Community Art or Illegal Graffiti?

If you take a drive downtown, or maybe under a bridge, or if you really stay on the lookout while out anywhere, you’ll probably notice graffiti. Lots of this graffiti doesn’t look too nice, and is often done by a couple of mischievous teens or even by members of a local gang. However, some graffiti isn’t just a couple of words or pictures quickly drawn in the night to avoid getting caught, but instead carefully created artwork that can oftentimes be accepted and loved in a community. This was the case at a dog park in South Park. The Dog Owners of Grape Street worked hard to make a beautiful mural at their dog park, where the whole community was involved, only for the City of San Diego to come in and take away all their hard work.

Originally, along the walls of one of the bathrooms at the dog park was an ugly mess of graffiti sprayed on by god knows who. One day, a local to the park by the name of Dale Siscon decided he would take it upon himself to clean up some graffiti with his own creative twist. Before long, many members of the community came to help cover the graffiti with their beautiful artwork including paintings of dogs, the name of the park, and the name of their dog group. This effort helped bring together the already close community so that they could express their love for the park, the dogs, as well as expressing their creative side. However, the city eventually decided that it was enough.

The President of the Dog Owners of Grape Street received a cease and desist letter from the city, and was confronted in person by city workers and park rangers, telling him they couldn’t continue the mural, and they even escorted him out of the park with threats of receiving a citation. Instead of using the thinly stretched city funds for something better, they instead wiped out an adored community project in 12 hours with taxpayer dollars, simply because they didn’t have the permits to paint on city owned buildings. Many argue that a community project like this should be an exception, or that a permit should be issued to them so they can avoid doing anything illegal, no matter how much support that project had. The city had other plans however, and now their beautiful mural is gone because of a small infraction.

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Stuart Y

2 thoughts on “Community Art or Illegal Graffiti?

  1. This graffiti seemed like it was contributing well to the community. It seemed to bring people together. The graffiti by the dog park particularly seemed to allow for bonding of dog parents who already have common interests. Ultimately, city work should aim to make the area a better place for the community. Therefore, if the people like an activity and the artwork it produces in their area, it seems to make sense to have a way for them to voice that would like to endorse a project such as a graffiti-style mural in a public space.

  2. I think that graffiti should not be criminalized in general because it is a form of art. Especially on public property, graffiti often symbolizes public art and expressions of creativity, and brings character to cities often gentrified with cultural significance being erased out of it. Graffiti also has a great deal of cultural significance in minority communities, and hold great sentimental value to small groups of people, especially those in lower-income communities. They do not have any danger, and should be decriminalized.

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