web taken by student in an "art" class. ) A student writes a review of the Art Crimes web site heaping praise on graffiti vandalism and glorifies a list of the most notorious of the graffiti villains. Does this child really know what graffiti means and are the schools and the parents paying attention? Is this child stretching his mind, is he actively deceiving himself, or is someone else deceiving him? During the same week of February, Fremont California Police concluded an investigation of 34 graffiti vandals, 14 of whom were arrested, and who may all go to jail for graffiti vandalism related felonies. A felony means prison. Is the young author of this review aware of what and whom he is glorifying? Changing attitudes about crime and vandalism is a responsibility the schools and parents. Schools have to deal with the issue of vandalism when kids want to bring the topic of graffiti into the classroom. The meaning of law must be clear to kids and adults who think the pictures are pretty. (KIDS Magazine is a project of Net Scout Services located at the Department of Computer Sciences at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is a project of the InterNIC.) (By 12/18/96, graffiti advocate pages on a high school server in New Mexico referenced by this paragraph had been removed and are no longer accessible. There is one page on the high school server that refers visitors to the Georgia Tech Art Crimes web site.) How do we help our high schoolers and teachers understand the difference between vandalism and art or the difference between a future with or without a criminal record?

Graffiti advocates on the Internet generally use personal attacks and threats to send their graffiti advocate message. Frequent references to their personal opinion of unrelated issues clouds their arguments. You need a "sticks and stones will break my bones, but words will never hurt me attitude."

The cave-man theory is a popular defense for graffiti. "If the cave man could do it so can the "graffiti artist" of today. Graffiti has been around since the dawn of time. Remind whomever uses this priceless obfuscation that the cave man used blood and spit for paint. I'm also sure that if he spit blood in a cave other than his own he got his head bonked. Ask the vandals if they still use blood and spit and then remind the vandals that canvas wasn't available to early man. I kind of doubt the cave man painted on walls for the same reasons today's graffiti vandals do. This single graffiti advocate theory is on of the most commonly used! Incredible, as stupid as it is, this obfuscation continues to give the vandals reason a for being.

Like the cave-man theory, it is common to hear a vandal support his vandalism addiction by saying if man has done it since the beginning of time why can't I. Just remind the vandal it sounds like the age old problem a parent has with an immature child. "Well Johnny has one why can't I, waaaaah!?"

Graffiti advocates know how easy it is to be so right, about how graffiti is so wrong.

Graffiti advocates truly believe they are fighting for a worth while cause. They believe they are on a holy crusade to protect an art form.

Graffiti advocates don't really want graffiti legalized, they just want law enforcement and the community to over look it. They would still enjoy being chased by the police once in a while to maintain the thrill!

Graffiti advocates frequently defend their vandalism by making reference to legal bill board advertising. The graffiti advocates feel they are often economically disadvantaged so they should be allowed to "advertise" too. (Advertise what I wonder?) They see no difference between a bill board and a tag placed on a freeway sign (or so they say.) This argument is so ridiculous it confounds most people.

Graffiti advocates want you to leave the graffiti artists alone because the pictures are pretty. (PPP syndrome: Pretty Picture Protectiveness.) Persons suffering from PPP are naive. They probably have never been a graffiti victim. They see only the pretty picture and not the criminal act. Everyone needs to fight this syndrome at some point. The sooner the better.

PPP causes people to put graffiti in two categories: 1) ugly scrawls 2) "street art." All because the picture is pretty. Remember it is only legal art when it is legal. Simple concept. Don't become confused when you discuss abatement. Don't protect one form of vandalism and scourge the other. Your abatement effort is doomed if you do. The graffiti advocates want you to believe there are "distinctions" to be made about who does what kind of graffiti. There are NO distinctions to be made. Vandalism is vandalism. The concept is so simple to understand you always wonder when you hear people being sympathetic for the poor down trodden graffiti vandal.

Universities sincerely interested in education and the study of deviant behaviors as applied to modern technology, computer science, multimedia and communications, graphic arts, HTML, ad. nauseam, should read their students web pages. Some research standards must exist so that illegal behaviors are not celebrated. The webmaster must not receive high praise and accolades for the secondary effects of a graffiti advocate web page throughout the civilized world. (graffiti vandalism) When the researcher becomes part of the problem the educational value of the "research" becomes obscured. Academic freedom does not give a student the right to encourage criminal behavior. Anyone can photograph, scan, and collect pretty pictures for display on the web. There are proper ways, even in a liberal school, to research and publish without contributing to the growth of destructive and criminal behaviors in our society. Certainly a degree should not be awarded to the sponsor of a conspiracy. If your child's university has a graffiti advocate web page ask the college president why. If he isn't moved, ask the alumni association for help. If the alumni turn away, share your knowledge with businesses in the college town. Perhaps if that town has a graffiti problem you might just see an article in the paper about the web site changing to another point of view. Freedom of speech and thought is not an issue when the activity has the same effect as yelling "fire" in a crowded theatre.Expect and demand better attitudes from an institution of higher learning.

Your country, your town, and your property belong to you, and not to the vandal. You have a right to say, "Not in my back yard."

Other web sites represent a personal challenge for parents. Because we do live in America, there is a First Amendment right to believe and speak as you please. The graffiti advocate pages you find on the world wide web do perhaps represent an error in judgement on the part of the author, but... While you should expect better judgement from an educational institution, you cannot and should not attempt to control the publishing efforts of deviants espousing graffiti as an art form on their personal pages. Remember that these pages speak for themselves without much help from you. Just be prepared to defend your abatement efforts when someone points to one of these documents with questions about your position on the issue. Stay informed, stay one step ahead of the deceit thinker. Oh and, send your children to high schools and colleges without a graffiti advocate web site.

The Graffiti Advocates Mount Rushmore theory is a unique twist. Because the sculpture on Mt. Rushmore exists graffiti should be OK! You all get the connection right?

The heroin addict portrayal theory is a new one too! Television and the movies portray people as drug addicts. TV puts them on display as it were. So graffiti advocates putting pictures of vandalism on the web is the same thing right? Well no not really, because most of the time anyway, in the end, the bad guy gets his. Addicts go to jail, they destroy their heads, or they die. We don't often see the main stream media showing off pictures of dope addicts to encourage the addicts to continue their behavior. More graffiti advocate theories as I become aware of them!


What about graffiti damage and the effects of graffiti?

