Rudy Giuliani Gets Tough on New York Graffiti

When it comes to graffiti, I feel pretty neutral.  I can see the issue from both sides

We have discussed this issue in a somewhat positive manner and I thought it would be interesting to take a look at this issue from the opposite side of the fence.  New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani was quoted saying  “Graffiti… is an attack on our communities and our quality of life… Graffiti intimidates residents. It encourages street gangs. It discourages tourists, lowers property values, and invites other kinds of crime” (Quoted in Murray and Murray, 2002, Broken Windows: Graffiti NY).

Here is an exerpt from an article about the fight against graffiti written by TM Wolf:

“In an attempt to choke off the writers’ supplies, the Giuliani administration introduced new controls on the sale of spray paint and certain broad-tipped markers. Under these new provisions, codified in Title 10-117.1 of the NYC Administrative Law Code, writing implements popular with graffiti artists could not be sold to minors or displayed in unlocked places. Meanwhile, the NYPD introduced a new Anti-Graffiti Vandal Squad to patrol the City’s streets for any writers who did manage to get their hands on Krylon and Sharpies. This squad, which remains active to this day, employed “computer tracking, confidential informants, painstakingly gathered intelligence, and seemingly endless surveillance” to catch graffiti artists in the act of writing.

Over the course of its struggles with the writing community, the City has taken pages from the style books of the graffiti artists to advance its own interests. The City has used the “all-over” graffiti aesthetic to create new opportunities for commercial advertising in city spaces. As graffiti artist E20 recently pointed out, “You see the way they are wrapping city buses with advertisements. That all comes from graffiti… from the trains. Which is like a hypocrisy… like we couldn’t do it but they can because they are making money out of it” (quoted in Murray and Murray, 2002, n.p.). Public buses now travel through the City’s crowded streets, covered in advertisements that add further layers of visual material to the City’s screaming, neon-lit commercial palimpsest. Here is the address to read the whole article

All the discussions on graffiti in the last class made me think about a SNL skit that was done a few years back about New York graffiti hosted by Rudy Giuliani.  I actually think is method of combating graffiti in this skit is better than any real law enforcing technique.  I can’t figure out how to add the video so here is the url for the video:


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