Zero-Tolerance policies

South Shore Mural a Shining Beacon in Chicago’s Sea of Bureaucracy and Brown Paint

Chicago, Illinois, is a city with a deep division over public art. A case in point: The city’s controversial “Graffiti Blasters”  abatement program, which for the past 21 years has criminalized street artists and muralists, by linking aerosol expression of any kind with gang violence. Introduced in 1993, the same year as the classic hip-hop albums “Midnight Marauders” and “93 Til Infinity,” Graffiti Blasters – the name sounds like a lightweight racist take on the term “ghetto blaster” – became…

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It’s Time to Rethink Graffiti Abatement Strategies

The answer to the graffiti problem isn’t throwing money down the abatement black hole or instituting stricter zero-tolerance policies. Any viable solution must revolve around the creation of sound, forward-thinking policy which avoids knee-jerk reactionism and repeating mistakes which have been made in the past. San Jose’s example shows that permanent reductions in graffiti vandalism through zero tolerance measures aren’t sustainable, and that with current abatement strategies, sometimes you get less than you pay for.

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