Ashley Ray- Tasco Post University
Since I was about twelve or thirteen, I remember taking the Amtrak train from the train station in New Haven, CT. To 30th Street Station in Philadelphia to visit my father, grandmother, step brother/ sister and step mom. The ride there was about three and a half to four hours, providing plenty of scenery in route. Riding through New York and into Philadelphia there was always graffiti; on the buildings, on the walls, bridges, billboards, dumpsters wherever the tagger felt his/her name should be. Some of these buildings were really high, I would often wonder to myself, “Who was the person responsible? When and why did they mark up these places? What gratification did they get out of it? Trying to get a better understanding of the meaning and the motive behind graffiti, it seemed to me as a form of visual communication since there is usually some kind of message behind the markings on the walls. Although there are some styles graffiti that look very artistic, to me it is still vandalism. It depreciates the value of property, it is costly to remove, and it is very much considered a crime.
Graffiti is unwelcoming in most neighborhoods and communities. It is like a visual form of communication; whether good or bad it’s usually sending a message; it may send the message that no one cares about the community which in some cases can be seen as gang related, and possibly criminal activity in the area. A person who is investing their money into a business or a home they do not wish to be fearful, worried, or concerned about the area they reside in This causes the property value of home or business owners to decrease because it discourages home buyers to buy or shoppers to shop in that area. Also if a seller is trying to sell property in a area that is marked with graffiti, a seller would eventually have to lower the selling price of the property because no one is interested in buying property in vandalized areas. Zsako (2011) notes that according the National Associates of Realtors, home values that are plagued by graffiti can lose it value by up to fifteen percent. This is a big loss for property owners.
Not only dos graffiti cause property value to decrease, it is very costly to be removed. Depending on the state and its laws the property may be fined for not removing the graffiti in a timely manner. According to Rochelle Knops (3M marketing administrator) commercial buildings are the most frequent targets—especially those visible areas where all can view the taggers’ work. McCrea (2002) she also notes that nationwide commercial property managers and owners have to deal with graffiti every day and the problem is not getting any better. In 1990 the cost of graffiti removal went from $5 billion dollar to about $10-$12 million dollars (2002). It’s bad to see all this money going to waste just to remove “tags” and marking because people want to be rebellious and mark up private property. The money that is spent in the cities can go to more important things for the city such as, education (school system), city parks, which is sad but they get vandalized also, after school programs for children, and or music and sports programs for kids. It could be used for any type of enrichment program that would benefit our children. The money can also be used to create a place for children and young adults who like to practice graffiti be in an environment where they can actually learn about art and give them opportunities to perform their skills in a more artistic way rather than vandalizing illegally.
Vandalism is no doubt a crime and against the law graffiti is no doubt vandalism. There are different form and styles of graffiti to make it appear more like art work, but most graffiti is done on public or private property without permission. If one is seen tagging, marking, spray paint, or marking any territory that they are not supposed to law enforcement