Sunday, April 5, 2009

Grass-roots support

Landowners in the 10th ward are working with Senator Linda Berglin to amend Minnesota's graffiti statute. The General Membership of Lyndale Neighborhood Association endorsed unanimously Senator Berglin's efforts to eradicate graffiti in Minneapolis.

Despite grass-roots support, those who represent the Lyndale neighborhood - Jeff Hayden and Frank Hornstein - refuse to introduce Senator Berglin's graffiti bill into the House. Their refusal to support the Lyndale neighborhood ensures that Senator Berglin's graffiti bill is denied a public hearing. The will of the voters is silenced while an election is in play.

Senator Berglin's graffiti bill will force vandals to accept consequences for bad behavior. The penalty is a fine, much like a parking ticket. However, court records are open to the public. Civil lawsuits would be made much simpler for victims who choose to sue. Triple damages and attoney fees are allowed by law. The sting will very quickly make graffiti an expensive habit.

The City Attorney rarely prosecutes a graffiti offense. The reason is simple. The City Attorney insists that ALL graffit offenses must be charged as a crime. Problem is, all prosecutions for a crime include a threat of incarceration. When incarceration is threatened, the U.S. Constitution requires an eye witness to convict. That makes graffiti a game of Hide-n-Seek for which the Office of City Attorney is ill equipped.

Senator Berglin's bill levels the playing field. It removes the threat of incarceration. A police investigator who is not an eye witness may then present "credible testimony" to identify in an informal hearing who is responsible for the graffiti. Investigative police officers have access to search warrants and snitch money. They would use the same tools that have enabled the courts to convict criminals of all flavors since the founding of the democracy.

The premise underlying Senator Berglin's graffiti bill is approved by both the U.S. Supreme Court and Minnesota Supreme Court. Making graffiti an expensive habit is the only way to solve the problem.

The Graffiti Task Force
of the Lyndale neighborhood
Minneapolis, Minnesota USA

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