Etching a window dramatically reduces the window's structural integrity. Windows that have been etched are a safety hazard when subjected to sever shock or movement, e.g. earthquake.

Allan Champion of Glass Scratch Removers, a company that serves the San Francisco Bay Area, says that scratches on glass from etching vandalism can be polished off! A high speed slurry process using rare earth elements and water in a suction vacuum over the scratch can polish and return the strength to the glass. It is a solution for damage where the cost of replacing the entire window is a consideration. See the Vendors page on the Anti-Graffiti Web for more information.

Graffiti damage changes the appearance of a community permanently. It isn't too hard to tell where the original damage was unless your community has purchased the technology to match the colors of vandalized surfaces.

Property values and the identity of a community are changed by graffiti. Contrary to what the graffiti advocates would have you believe the change is NOT for the better. There can be significant damage to your property investment and the economic health of your community when graffiti is unabated.

Graffiti is a blight on the community and the community landscape.

Graffiti makes people fearful of their own neighborhoods.

Graffiti impacts negatively the value of community space and property.

The cost of graffiti damage in the United States is staggering and unfortunately the Georgia Institute of Technology isn't paying the bill. You are. I learned at the Annual Anti-Graffiti Conference in San Jose for 1996 that the annual cost of abatement nationwide in 1995 was in the FOUR BILLION dollar range.

In 1995 the San Jose, California Anti-Graffiti effort recorded the following statistics: 1,021,479 square feet of graffiti painted using 5000 gallons of paint; 62 paint-outs held; 10,400 hours of juvenile volunteer time used; 23 surveillance projects that netted 18 graffiti vandals; and 120 juvenile offenders who participated in weekend clean up details as part of their punishment.

Graffiti vandals have destroyed archaeological treasures in pursuit of their "self expression." An archaeologist from Oregon wrote to the Anti-Graffiti Web that vandals destroyed Native American historical sites in the National Parks. An interesting twist to this story is that well meaning abatement volunteers compounded the damage by removing the graffiti with chemicals or procedures that prevented the archaeologist from obtaining critical research data. Graffiti is destructive to history and to our culture. Abatement at historical places certainly requires professional assistance!

Persons that have given up on various political systems use graffiti out of anger and hatred to send their messages to opposition elements. Political graffiti is a serious problem in some countries.


What are some controversial approaches?

A government agency will frequently alert the community to the suspected presence of crooks and violent offenders through the media, wanted posters, or through neighborhood watch groups. What these same agencies won't do is publish pictures of graffiti or the tags found on walls in their communities. You will read articles about graffiti in the paper but you won't read that a specific tag was found. The reason for not publishing this information is so that vandals are not given any credit for the vandalism. The major drawback of this philosophy is that the community (including potential informants) never see information that could lead to the identity of the vandal. Communities side-step around the graffiti issue on tippee toe for fear the vandals will come out in force. As a community, you need to decide who, what, when, why, and where tags are or are not used to identify and catch the vandals. Is alerting the community to the tags part of you philosophy or not? It can be a Catch-22. Police can't or won't investigate but you can't share your findings with the town either. How are we going to catch those responsible for the graffiti?

This web page and this FAQ is admittedly a controversial approach. Look around you and you will find very few communities dealing with vandalism publicly. (This was true in 1995 but not as true in 2008!) Fighting back has always been done quietly with a paint brush despite the number and volume of the graffiti advocates.


How do you catch or discourage the vandal?

Encourage your local police to set aside time and man power to put trouble spots under surveillance. The police do have a role in fighting graffiti. Arrests play a part in reducing vandalism.

Watch for suspicious persons in areas where graffiti is a problem. Report the persons to police. Provide accurate descriptions of persons and vehicles.

Report graffiti when you find it. Give the police an indication of when the damage happened. Between what times? Establish a pattern.

Video surveillance is a good technique to catch vandals.

Plant ivy that will obscure targeted walls over time. When the vandal has no surface he can't paint.

Put sprinklers on a motion sensor. When the vandal gets close to a wall, the vandal gets wet.

Increase lighting and visibility around graffiti areas. This can include cutting back shrubbery and pruning trees so that areas obscured by greenery can be seen from well traveled areas.

Stake out the vandal's favorite spots. Report activity in progress to police. Note that some communities are using citizen surveillance with great success. Other community police departments won't even discuss the possibility. When you do decide to use this approach it is absolutely essential that responsible persons participate and that they follow the instructions of the police to the letter. It is never a good idea to attempt an arrest on your own. Hot heads need not apply! Ask your police agency to use the new surveilance products available to them.

Encourage neighbors to walk in these areas when exercising. Walk in groups and carry a cellular phone to report suspicious activity. (There are unique citizens groups who patrol their neighborhoods with cellular phones looking specifically for taggers!)

Establish a neighborhood watch group. Be serious about it. make sure the neighbors know where the graffiti problem areas are so that if they see loitering persons they will know to call the police.

Consider a reward program. When a vandal is caught as a result of a tip give a reward!

Parents should take an interest in the activities of their children. Watch for graffiti on personal items. Look for paint cans, large magic markers, "My Name Is" stickers, or tools you don't recognize (that might be used for etching.) Look for their "piece book" and ask them if any of their drawings are on the city walls. Look at the graffiti in your neighborhood and ask your children about it. Are their hands stained by paint and hand-held markers? Discuss with your kids how the appearance of graffiti trashes the neighborhood in which you live. Discuss with them who the victims are. Get professional help for your child if you discover involvement in the graffiti sub-culture. When your kid is caught you will pay for the damage he or she has inflicted on the community. Your child will continue to sink deeper and deeper into an aberrant sub-culture.

Encourage your city to belong to an area wide Anti-Graffiti Task Force where items like the following are discussed and information exchanged: abatement products, how vandals damage property, how to use volunteers, abatement programs and practices, and law enforcement issues (tag and moniker information exchange.)

In the 2000's there are many new methods police can use to knab the graffiti vandal in the act. There are links to many of these companies on the Anti-Graffiti Web Clean Page.


What are some hazards of cleaning graffiti?

Many removal products can be hazardous to your health. Wear appropriate safety clothing, masks, breathing, and eye protection. Follow the guidelines as established by your volunteer group. Make sure you train volunteers in the proper use of cleaning equipment and products. Read the directions on all cleaning products.

Use caution in cleaning signs near major streets and intersections. You can be killed while not observing safety considerations near heavy vehicle traffic. Wear bright Federal Safety Orange jackets or vests so that drivers of vehicles can see you.

