TAGGING IS EVIL. How do we stop it?

A small number of our fellow human beings do horrible things sometimes. Though there are far “worse” crimes, the offense that for some reason infuriates us more than almost anything is graffiti vandalism, aka “tagging.” This morning, our blood pressure is somewhere in the stratosphere because of what we just saw in the Junction.

First, there’s the tagging on the Hi-Yu parade mural on the side of the post office. An e-mail tipster told us about this a couple weeks ago, and we didn’t get around to checking it out immediately. Looking at it this morning, with the Saturday sun blazing against the beautiful mural and the hideous black scrawl across its lower left quadrant, we fumed.

Moments later, heading back down California, we saw an even fresher example of this type of brazen, pointless vandalism — tagging on several business signs on the west side of Cali Ave, including WaMu, Radio Shack, and Be’s Restaurant.

We’ve tried to figure out why tagging pisses us off worse than some of the more newsworthy crimes that involve blood, pain, and prison time. Perhaps it’s partly because the evidence is so public and flagrant — it takes time and money to arrange to have tagging/graffiti vandalism painted over, and until/unless you get that time and money, the crime scene just sits there, smirking at you. (Outside WS, a particularly galling recent example is a huge tag that appeared this week across the side of a classic brick building that’s highly visible to thousands of drivers daily as they drive northbound on the viaduct, into the Battery Street Tunnel. That type of vandalism can’t just be painted over, without ruining the beautiful old brick. Don’t even know if sandblasting will get rid of it.)

Anyway, the fact is, this morning the Junction is uglier, because of some idiot criminal(s) who decided to sneak onto business roofs, no doubt in the middle of the night, and deface signs. It feels like they’re spitting in the faces of the business owners and all those of us who live here and will have to look at it for who knows how long. (We volunteered for graffiti paintout patrols long ago and far away; do they still exist?)

Far from the first time, and we suppose it won’t be the last time. Is security too lax? Are the laws too loose? How do we stop this? We’ll be thinking hard about it. We hope you will too.

9 Replies to "TAGGING IS EVIL. How do we stop it?"

  • The House August 5, 2006 (12:22 pm)

    I’ve been quiet for weeks, but crime in WS is something I’m passionate about!

    I haven’t seen the damage yet, but from what you describe it’s a shame. Some tagging is done from gangs, but the majority of it is simply kids trying to create an identity for themselves. Although it is a petty crime, it is expensive to business owners and taxpayers and should be punished accordingly.

    It’s difficult to catch taggers, but I’m sure our local PD checked to see if the business owners across the street had cameras on. Unfortunately, the only way to catch them is after the fact.

  • Marge Carpenter August 5, 2006 (2:14 pm)

    Not sure if this is where you volunteered, but SPU has a website with guidelines & ph#s to call if you see graffiti on either public or private property:

  • West 5 Dave August 5, 2006 (4:20 pm)

    The WS Junction Association has scheduled clean up of the graffiti tags on California Ave commencing Tuesday Aug 8th. There is still some deliberation about how to restore the mural on the Post Office.

    Graffiti tags are an ongoing problem in our business district. The Junction merchants recently spent thousands of dollars to clean up graffiti tags on the East side of California, only to turn around three weeks later and do the same kind of clean-up on the West side of California Ave.

    I have personally chased away three taggers in the few years my biz has been open. I even had the satisfaction of witnessing the arrest and the eventual persecution of a notorious local tagger (and he still lives, works, and presumably tags, in our community).

    While we are fortunate that incidents of graffiti are not related to gang activity, we certainly can not sit by passivly and allow these miscreants and vandals to continually deface & damage our community.

    Keep your eyes peeled WS, and immediately report any possible nefarious activity to our friends at the SW Precinct by calling 911.


  • Lach August 9, 2006 (4:49 pm)

    Question: what’s the difefrence between the mural and the tag? Unless you own the property, is there a real tangible difference? Just because you don’t understand it, doesn’t mean it’s not art (or EVIL!).

    Some of these tags are art (some are gang markers, others still are purely mindless). Artistic tags are not exactly evil, some of them display a culture in Seattle many people would not otherwise be exposed to.

    Don’t we have better things to worry about?

    “he still lives, works, and presumably tags, in our community”

    Should that guy should be taking up space in jail. Who’s cell should he take, should we let the thief go? Or the rapist?

    Can’t we just paint over the tags and keeep thee police out of it?

  • laugh August 10, 2006 (7:33 am)

    Mural = invited, solicited, wanted.

    Tag = uninvited, unsolicited, unwanted.

    Lach = in dire need of assistance with a rectal-cranial inversion issue.

  • Jan S. August 10, 2006 (4:24 pm)

    the difference between the mural and “art” may not be obvious to you, but I think it may to the rest of the community that views our murals as historical, unique, and something to value. Obviously, this “tagger” doesn’t have the same values as us. If this person is an “artist”, then let him find a more suitable “canvas”, instead of defacing public property. This mural can’t simply be painted over. The artist was commissioned to paint it, and would have to put time and effort (and money) into restoring it. If your argument is valid, I presume you’d have no problems with these individuals tagging the Mona Lisa, or something by Van Gogh…because, after all, what’s the difference?

  • alfonz December 11, 2006 (1:16 am)

    i dont approve of tagging whatsoever but as far as it being evil…well..its a very laughable headline….. one interesting tactic the city of redmond has put to use and is obviously working to the benefit of the community…is a free art wall, where the taggers go and do graffiti.. that wall is run by their parks dept. and has rules and regulated terms of use … ive heard that the city allows them to do their tagging on the basis that if the graffiti spreads to any outlying areas or buisnesses that the wall would be closed..ive also heard that the police use the wall to observe and take pictures of the different taggers while they paint to keep tabs on them……..this is definatly an idea that seattle needs to consider……to keep these punk kids in check!

  • James August 26, 2008 (1:06 pm)

    The “tagging” in the whole Seattle area has gotten really bad as of late. We need harsher laws to prevent it. It’s not Evil? It is nothing less than destruction of property, costing taxpayers and property owners lots of time and money. There should be harsher laws against this stupid fad.

  • kyle November 13, 2008 (1:39 pm)

    Look tagging is no where near being evil. Evil is RAPING a person. I “Tag” myself. I put tag quotations because tagging is a variety of things. Personal life reflections are usually what murals are for. I do not beleive people should deface property but give us a place to throw up some tags. West Seattle has plenty of abandon buildings that could be converted to tag buildings. keep the outside beautiful but let us hit up the inside like there is no tomarrow.

Sorry, comment time is over.