As one travels around the city of New York, he or she may begin to notice that graffiti is all around them, whether it’s in a form of a mural or a simple tag. Some believe that it is a category of art with a unique medium. Others, however, strongly disagree with the idea that graffiti is an art, and instead consider it as vandalism. Graffiti has become a huge problem in New York City to many. It falls under a category of deviance because it is considered a socially unaccepted behavior that violates the norms of society. Graffiti has been viewed as disorder and a sign of social degradation.
There was a rise in graffiti during the 1960s and 1970s in New York City. It emerged as a major issue, carried out by young people, especially those of poor non-white families (Vitale 88). It has cost a great deal of money to restore property ruined by tags and murals on public transportation and buildings. Since this upsurge, the government has taken many measures to regulate vandalism. According to Alex Vitale’s City of Disorder, urban liberalism, in which there was a rise in the middle class, didn’t produce effective results to restore order in regards to graffiti (Vitale 73). One way the government responded to vandalism was by creating strict policies as a part of the “quality of life” development (Vitale 2). William Bratton, commissioner at the New York Police Department, and his fellow members enacted new tactics against crimes. One of them is known as “Reclaiming the Public Spaces of New York,” which addresses the crime of graffiti as an illegal act that should be controlled by punitive policies (Vitale 45). NYPD statistics show that reports on property crime rates, which include graffiti, have decreased by 24.8% in the past ten years (criminaljustice.ny.gov). The government continues to address this quality of life issue by creating new programs, such as the Citywide Vandals Taskforce (nyc.gov). Their mission is to monitor and prevent vandalism in the five boroughs. They have joined with the Transit Bureau, especially because a great number of vandalism is still found in the city’s public transportation. Citizens are able to report damaged property due to graffiti by calling 311. This taskforce continues to enhance their program by creating new ways and tools to track and control graffiti (nyc.gov). There is also an “Eagle Team”, consisting of men and women who work to protect the property of others and reduce the practice of graffiti. Ever since the establishment of the Eagle Team, vandalism rates have been reduced by more than 54% (mta.info). The NYPD offers a $500 award to anyone who knows information on vandals and it has handed out thousands of “Combating Graffiti” posters and brochures (Police Chief Magazine).
Although I agree with most of the policies that the city is enforcing, I also believe that graffiti should not be completely restricted. Strict laws should be imposed on damage to personal property, such as tagging a store window. However, opening up places and warehouses specifically designated for graffiti artists would be a great idea. It is neither damaging personal property nor it is illegal since the owner would allow it. A tactic like this could possibly decrease vandalism if places such as 5Pointz opened up around the city. This way, graffiti artists would have a place to put up their work instead of having to resort to illegal vandalism.
“Criminaljustice.ny.gov Index Crimes Reported to Police by Region: 2002-2011.”
Criminaljustice.ny.gov. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
“Mta.info- MTA’s Eagle Team.” Mta.info. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
“Nyc.gov.” NYPD – Crime Prevention. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Oct. 2012.
“Police Chief Magazine – View Article.” Police Chief Magazine – View Article. N.p., n.d.
Web. 24 Oct. 2012.
Vitale, Alex S. City of Disorder: How the Quality of Life Campaign Transformed New
York Politics. New York, NY: New York UP, 2008. Print