Don't be a hero. Don't try to clean graffiti in places that are way out of reach. Insist that the agency responsible for the sign do the cleaning.

Make sure that any recycled paint you use to abate graffiti has been tested for the ABSENCE of LEAD. You don't want to create a toxic problem where none existed before.

There may be insurance issues for cities to deal with before starting an abatement program.

Some anti-graffiti chemicals (like xylene) cause cancer in laboratory rats.

Some Words of Wisdom!
Be safe! Be Careful! Take a Friend!

Hi, I just visited your website and enjoyed it very much. However, I want
to make sure that people know how dangerous it can be to remove graffiti.
I was attacked by several pre-teen youths while attempting to remove
graffiti from a bus.  When working in a public area (not your own
property) I would recommend doing the cleanup during school hours and with
at least one other person. People like to retaliate even if it's not their
own "tag".


Who Do You Call?

Early on in your program get the cooperation of potential victims: utilities, businesses, government jurisdictions, bus companies, railroads, etc. Find out who their abatement person is so your group can call ONE person and get damage reported and cleaned.

Arrange for the citizens in your town to call ONE number to report graffiti, not twenty. Have a volunteer make the necessary calls to other agencies when the victim has been determined.

Create regular graffiti patrols to record the location of new graffiti. Doing so allows your community to establish crime time elements the police can use as an aid to catching the vandals. Record the damage you find and turn it over to your designated authority.

Take good notes. Keep business and utility companies appraised of their real progress.


The Vandal Underground: Who does graffiti?

Graffiti has historically been associated with different groups of people. These groups claim their "art" is done for different reasons. Not every group of kids you see on the streets is a crew. Who does graffiti may vary from town to town. What you read below is taken from discussions in alt.graffiti, other web pages, and published materials. Your police department can tell you what kinds of "crews" are active near you.

Graffiti vandalism is done by all races, creeds, colors, sexes, and by persons in every socioeconomic category. The police know the profiles of vandals in the various vandalism sub-cultures. You can't label all vandals in any particular way. Different cultures vandalize for different reasons, may or may not be violent, may or may not be in gangs or crews, or may or may not be going to art school. You just don't know until you ask your local police. Don't ask the graffiti advocate.

Gangs mark their turf with monikers and messages. As gang memberships increase, more and more gang graffiti is seen. The moniker or message in gang graffiti is meant to threaten and intimidate others, recruit new members, advertise the sale of drugs, and mark gang boundaries. Graffiti is a gang's major communication tool. Gang graffiti is plentiful in many areas. This graffiti is hate of the worst kind. There are several kinds of gangs that do graffiti. There are racial hate groups to drug dealers that deface our communities.

There are groups called "tagging crews" who put their tags up for "fame." These groups are vandals with little artistic ability. Taggers often have no particular "territory" as a gang member might have territory. It is common to see a tagger's mark over a wide area. The vandal attempts to show style through the type and placement of the tag. (Tagging a freeway sign is called tagging the "heavens." ) Tagging crews specialize in various kinds of targets from walls to freeway signs to high altitude tags on the roofs of buildings. They generally paint their crew name with their individual tag. They tag for adventure, thrills, and to run from the cops. Tagging is the most obnoxious form of graffiti vandalism because it is so plentiful and pervasive. It is a cancer requiring constant surgery by abatement teams.

Taggers and tagging crews claim they are not gang members nor gangs in the classic sense; however, tagging crews are associated with theft, vandalism, and in some cases violence against rival crews or the public. Tagging crews in Southern California engage in a practice called "bus bombing." Crews get on a bus and terrorize passengers while vandalizing the bus. Crews often steal their paints from stores or open garages in residential areas. Stores in areas where paint thefts are common have had to lock up paints and markers. Cities, counties, and states are responding to aerosol theft and vandalism by outlawing the paints. (Have you noticed that the whole world is victimized by graffiti?) There certainly is a fine line between gang membership and crew membership.

Contrary to what the graffiti advocates would have you believe, "tagging crews" in Los Angeles have become more violent. Tagging crews have evolved into gangs (tag bangers) and do carry weapons and do behave like gangsters. This is common knowledge in to police in communities where it is occurring. A major theme of graffiti advocate deceit think is to perpetuate the myth that graffiti is not done by gangs. Much of it is.

Not every tagger is gang member but every tagger is a vandal. They are all criminals.

Graffiti has been associated with the "hip-hop" music culture.

There are loners who enjoy their "art." These are the minority of "artists" so celebrated on various graffiti advocate web pages. This "artist" minority (the piecers) hold themselves morally and artistically above the tagger, the gang banger, and the tag banger and generally work very hard to publicize graffiti as a desired and unappreciated art form rather than vandalism. The odd issue is that even though the "piecer" believes him or herself superior to the tagger, the evolution of a "piecer" includes tagging! Even Art Crimes admits to this. Despite their roots the "piecer" is often embarrassed by the "toy" tagger. In some areas though, tagging appears as important to the vandal subculture as throwing up pieces. All one has to do is wander through San Francisco on Market St. or Mission St. In the area of the art college the tags of some of the so called famous "piecers" can be found in hundreds of places over a large area. (When you visit this part of our jeweled city by the Bay your gut will wrench and an anger you can't imagine will consume you. These vandals are not who the people of San Francisco really are.) Those defending piecers are heavily involved in deceit think or the rationalization of vandalism as an art form. They don't tell you, or they won't admit, that the "piecer" is also a vandal who commits senseless acts of hatred and contempt against his/her neighbor. The vandal's pictures might be pretty but you must remind the pretty picture vandal that the difference between art and graffiti is PERMISSION. This is a simple no-brainer concept they often have difficulty understanding.

Graffiti advocates will tell you that legal murals don't get tagged. This is a bold faced lie. There is no honor among vandals. Their hate for their neighbor is universal. Legal murals are constant victims of senseless tagging. Visitors to San Francisco, CA can see this first hand.

Most vandal sub-cultures will defend their wanton destruction of public and private property as an art form that we as victims just don't understand. The vandals say that if we did understand it we wouldn't mind graffiti. The basic trouble with this argument is that the vandals cannot articulate what it is the rest of the world doesn't understand!

