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