Civil Discourse Now

Where the far left and far right overlap for fun and enlightenment

Concerned about the anti-graffiti ordinance.

   We were at a party in Chicago in the spring of 1983, as I recall. I had moved to the City with very little experience in large population centers. I had learned that people "tagged" buildings and that while some of the graffiti was art for the sake of art, albeit on the sides of buildings or other structures, the owners of which had were little enthused about what had been spray-painted during the night, much of the graffiti was gang-related. Gangs tagged walls to mark territory.

   The party was in a walled-in backyard just off Lincoln Park. The area was nice. Still, it was the City. Some dumbass from our party of eight or ten had left unlatched the door (really, it was a door) built into the wall. Three kids in their early teens tried the knob, apparently, and sauntered into the party. There was a boom box on a table. I think we had The Beatles on. One of the kids reached over, switched from tape (yes, it was the age of cassettes) and turned to a rap station. The kids continued to talk amongst themselves and ignored our presence. I was pissed off and started to walk over and say something, but one of the other guests was a former bouncer and grabbed my arm. She (yes, "she" had been a bouncer and was not a person with whom I would have messed) whispered, "Don't." We waited for about five or six minutes and, finally, they left. The door was closed as soon as they were out. I should add the top of the wall had broken glass imbedded in it, as a sort of wall above the wall. Concertina wire, in that neighborhood I guess, was a faux pas.

   I related these experiences because the City-County Council has proposed to fine property owners who do not remove graffiti from structures after a complaint has been filed. If the "artists" of the graffiti had executed a mural meant to express some aesthetic understanding of a part of existence, its placement on another person's building would be wrong, but removal would be without retaliation.

   Most of the graffiti in question is of a different type and its removal bears serious consequences. If people remove gang tags, they risk injury or death.

   It is cheaper, however, for the City to require property owners to bear the weight of enforcement of an ordinance like this. Tax monies need to be spent on welfare for billionaire sports owners. We even need cricket on the East side. So if the City can shove responsibility and enforcement onto the citizens, why not? Of course, this would mean people might be beaten and shot.

   This ordinance is pathetic. It punishes the victim and rewards poor City leadership.

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