One of the best definitions of why vandals do graffiti was written by a former "graffiti writer." Of all the reasons I have read, this one is the most plausible : "But then I started thinking some more, and I realized what the essence of graffiti is about, why people do it. It's not for fame (there is none), not for girls (they don't care), not for money (ha ha), not for recognition (you can't be yourself), and not even for competition (what's the point) or art (because anything can be artistic). It's all about two things: tacky youthful rebellion (to a certain point), and more so, a desire to show that there are some things that just can't be controlled." In a nutshell this writer says the young vandals paint out of rebellion, anger, contempt, and hatred. What they are feeling is not art. What they are feeling is the sensation of "getting even." They are acting out anger and giving in to emotional, irrational, and an immature fever for vengeance against whatever it is that bothers them. This definition gives me hope, because I think given this definition, a root cause can be found that the world's social organizations can deal with. Every generation has had some unique way to trash the system as they grew up. Every generation had fringe elements that wouldn't/couldn't be controlled! (That's what they called it anyway.) Conformance to them is like admitting defeat. The generations of the 80's and 90's have chosen world trashing as their anti-control statement.


What is "deceit think" and why do I need to know about it?

I recognized very early when creating this page that the graffiti advocate used very silly arguments to justify vandalism. I dubbed these arguments graffiti advocate deceit think -- and then I read the book Suburban Gangs: The Affluent Rebels. In author Dan Korem's book, he talks about how gangs deceive members into belonging and acting through false promises. His premise is that youth (and even some adults) are easily deceived into a belief or behavior pattern by other persons or lawless groups with deceptive arguments about membership in the family. Victim youth who are particularly susceptible, are those who externally, have a Missing Protection Factor (a one-to-one relationship with someone who really cares about the health, welfare, and activities of the child or young adult) . The gang, or crew, or graffiti advocate perpetuate the pain of MPF and the tragedy of graffiti by reinforcing what Dan Korem calls the "deception" or the "internal-in-the-mind factor." Gangs, crews, and graffiti advocates offer an illusion of belonging and family and nothing more than an illusion.

Educators on the political far left use graffiti as a way to build manifestos for their "truth." These people trash the system and make heroes out of the so-called disenfranchised. They reduce graffiti vandalism to a war of the haves and have nots, the oppressed and not so oppressed, the politics of exclusion, vandals are scapegoats, ad nauseam. At least two of these manifestos at two different universities use Nazi's to make various points. Reading this stuff is truly sickening. There is a funny side. You just know the following must be true. If a vandals trashed this professor's wall, painted graffiti on her car, damaged her parents home, violated her peace and security, the story would be quite different. Liberal thinkers are the first to call the police and demand action when their space is invaded. Their public or published face is not their private face. This kind of pathological thinking and university support is what Art Crimes uses to defend itself. Does it make you feel better about the tags on your walls? You'll love this sociological manifesto of deceit posted at Art Crimes.

The Graffiti culture makes extensive use of revisionist history techniques to confuse the public and the media, to cover up their crimes, and build public empathy for their acts. The media is frequently approached by sad-eyed vandals wanting to promote a graffiti show, popular culture, or seeking to build acceptance of their acts in other ways. The vandals NEVER tell the media everything. Vandals also don't answer difficult questions. (Hint: reporters please do some investigative reporting before you are overly influenced.) When the media buys the deceit you read articles about the pretty pictures but not how the same individuals have been trashing their communities for years. DECEIT THINK is aimed at everyone. Avoid falling victim to revisionist history, half truths, and the public lies of criminals. The vandal's illusions and deceit are reinforced and improved upon in many ways including:
  • Reinforcement of illegal behavior as an acceptable art form.
  • Comparisons of ancient human behaviors to modern vandalism practices.
  • Encouragement through capitalism and exploitation by unscrupulous companies. (Business feeding off the "fad.") You could call this "store front support." e.g. Advertising with graffiti as an essential element to the message.
  • Reinforcement of the illegal behavior by adults who should know better.
  • Defending their own culture with an aggressive frenzy when challenged.
  • Defending tagging crews as non-violent, otherwise law abiding young people when they are not.
  • Stretching rationalizations to support the behavior.
  • Socioeconomic deceit. Insisting graffiti is the act of an economically disenfranchised person while ignoring the vandals in affluent communities. The left enjoys using graffiti as an economic argument.
  • Feeding on their own momentum and deceit to give their members strength and identity. The advocates do not let up. They represent a large and growing wave of members that are costing this country billions of dollars every year.
  • Obtaining the support of the general public and the press through deceit. When empathy comes from a local politician, the press, a school, a teacher or other recognized citizen, the graffiti advocate has succeeded in confusing the public and moving their movement one more step toward American mainstream culture. The most frequent deception is made by the few pretty-picture vandals in the movement. Given the talent of some of these individuals, it is very easy for the uninformed to buy into protection of graffiti as an art form. This is how "legal walls" came into vogue during the first wave of graffiti vandalism in the mid 80's. Cities and towns across America were fooled into believing that vandalism would diminish with legal walls available to the so called "graffiti artists." They were successfully deceived. The walls never worked. Graffiti vandalism is one of the costliest crimes, in terms of dollars, in the United States today.
  • By feigning oppression and victimization when in fact the vandal is the aggressive deviant. (Dan Korem points out that youth don't like to believe they are susceptible to deceit. The youth have "bought the lie" as Dan puts it and must defend their conscious decision to be a part of the culture at all costs.)
  • Using emotional rather than rational argument to defend the graffiti cause and deceive the world. When you never have to grow up, when all you have to do is support a deviant life style because it makes you feel less pain for whatever life situation you happen to be in, and to hell with the rest of the world, you remain in the graffiti culture. All other deceitful encouragements aside, the decision to belong in the graffiti culture rests personally with each vandal. To grow up and out of the culture the vandal must acknowledge that vandalism is a hateful, spiteful activity. Scarring communities with ugliness is not a life time pursuit. Dan Korem does a better job of describing this when he says in his book on page 250, " If I am a deceiver I want to find someone in pain who is not honestly confronting or dealing with pain. And I want to find someone who has internal pain, like from a troubled home. I'm not looking for someone who simply has a sprained ankle."
  • Lies. Telling only the story they want you to hear.

