Graffiti Fight in New York City

In Culture jamming, New York City on June 11, 2006 at 11:55 am

New York City Councilman Peter Vallone really doesnt like graffiti. So much so that he seems to have a personal vendetta against the art form, attacking it in all formats and even trying to stop it when legally sancitoned.

Earlier this year, the Council member helped put a law into effect that made it illegal for people ages 18-21 to possess art materials such as spray paint or broad tipped markers (yes, you read that correctly – possess).

Now that law is being challenged. On April 25th, clothing designer Marc Ecko filed a lawsuit against the city on behalf of seven young artists, arguing that the law violates their first amendment rights.

After bouncing around several levels of courts and judges, a temporary block has been placed on the law.

On June 9th, Gotham Gazette reported:

"A federal appeals court has temporarily blocked enforcement of a city law that bans 18 to 21 year olds from possessing spray paint or broad-tipped markers often used for graffiti… The freeze on enforcement, which backs the decision of a lower court, will stay in effect while the judge considers the case."

Hopefully the temporary block will become permanent. Just because someone who is within that age range is in possession of those items, it doesnt mean that they are painting on private property. What if they want to do graffiti inspired art at home, in a studio, or in an art class? Also, it doesn't make any sense to target only that age group when anyone of any age could potentially use those items for graffiti.
Related Links:

  • Ecko's fight in other cities
  • Funny Anti-Vallone culture jamming
  • More on funny Anti-Vallone culture jamming (look at the rest of this site for great posts on street art, culture jamming, public space, etc)

Vallone ad from www.visualresistance.org

  1. Reminds me of the A31 posters from the Republican National Convention in NYC in 2004.  I also enjoy this choice piece from Vallone Jr. on a resolution opposing the invasion of Iraq, which was placed before the City Council in 2003:

    "We are not being forced into war to protect ourselves," said Councilmember David Yassky, who supported the measure. "We can not push the rest of the world into democracy by ourselves."

    "New York was attacked by terrorists," countered Councilmember Peter Vallone, Jr. "Saddam Hussein supports terrorists. He is a terrorist. The risk of inaction is too great." (emphasis my own)

     Nice, Petey, very nice.

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