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The Los Angeles City Council is cracking down on graffiti vandalism by doubling the reward for the capture and conviction of vandals who deface public property and increasing the penalties for graffiti vandals who target city murals.
The Los Angeles City Council passed a motion on Tuesday, 14-0 with one council member absent, calling for an increase in the reward for the capture and conviction of graffiti vandals who deface murals from $1,000 to $2,000.
The motion was introduced by Councilman Paul Krekorian, 2nd District, last summer.
According to the motion’s text, the murals must be recognized by the Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs as having historical and cultural significance.
There is some gang graffiti in the southern area of the Wilshire community and graffiti in the Melrose District, according to Mehrnoosh “Nooshi” Zahiri, the neighborhood prosecutor for LAPD’s Wilshire Division.
“My hardest feat with these issues is LAPD’s ability to catch these individuals,” Zahiri said. “We generally only know about the graffiti once it has occurred, at which point, I have to try and focus on getting it cleaned, instead of prosecution. If there was some way of catching these people, [then] that would be great.”
Krekorian is pleased the motion was overwhelmingly approved.
“I’m very happy that the city council approved my plan to crack down on graffiti vandalism and protect our public art. Los Angeles is the mural capital of the world, but graffiti threatens the creative work of our community,” Krekorian said.
The councilman is hopeful and confident that the new plan will be effective. He created the motion after seeing several San Fernando Valley murals defaced by graffiti vandalism, especially off Burbank Boulevard and Colfax Avenue on the walls of a freeway underpass, according to Ian Thompson, Krekorian’s spokesman.
“The councilman very much thinks this will be effective by de-incentivizing people who may want to deface public property and give incentives to residents who witness vandalism,” Thompson said. “But this is just part of it. Public outreach is the other part that the councilman will be focusing on to educate the public on how to deal with graffiti vandalism, including calling the city at 311.”
Millions of square feet of space in Krekorian’s 2nd District have already been cleaned by graffiti removal efforts without any additional incentives or harsher punishment, so the new plan should help those efforts even more, Thompson said.
“We need to do everything we can to keep graffiti out of our city and to discourage people from breaking the law. The goal of my plan is to increase penalties for graffiti and double the reward for information leading to capture and conviction of vandals who deface buildings, walls and public art,” Krekorian said. “I want to engage the public and enlist their help so that we can save our murals and prevent graffiti vandalism.”
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