A Good Example of Deceit Think

See this graffiti-advocate site at the American Institute for Learning (link and URL no longer working)in Austin, Texas. (Partially funded by the tax payers of Austin through the City of Austin.) The site does the following things to promote vandalism as an art form:

  1. Promoting other major graffiti advocate sites on the net including Art Crimes. A clear absence of community and government links that detail why vandalism is against the law and victimizes others.
  2. Refers to graffiti as urban art when in fact graffiti is urban vandalism. Graffiti is symptomatic of neighborhoods that no longer can cope or care.
  3. Claims people fear what they don't understand. Ask them what we don't understand! We know vandalism when we see it.
  4. After advocating graffiti as an art form, the writer claims 85-90% of graffiti is vandalism then elevates pretty picture vandalism to a cult level.
  5. Claims that graffiti does not get the credit it deserves because the art is unusual, yet there is no acknowledgment the act is malicious.
  6. Kids that grow up in the Hip Hop scene appreciate graffiti. The inference is of course that it should be appreciated because young people drawn to vandalism appreciate it.
  7. Claims that all artists want is respect and that graffiti artists will be respected in the community when in fact these vandals are reviled.
  8. These pages are supported by an apparent social institution that ought to know better.

While this site may no longer be around you can see similar attitudes in other sites that defend vandalism.


Are there civilized crimes?

The Monday, December 18, 1995 issue of Wall Street Journal (Western Edition, VOL. CXXXIII, No. 118) carried an excellent article entitled "There Are No Civilized Crimes." written by Richard Romley, the Maricopa County Arizona Attorney. (Forwarded to me by then X-MAN of the Pioneer Ford Community Program in Phoenix, Az.) Romley said in this article, "The acceptance of "trivial" crime as normal is reflected by the proliferation of graffiti vandalism." Romley recognized in this article a concept I have been trying to put into words in this collection of graffiti information. He goes on to say, "How we define deviance ultimately determines our reaction to it and the standards of conduct we learn to accept. Individually and collectively, society seems to have grown dangerously accustomed to recognizing as deviant only the extreme abnormalities of human behavior." Romley said that Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan defined this trend as "defining deviancy down." What people view as acceptable today includes criminal behavior that has been defined down. Graffiti vandalism is one of those behaviors! In Romley's view, "We make a grave mistake when we begin to regard the less vivid expressions of aberrant behavior as acceptable examples of "civilized" crime. This is perhaps the single most important reason the anti-graffiti groups across the U.S.A. are as concerned and as vocal as they are about graffiti vandalism.

The graffiti advocates on the Net, and in the world at large, are working hard to trivialize graffiti vandalism even in the face of growing numbers of victims and in the tremendous cost to this nation in dollars. Graffiti advocates view graffiti as an artistic means of self expression. The "expression" has a sincere message according to the graffiti advocate. They believe the world should want to see what these "artists" paint where ever these "artists" choose to paint. This is a weird free-speech concept. Imagine being allowed to exercise your right to free speech at great personal expense to others. Romley disagrees with the graffiti advocate point of view as do I when he says, "But I do not view the willful destruction of another's sense of security as an acceptable means of self fulfillment or rite of passage." Graffiti is not an acceptable form of self expression even if you truly believe that's what the vandal's intent is. (I think expression is just another obfuscation argument to cover up what really motivates the activity.) The graffiti vandal treads heavily on the rights of others. When we allow graffiti to remain we permit the true character of a neighborhood to be hidden under the painted hatred and contempt of the vandal. When we don't take graffiti seriously our world changes for the worse. Romley describes graffiti laden areas as locations where we "quit living, shopping, and driving." This has been proven true over and over again but the graffiti advocates can't and won't deal with this issue because they know they have no leg to stand on. As one of the major contributors of Art Crimes, said in a Usenet posting, graffiti advocates "know how easy it is to be so right, about how graffiti is so wrong." When graffiti is ignored, it becomes an engraved invitation to other criminals that chaos reigns supreme and crime is tolerated." So much for graffiti as a civilized crime.

Graffiti isn't funny, it isn't cool, it isn't art. The act is criminal and it is not civilized. Graffiti is a crime. It is a crime, yet you read everywhere on the net that those of us who acknowledge the illegality of graffiti are somehow cruel in our attitudes or maintain deviant and distorted views about art, freedom of expression, or the rights of others in general. In my view, the growing offense by the graffiti advocates is a direct effort to turn graffiti into a civilized crime. A crime that they hope will be tolerated and ignored. My sadness and concern is that many people in responsible positions in the media and public service already lean this way. I hear it spoken in the premisesof their questions when I am interviewed about this page. The graffiti advocate's viewpoint has taken hold and enjoys the praise and attention of some. The graffiti advocates and their defenders object strenuously to viewpoints that return us all to reality. The anti-graffiti cause threatens the vandal's ease of movement that he/she is enjoying in some communities and offends the sensitivities and politics of those who come out in defense of the vandal's pretty pictures. All one has to do is read the four and five star ratings that graffiti advocate web sites have received for creatively displaying the work of vandals.

To many web reviewers graffiti is cool, in vogue, hip, and even correct. The anti-graffiti pages are described as created by angry men, (see the Excite Review of An Anti-Graffiti Web Page. Nice score but they missed the point! Article no longer available in 2008.) right wing, weird militia type psychos(link to no longer working) , capitalistic pigs, or narcs. No there are no civilized crimes and yes we do need to define deviancy correctly in America. It is being defined for us by advocates of pretty pictures on behalf of the vandals who scrawled them there.
Given the aggressive reinforcement of the illusion of graffiti as an art form, it is becoming increasingly necessary for the world to recognize and stand up against graffiti advocate deceit and defining deviancy down. It is time to see through the illusions and focus our attention on the real intent of the deceitful arguments in favor of vandalism. The desecration of our communities by a sub-cultural fringe element is not acceptable. We must fan away the "deceit think" smoke screens and recognize the graffiti advocate's control over our youth and the influence they have begun to have on their new defenders. The graffiti advocates are influencing younger generations that are growing up seeing vandals as role models and indeed this is an underlying intent expressed in some graffiti advocate videos I have seen. The solution is to say you will not accept it anymore. This madness must end. Take a stand against graffiti vandalism in your community. Don't trivialize the crime. Don't define it down. Don't give in.

Do you need to to see deceit think in action? There are some very good deceit think writings on the net. An article entitled, Eradicating the Stain: Graffiti and Advertising In Our Public Spaces by Jeremiah Luna, from Bad Subjects, Issue #20, April 1995 (Carnegie Mellon University English Department server. ) declared the anti-graffiti movement is similar to the Nazis party. Sad but true. (Link to article taken down.)You really do need to read this trash in order to get an understanding of how the graffiti advocate views your rights and your property. Luna describes the anti-graffiti movement as being part of an "anti-graffiti police state." Go figure. Perhaps he has never been a graffiti victim? Whatever the reason, this single article referenced by the Art Crimes web site at Georgia Tech University will really open your eyes. A United States University web site wants you to read this article. The same University that is playing a significant role in the Olympics for 1996. How terribly sad. You can see though that the folks at Art Crimes do know the cost of graffiti. See this article at their web site entitled: Hard Hitting Modern Perspective on Hip Hop Graffiti This article is © copyright 1996 Kevin Element Here is a list of everyone who has contributed to the success of Art Crimes as listed by Art Crimes on their Special Thankspage.

