Interview from http://www.graffitiremovalpdx.org
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Recently, Portland's Graffiti Removal Program has become a model for other cities looking to implement similar programs. As unfortunate as it is that such programs need to exist, we're proud to be able to help other communities by sharing what we've learned over the past 3 years. We have provided help to the surrounding cities of Beaverton, Tualitan and Vancouver as well as to cities as far away as New Jersey City.
Interview with Portland's Graffiti Prevention Coordinator
Crew member, Rangsahn caught up with Hugh McDowell, Graffiti Prevention Coordinator for the City of Portland to ask a few questions.
Q: I understand your position was created a year and a half ago. Why was that necessary?
A: Graffiti in Portland was getting worse and the Graffiti Task Force,a group of agencies and organizations put together by the mayor to combat graffiti, had suggested the need for a centralized person to coordinate efforts throughout the city. The mayor said “prove it to me” and when they did, the mayor said “You’re right.’ So (the mayor) created the position to coordinate efforts in terms of graffiti abatement, education and enforcement throughout the city.
Q: Who is doing graffiti in Portland?
A: The profile of the taggers, that’s what we call the vandals who are doing graffiti, is white male, aged 13-24, from fairly affluent families. This is regarding what we call tagger, as opposed to gang, graffiti. It’s pretty much a youth oriented crime.
Q: What happens when people are caught doing graffiti?
A: The penalties usually involve community service and a fine. In severe cases, where the monetary damage is high, there can be jail time.
Q: What can businesses do to prevent being tagged?
A: Studies show that if you clean it up right away, and match the paint as closely as possible, there’s less likelihood of it coming back. By understanding the reason behind tagging, which is to be seen by as many people in as many places as possible, you can see that by cleaning it up right away they’re eventually going to stop.
Q: How can we end graffiti?
A: The most important thing to do is to clean up graffiti right away. Second is to educate the public so that they understand what their role in this is. It’s also very helpful to report taggers if you see them in action.. I don’t know that we can totally stop graffiti but we can certainly control it.