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Graffiti is vandalism, not art
Keep Liberty Beautiful
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Recently, we were trying to paint over an act of vandalism on a busy local street. We are fairly lucky compared to many communities in that graffiti is not a constant issue here. It is still a significant problem that hurts our communities.  
You’ve probably seen graffiti somewhere in your community. It is often words, colors and shapes painted or scratched on buildings, overpasses, train cars, desks and other surfaces. It is done without permission of the property owners and it is against the law. It is vandalism and is the most common type of property vandalism (35 percent), according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.  
“Graffiti” comes from the greek “graphein” which means “to write”. Unfortunately, most of the graffiti I’ve seen was written by people who think graffiti means to write ugly, obscene and offensive words and pictures. I am sure that there are some silly “graffiti artists” (I use the word loosely) who think they are exercising their right to “free expression.” Ha! There is nothing free about vandalism. It costs governments and property owners to clean up that free expression.
Graffiti also has other costs for a community. It hurts neighborhoods and their residents. It sends the signal that nobody cares about the area. Unfortunately, acts of vandalism that go unaddressed tend to attract other crime and street delinquency. Several studies have validated this “broken windows theory.” Lesser crimes, such as littering and other vandalism, create an atmosphere that encourages more serious activities. Graffiti and these other crimes create a world that threatens the sense of security of residents. Graffiti also hurts property values and can inhibit business.
Thank goodness for concerned citizens, such as Verlean Malden and her husband, Craig, who stopped by to help as we hurried to cover the offensive graffiti before a local school bus rode by. The Maldens are shining examples of citizens, who make the effort to care for their neighborhood. It takes concerned neighbors and groups, like Neighborhood Watch, to stop vandalism. Removal within 48 hours is one of the keys to graffiti prevention.  
Here are additional ideas to fight graffiti:
1. Get educated. Learn about graffiti and how it impacts your community.
2. Report graffiti to authorities.
3. Organize a paint-out of graffiti.  Keep Liberty Beautiful can help provide supplies.
4. Plan a mural — with an owner’s permission — for an area plagued by graffiti. Call the KLB office for ideas and information.
5.“Adopt an area” at your school or in the community and make sure it stays clean. Taking ownership of an area deters crimes.
6. Plant trees or other greenery near a graffiti-plagued wall so it is harder to get to by vandals.
7. See if additional lighting can be installed in dark, graffiti-ridden areas.
8. Be aware of what is happening in your neighborhood. Join with neighbors and Neighborhood Watch. Look out for people who seem to be loitering in graffiti-prone areas. They may be scoping the location.
It does not take creativity to paint offensive words and pictures on a wall. So, graffiti vandals, the next time you get an urge to express yourself, why don’t you get out a sheet of construction paper and some crayons and let her rip!

Upcoming KLB events that need you:
Quarterly Recycle It! Fair coming up on June 20!
For more information or to volunteer, contact Keep Liberty Beautiful at 368 4888 or

For more information on Keep Liberty Beautiful programs, contact Swida at 368-4888 or
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