In the 2000's graffiti took on a new meaning to some law enforecement agencies. Graffiti is defined as a "quality of life" crime. Without warning our greatest ally in the fight against graffiti vandalism, the graffiti cop, defined grtaffiti deviants down based entirely on the visual effects of the graffiti vandalism. Vandals are are now a form of "social criminal." This was done as a way to help law enforcement prioritize their response to criminal activity based on their budgets for certain types of crimes. The anti-graffiti activist is now fighting to be heard in public and to be taken seriously by some law enforcement agencies. The trouble with the logic is that graffiti costs the public and business perhaps billions every year. Some social crime, eh? When your local law enforcement agency defines graffiti vandalism down as a social crime you as the anti-graffiti advocate need to work even harder to make sure law enforcement does its part. One excellent way to do this is to make sure your local police are members of the NoGraf list at SOme of the finest graffiti cops around the world are members.


What about the graffiti advocates claims of censorship?

Graffiti advocates claim graffiti is art and a form of free expression. By definition though, graffiti is a crime. The graffiti advocates and those of us who are against vandalism believe differently about the pretty pictures or tags that appear on the city walls. Since the graffiti advocates actively trivialize the tragedy of graffiti hoping that graffiti will become a "civilized" activity, one ploy to get sympathy for their cause is to cry foul and claim censorship. Remember that graffiti by definition is illegal. One can assume that since graffiti is illegal the the placement or removal of the graffiti is within the VICTIM's RIGHTS. Censorship is a deceitful tactic used to argue in favor of graffiti. When you hear a graffiti advocate spout deceit-think and claims of censorship, you have to stop and wonder what possesses such a person. Just what is their agenda? Their agenda is to publicly trivialize your objection to the crime.

In July of 1997 I was sent the following email after more than one person expressed concern that a Colorado High School had a graffiti advocate page. Without communicating with me the school district took the page down. I think it was a good decision. Someone, perhaps a teacher or a child author of the page said in the email I received:

"You write - The New Vista High School graffiti advocate site is listed on the notorious Art Crimes web. I question whether the school district really appreciates this kind of association?

The message at the site now reads (as of 7/24/97) "We're sorry. This page has been taken down due to content reasons. The author will be contacted about "cleaning up" the pages as per instructions from higher-ups.

As you pass judgement on what I may wish to view or read or write, I hope you rest easily. Today, my freedoms are being taken away, be assured yours will be tomorrow."

Now consider his logic. as you read how this city public works manager in Rockford, Illinois reacted to this message:

"Freedom? This kid doesn't know the meaning of freedom! I wish I could introduce him to Mrs. Mott (and others like her), here in Rockford, an 80-year old widow with fingers bent and locked with the effects of arthritis. Mrs. Mott thought she had the freedom of having a white garage, until the gangs covered it with their graffiti. She thought she had the freedom to live peacefully in her home with her beloved dog, until the gangs, noticing that she had called the police about the garage, disemboweled the cat from across the street, painted it the gang colors, and hung it in Mrs. Mott's tree. Just because this kid can spit out the word "freedom" does not mean he has any concept of its meaning. Parrots can say "freedom". I'm sorry if I sound angry. I am not. I am furious!!..."

So perhaps the criminal mind or the confused mind does not understand that freedom is not an absolute guarantee that aberrant behavior is protected at the expense of others. Society and schools recognize that celebrating criminal behavior on web pages contributes to the perpetuation of that behavior in the name of that school. This is a free country and we take pride in our freedom. We are also, as Americans, proud of our stand against crime and the behaviors that victimize others. Yes, the school has decided that it will not publish material that is not acceptable reading by its standards. The school has also indirectly said through its action that it will not tolerate a criminal celebration on school servers by a confused misguided minority of students that find victimizing others good reading. Those students will have to go elsewhere to feed their need.

Well isn't the act of speaking against graffiti on the net censorship?
No. I argue that public support of vandalism as akin to yelling fire in a public theatre. When anti-graffiti activists speak out against vandalism we do so with the confidence that we are on the side of law and keeping the graffiti victim's rights in mind. The criminal graffiti vandal has no right to vandalize another's property. The vandal has no right to victimize others. I believe that publicly broadcasting one's support of a crime contributes to the continued success of the crime. That is, the publishing of some materials has serious secondary deleterious effects. A learning institution has a moral obligation to see both sides of an issue but it has no right to contribute to the folk lore and aberrant culture of the criminal or encourage continued criminal behavior intentionally or unintentionally. Because we live in America we have to tolerate poor judgement when no law applies. Certainly if real censorship existed Art Crimes and its drone pages would have been history long ago. Someone saw educational value behind Art Crimes that frankly escaped me. If Georgia Tech University decided not to embellish crime in this fashion they could certainly discuss it in class or deal with it locally on their intra-net. The messages of the graffiti advocates are frequently of a threatening nature. Their attitude when confronted about their beliefs is one of fight or flight. When they go public they are suddenly faced with criticism. That's not something they enjoy so again a ploy that feigns censorship is used. Their behavior is predictable. The graffiti advocate will obfuscate the central issue of vandalism and victimization by re-directing public attention to an unrelated subject - censorship. Graffiti advocates are among the worst of censors. Where on their web pages are victims given the opportunity to speak?

What are secondary effects?
"Secondary effect" is a term frequently applied to activities, or behaviors to define the real meaning of those behaviors or the real effects of the activities on the community. As an example, communities are often faced with complicated issues involving the placement of adult book stores, loud bars, or even ball fields where kids play soccer and baseball. The secondary effects of some adult book stores include prostitution, drugs, open sexual solicitation, illicit sexual behavior in the bushes close to the store etc. The point is, a certain activity, or action, or gathering point attracts or promotes other raunchy undesirable behavior. In the case of the ball fields, neighbors can feel victimized by the endless noise associated with hearing game, after game. The ball field lights may keep them awake. Every activity has some secondary effects and the secondary effects of a particular activity may be more serious than another. I believe the secondary effect of publishing graffiti advocate web pages is to perpetuate the tragedy of the crime. Graffiti is not a victimless crime. Creating an advocate page says that you don't care how the picture got there, how much it cost the victim to clean up, how the activity eventually destroyed an entire neighborhood, or how it keeps passengers out of the subway. The list goes on and on.

