Thursday, July 3, 2008
Tag you're it
We've got a graffiti problem in Middletown, and it isn't getting better.
Walk a block in any direction from Main Street and you're bound to spot a "tag." The city's procedure is for citizens who see graffiti is to call and report it to the police department so it will be recorded, and then to call the Public Works departments (sometimes repeatedly) so that they will remove it.
Middletown is obviously making some effort to control the problem. Witness paint overs on highway substructure on DeKoven Dr./East Main.
But if the quantity and frequency of the tagging is any indication, the city may not be pursuing the problem agressively.
If the experience of other cities is of any value, what begins as a nuisance blossoms into a plague. In addition, some public safety officials have denied that there is any gang connection to the graffiti. My own gut tells me that when I see "Blood" scrawled on an abandoned truck trailer, I should at least be suspicious that the notorious gang of the same name is making inroads to a city where narcotics are also a problem.
While eradicating graffiti is nearly impossible, other cities have had some success in stemming the problem using a variety of techniques, including:
- writing a graffiti ordinance (I can't find one in Middletown's code)
- apprehending taggers and prosecuting
- making taggers and their parents financially responsible for cleanup
- getting rid of tags immediately though cleaning or paintovers
- setting up a graffiti reporting line
- enlist business owners in combating the problem
- hold property owners responsible for cleaning graffiti on their premises
As one anti-graffiti website says, the difference between art and vandalism is permission. And there is no tagger in Middletown who is making any aesthetic advances.
All the photos here were taken within one hour on a morning walk around the city. Some of the identical tags can be seen at several locations. What's published here is less than half of what I saw and photographed.