Skip to Content

Who Are the Real Vandals? ~ Los Angeles

10:48 AM PST on February 25, 2009


Which of these things is not like the other?

Putting up massive illegal signs that bring in millions of ill-gotten dollars.

Chopping down precious trees to help make a billboard more visible.

Erecting 4,000 illegal signs that clutter the city with mostly ugly and useless advertisements.

Using ones own money to decorate the city's largest concrete eyesore.

Of the four above examples of illegal public vandalism, three make the city uglier. Three cost the city millions of dollars in lower quality of life, property values, and lost tax revenues. Three generate massive profits for private corporations. Three are done purely to make money and with no thought towards art and the city as a canvas. And yet only one has resulted in charges and potential jail time for the artists involved.

Members of the MTA crew are currently locked up on felony vandalism charges and face years in prison for their act of illegal public art. While it's true that those engaging in graffiti know and understand that their art is illegal, and do so knowing there are consequences including jail time, it's obscene that corporate vandals are allowed to act without fear of punishment. Not only that, they get to make millions of dollars from their criminal actions.

The LAPD and the City Attorney's office specifically allow some vandalism, and uses incredible resources including pre-dawn raids and electronic monitoring to bust graffiti artists and taggers. The double standard makes the arrests of Smear, MTA, and others a farce. As long as corporate vandals go free, every graffiti artist busted by the local authorities is a shining example of a broken and unfair policy that targets artists and ignores corporate criminals.

1969 supergraphic photo by atwater village newbie

Already a user?Log in

Thanks for reading!

Register to continue

Become a Member

Stay in touch

Sign up for our free newsletter

More from L.A. TACO

Exclusive: Macheen and Horchatería Rio Luna to Open New School Torta Shop in Paramount

Expect a tender beef barbacoa torta served with guajillo consomé to dip, a torta ahogada de camarón (shrimp) with a yuzu avocado puree drowned in a spicy lobster stock, and a "Mexi-Italian" sandwich with panela, hot pistachio salsa macha, and mortadella. This innovative torta venture in SELA is set to open next week on Monday.

December 5, 2023

Bésame Mucho 2023 Proved It’s Officially the Best Latino Music Festival Right Now

The ticket price of Bésame Mucho may be worth it alone for the amusing, overwhelmingly positive people-watching experience, especially seeing multiple generations of Latinos dancing to the same live music many of us grew up listening to at family parties.

December 4, 2023

Who Keeps Whitewashing Boyle Heights’ Anti-Gentrification Mural?

“We’re not going to let the gentrification of Boyle Heights go under the radar," says Viva Padilla, the founder of the anti-gentrification collective who collaborated with local artist Sergio Robleto to create the Posada-inspired art. They both have their suspicions of who is responsible for it.

December 2, 2023

L.A. Mayor Warns Unhoused Not to Sleep Alone As Police Seek Killer of Three Sleeping Homeless Men

Los Angeles police are searching for a man suspected of walking up to three unhoused people this week while they slept during the early hours of the morning and shooting them to death.

December 2, 2023

Bronny James Cleared To Play Basketball Again By His Doctors

In August, the James family said that after comprehensive initial an follow-up exams, "the probable cause of Mr. James' sudden cardiac arrest has been identified. It is an anatomically and functionally significant congenital heart defect which can and will be treated.

November 30, 2023
See all posts