Wasn't the elimination of "legal walls" or "ignored walls" censorship?
Hardly. The graffiti advocate won a battle years ago when some communities caved in to their pressure and provided the vandals places to paint with the mutual understanding the legal walls were the only places they could and would paint. It didn't work. Vandalism increased in the immediate area by incredible amounts. When you don't live up to an agreement you lose privileges. It is that simple. This concept goes back to child hood for most of us. (So what did you do when your teacher took the ball away or your mother sent you to your room? ) Censorship is again a disguised ploy for empathy and nothing more. It is an utterly irresponsible claim made emotionally without presence of mind. It is illogical and not befitting the honor of an American educational institution or an American who was born in to freedom.


What about joining an Anti-Graffiti Organization?
There are a few things you should consider before joining any organization that purports to provide you with anything, be it knowledge, experience, or a place to network with others. A number of off-the-wall groups have appeared on the Internet over the years. Graffiti removal is now popular with many volunteer organizations and cities. Unscrupulous people take your money claiming to provide helpful services and and actually provide little or nothing in return. It is a sad state of affairs but this happens in virtually every volunteer activity. In the late 90's you found some organizations touting questionable products and services. There are some organizations that do a great job and accomplish their purpose, and there are others that simply take advantage. Thankfully now in the 2000's many very-good graffiti removal services are now available and some community anti-graffiti programs have matured into excellent programs. The need for external anti-graffiti programs (other than my favorite not-for-profit the NoGraf Network) has diminished. Consider the following before you join:

  1. Does the organization provide anything for your membership or are they just taking your money? This may seem rather obvious, but people have been taken by slick mailings and loud promisees.
    • Expect a regular newsletter at an absolute minimum. A large organization should expect to do a monthly newsletter of at least 6 to 8 pages. If you never hear from the group again you have lost your cash. Caveat emptor.
  2. What is it that you expect from your membership and can this organization actually help? What do you expect to receive in return and will it benefit you? Will the organization you are considering membership in help you answer these questions?
    • Graffiti abatement is a localized activity. The approach one group takes toward the problem can be completely different from another and these approaches are often based on local community political, social, and business concerns. Any organization you contract with or join should be interested in hearing about your specific circumstances. Walk away if they are selling one point of view. (Note I don't mean the vendors of abatement products. It is up to you to decide whether an abatement product fits in to your program. Most reputable vendors WILL listen to your concerns and try to tailor the sale of their product to your circumstances. Reputable vendors know the value of neighborhood organizations and will do their best not to interfere or be the cause of any interest conflicts. vendors that don't seem to care don't deserve your business.)
    • When the group you join is out town or out of state, decide (based on what you get for membership) , whether the membership is valuable.
    • The information you receive from the group should help you make better decisions about your own program.
    • The information you receive should help educate you on global abatement issues.
    • The information you receive should be full of references to other abatement programs and the success or failure of those programs.
    • The information you receive should discuss the products available to volunteers and abatement professionals BY NAME. While you might not expect a non-profit organization to endorse one product over another the group CAN present the technical findings of the membership without fear of stepping on any toes. Vendors APPRECIATE this kind of feed back.
  3. Avoid sending money to a group that uses the money to further their own point of view UNLESS you also believe in that point of view. Some groups collect monies to further their own agenda and you may only get periodic reports as to how successful they have been. In terms of meeting a local abatement effort membership in such a group should have excellent global political or social benefits otherwise save your money.
  4. A condition of membership should not mean that the organization is permitted to ride on the wave of your own success. Joining does not imply endorsement of the group. An endorsement must come from you and it is your decision not anyone else's.
  5. Consider the leaders of the group. Do they have standing? Have they a reputation for excellence or are the leaders unknown to you? An organization with hidden leaders may have an ulterior motive. Worse yet, is the group run by ego's or hot heads with their own agenda? Even in a local volunteer group, some volunteer leaders can emerge as dominant, demanding, and uncooperative unless you always agree with them. National organizations are no different. Ask around. talk to others. Decide for yourself whether you should join based on who leads the organization.
  6. Is the organization you are considering actually selling something else to members, like insurance, travel discounts, or other benefits you might find in the weekly grocery section of your newspaper. If they are, they are not interested in graffiti abatement, only your money.
  7. Will the organization allow you to exercise your right to discuss any aspect of the graffiti problem? Are you asked not to do anything specific? Ask before you join. You may find that the group's leadership does not appreciate your point of view. Non-profit groups especially should expect that members will have the freedom to speak as they please.
  8. Will product vendors be asked to speak or contribute to a newsletter? The vendors have valuable insight and deserve the opportunity to tell you about their product without the group feeling like it has endorsed one product over another. The worry over product endorsement is handled simply by encouraging all vendors to submit information to the group and for the individuals of the group to make up their own minds. Vendors should be allowed to take part in meetings and conferences and be encouraged to pay for booth space and contribute door prizes or other services. The organization should welcome the commercial support. In the world of abatement you will find many commercial organizations getting involved to various degrees. Involving business in social and community concerns is a necessary part of the abatement effort since EVERYONE is a graffiti victim. Businesses that operate abatement programs should be seen as respected members of the group and have the same standing of any other member. When the group you are considering seems to worry too much about how they will be perceived if vendors or commercial enterprises are involved with the group be cautious about joining. Expect a rational reason for excluding business, because I can't think of one. Involving business is absolutely necessary to the success of any abatement program or group. National abatement groups should even encourage a vendor representative to sit on their Board of Directors! (This organizational model is very common.) And be reasonable about what you can expect from business! Just because someone owns a business does not mean they can afford to give thousands of dollars to your group. Be happy with volunteers and loans of equipment or services.
  9. Consider starting a local abatement group where many volunteer groups can attend meetings and learn via a newsletter about local issues. This may be all you need. Local groups can hold annual volunteer appreciation conferences. The finest example of any group like this is the anti-graffiti organization in the City of San Jose, CA.
  10. Any group you join should be made up primarily of community groups, homes associations, and private persons interested in graffiti abatement. Conferences should have inexpensive booths where neighborhood groups can show off their abatement programs. This means that prices for participation in conferences or various levels of membership should reflect the income of those potential members. If you think you might be paying too much, you probably are.
  11. Be wary of a wolf in sheep's clothing. Some industry or political representatives may have a vested interest or personal preference in controlling responses to public problems. (In particular, some paint companies have a vested interest in preventing ordinances that require lock-up of aerosol paints sold by their distributors.) Their response may not be in the best interest of the community. In order for graffiti abatement to work everyone in the community must work together honestly and without pretense. The community must find the approach that works for them and stick to it. Ask any new organization's directors who they work for and why they are doing what they are doing. Where does their funding come from? Whose interests have they supported or represented in the past? What is their political motivation?


