Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The graffiti menace

Landowners in the 10th ward of Minneapolis, Minnesota, are working to eradicate graffiti. Senator Linda Berglin agreed to introduce Senate File 194, right. The General Membership of the Lyndale Neighborhood Association endorsed unanimously Senator Berglin's continuing efforts to eradicate graffiti.[1]

Graffiti taggers are a menace throughout Minneapolis. In 2006, according to Sgt. Donna Olson, graffiti investigator with the Minneapolis Police Department, "the city sees more than 175,000 new tags, or graffiti markings, every year."[2] Cleanup "costs the city and its propery owners $2.5 million annually."[3] Yet, the City Attorney admitted to the Mayor and Council, "We know that the number of cases presented to our Office ... are just a very small percentage of the total number of incidents of graffiti."[4]

Prosecutions for graffiti offenses are rare, even when those who oppose graffiti are attacked.[5] Why can so may graffiti vandals do so much damage to property with so little fear of the law? The reason is simple. When incarceration is threatened, the U.S. Constitution requires an eye witness to convict. That makes it a game of Hide-n-Seek for which the Office of City Attorney is ill equipped.

- - - - -
[1] 23 April 2007. Initially, Senator Berglin introduced Senate File 587 (session 2007). Concerns raised by the City Attorney were addressed and incorporated by Senate Counsel into Senate File 3760 (session 2008), which was re-introduced as Senate File 194 (session 2009-2010).
[2] Sara Schweid. "Time allowed for graffiti cleanup halved," Minnesota Daily, 24 May 2006, p. 10
[3] Tom Horgen. "Leaving their mark across the metro," Star Tribune, 14 Oct. 2006, p. A8
[4] Susan L. Segal, City Attorney. Email to Mayor et al., 11 march 2009.
[5] Steve Brandt. "Fight against tagging leads to graffiti attack on Fairy Godmother," Star Tribune, 12 July 2007, p. B4