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Should Graffiti be Considered Vandalism?

Nyah Tomala, The Pulse of the Street

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Graffiti has a long prominent history in the art culture. People see this as a valuable form of art and expression. Others see this an act of crime. This at times can be controversial. The term “graffiti” originally comes from “graffiato”. This is an Italian word that means “scratched”. The earliest account during the 20th century of where and how the graffiti took place in was located in Washington Heights. Even though this form of art is dated back to Ancient Rome it was later popularized by Demetraki. He was a New York City messenger that tagged on surfaces around the city. His tagged name was Taki183. Taki being a short nickname and 183 being the street he lived on. It quickly became mainstream and is constantly associated with the hip hop culture to this day.

       When hearing the word “ graffiti” some think it as negative. These people consider it a burden and vandalism at its worse. In one article ‘Graffiti is Always Vandalism’ written by ,Thomas W. Smith Fellow at the Manhattan Institute, and a contributing editor of City Journal,Heather MacDonald she proclaims her utter distaste for graffiti. She goes off on a rant addressing the topic. According to MacDonald, “By definition it is committed without permission on another person’s property, in an adolescent display of entitlement. Whether particular viewers find any given piece of graffiti artistically compelling is irrelevant. Graffiti’s most salient characteristic is that it is a crime.” Her view is compelling to many. Graffiti as she declares is a crime that defaces personal property without consent of the owner. She is able to provide evidence of her claim by stating, “John Lindsay, the progressive New York politician who served as mayor from 1966 to 1973, declared war on graffiti in 1972. He understood that graffiti signaled that informal social controls and law enforcement had broken down in New York’s public spaces, making them vulnerable to even greater levels of disorder and law-breaking.” John Lindsay saw this as an increase in crime and there being no boundaries. Lindsay, who was involved in politics, would understand organization needs to be amongst the people or else others won’t have a limit to know what is wrong.

  There are people who are open minded to having graffiti cover the surface of public areas. In the article ‘Graffiti Is a Public Good, Even As It Challenges the Law’ written by Lu Olivero it describes the positive outcomes graffiti brings to the community. Oliver’s states, “In Brazil, during late 1990s, it was common for graffiti artists to be harassed or shot at by the police. Today, many of the same officers support graffiti initiatives for city beautification, and as a crime deterrent. They understand that graffiti can be a career opportunity for youth in low-income neighborhoods. The growth of graffiti in Brazil, and its role in challenging the status quo, demonstrates the power of art, and its ability to create dialogue.” This form of art has challenged some views of the public. It has even altered the way police officers treated these graffiti artists. Instead of vandalism it is seen as art that speaks for itself. It expresses how others feel just like many other forms of art.

   Graffiti is seen as art, vandalism and even both at times. Either way it has made an impact on modern day culture. Some may praise it while others may wish to abolish it for good.

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The Voice of Every Woodlands Student
Should Graffiti be Considered Vandalism?