How do the vandal's parents feel? What do they know?
I received a very sad but revealing letter from the parent of a 25 year old graffiti vandal in a major American city. here is what his dad said about his son and the An Anti-Graffiti Web page:

"Dear Doug, You are RIGHT! As the parent of a 25 year old graffiti addict, I can say I`ve experienced two sides of this moronic, childish vandalism. My property has been hit a few times, but now a "town- watch" group keeps an eye on things. My son, who is out of town these days due to a warrant for his arrest, has argued PRO graffiti, and at other times, admitted that it was like an obsession, and that the risk of getting caught provided a "high" for him. Years ago, we took him to a shrink, who basically gave us a "boys will be boys" speech. One of his all time great achievements was having the [major metropolitan newspaper] print his "work" on their front page. He was in heaven! Unfortunately, I fear he may end up in heaven or elsewhere prematurely, as he and his fellow vandals love to scale difficult obstacles to place their scrawlings up high, where they`ll be noticed. One thing my son did tell me which I believe is true: if we remove the graffiti as soon as possible (IMMEDIATELY) then the thrill is gone, and we must do that repeatedly until the little jerks get frustrated and go elsewhere. Keep up the fine work, and don`t let the vandals get you down. Best Wishes"
Why is graffiti on the Internet so abhorrent to the anti-graffiti activist?
The graffiti web sites (graffiti galleries & graffiti supply mail-order houses) are key components of the hip-hop graffiti culture. This culture is a "group", and psychologists, in describing the dynamics of any group, have developed a model called the "group dynamics engine." This group dynamics engine has four components:

(1) interaction
(2) sentiment
(3) consensus
(4) and norms

These four dynamics can be visualized in four boxes, as processes, linked by clockwise arrows, where:

(1) interaction begets sentiment,
(2) which begets consensus
(3) which begets norms (Deviance defined down)
(4) which influences interaction ... and then the next round of the dynamics.

This "engine" is facilitated by the graffiti web sites, and ultimately results in behavior, which includes graffiti on walls. Because of this, anti-graffiti activists consider the graffiti-advocate web sites to be as abhorrent as graffiti vandalism, and perhaps more so. This abhorrence includes emotions like, shock, outrage, and acute disbelief when a major university or other educational institution like Georgia Tech that gave server space until 1999 to the graffiti advocates. Free speech was not intended by our fore fathers to be used as a smoke screen for advocating cult-like criminal behavior. Graffiti is a behavior that has VICTIMS, something the administration of Georgia Tech completely over looked. The graffiti advocates don't talk about the billions of dollars lost every year or the emotional ruin a victim experiences when their property is destroyed by the graffiti vandals. All of that is overlooked on the graffiti advocate sites in order to foster and protect and achieve notoriety for their group dynamics. The group dynamics of a criminal organization. As the Internet grew and social networking websites developed suddenly any vandal had an Internet location to put up his or her vandalism for all to see. What began on a few graffiti advocate sites sponsored in 1995 has now greatly expanded worldwide. Parents of children living at home, you now have an obligation to know what social networking sites your child uses and what content he or she ads to that site. When you see graffiti you should be asking questions. The Internet culture of the graffiti vandal has changed and expanded between 1995 and 2008. It is up to you to intervene with your child before the police do. The police are looking for graffiti vandals on the Internet as well.

Profile of a Tagger

Some indications that your child may be a tagger are:

  • Your child stays out until early morning or all night.
  • Your child frequently wears a large back pack or baggy pants. Clothing may be paint stained. Packs and loose clothing can be used to hold paint cans or carry graffiti tools.
  • Your child carries tools used for etching glass like hole punches, rocks, glass cutters, screw drivers, awls, metal scribes or other sharp object. (Your child may not be able to explain exactly why he or she has this in their possession.
  • Your child has taken up the hobby of ink making.
  • Your child has large quantities of magic markers, shoe polish containers, or other devices used for drawing.
  • Your child sleeps during the day and is active outdoors at night.
  • Your child has paint on the tips of his/her fingers.
  • Your child frequently has permanent marker stains on his/her hands.
  • Your child has graffiti magazines, flyers, a "piece book," or other portfolio of tags.
  • Your child possesses large quantities of "My Name Is" stickers or other large stickers used for "sticker tagging."
  • Your child is in possession of graffiti paraphernalia such as markers, etching tools, spray paint, bug spray and starch cans. The bug spray cans are used to make tags that will only show up in the rain.
  • Your child is in the age group statistically associated with tagging, ages 12-18 (sometimes older).
  • Your child has graffiti displays or tags on clothing, binders, backpacks, and the underside of the bill of their hat.
  • Tags you see on the walls of your neighborhood are seen on your child's walls, books, and clothing.
  • Your child is frequently deceitful about his/her activities.
  • Your child has quantities of paint in cans but does not have the income to afford it.
  • Your child associates with other children with the traits described above.
  • Your child's Internet web browser has bookmarks to graffiti advocate web sites.
  • Your child has photographs of graffiti and tags on walls that look familiar to you.
  • Your child actively reads the alt.graffiti newsgroup.

Remember that taggers come from every race, religion,
social group, as well as from every socioeconomic status.

"Profile of a Tagger," taken in part from "The Walls of San Jose" newsletter, published by the City of San Jose, California, Parks Recreation & Neighborhood Services, Anti-Graffiti Program, Issue No. 9, Winter 1997. The program's address is Anti-Graffiti Program, c/o Director, 501 Vine Street, San Jose, CA 95110.

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  The Anti-Graffiti FAQ, copyright & EDS Design, 1995-2009. Permission is granted to quote and reprint as long as credit is given to Doug Smith, Huntingtown, MD
Updated January 13, 2008 / [email protected]