Yesterday, Seattlecrime.com attained a Seattle City Auditor’s Office report and survey documenting “paint and sticker-based vandalism” in Seattle. The report was requested by Seattle City Council members Tim Burgess (who also pushed the anti-panhandling law that would have violated the constitutional rights of Seattle’s homeless population) and Tom Rasmussen. The report is full of falsehoods and outright lies that I will address over the next few days.
1.) Today I will address the first part of the report which looks at four areas around Seattle and documents the “vandalism” in those areas.
2.) Tomorrow I will respond to the second part of the report which includes an inventory of what gets tagged, what is used to “vandalize” and what the public’s response to this horrible crime is.
3.) Thursday, I will respond to the final part of the audit with nine suggestions on how to change Seattle’s graffiti policies.
When I first heard that the city was asking the public what they thought about graffiti and how it affected their communities, I thought that it was a positive step for the city to confront a “problem” that they have utterly failed to confront in any meaningful way. How naive was I. Unfortunately, I cannot quote the survey as it is now closed, but every question was incredibly leading with the exception of “How large of a problem is graffiti in your life?”
Now that the audit has finally been released, I know just how far the city has gone to only show their side of the story. City auditors went to four busy spots throughout the city to document the amount of “vandalism”: downtown Seattle, between 1st and 6th Avenues and Marion and Spring, First Hill, between 7th Avenue and Minor and Marion and Spring, Broadway Avenue East, from East Pine to East Roy, and East Pine Street from Nagel Place to 16th Avenue and Minor Avenue to Boylston.
The auditors found “556 instances of graffiti” and inexplicably claim that they “did not find any instances of what could be called artistic tagging (“street art”)”. Now, there are so many things wrong with that statement that I’m going to have to break it down into two parts. First, there are far more than 556 “tags” if they are including “paint and sticker-based vandalism” which the report states they are documenting. This brings me to question how comprehensive this survey was and if they were just picking andchoosing which streets, signs etc. they wanted to include in the final report. Second, they couldn’t find one instance of “artistic tagging”? Really, not a single one? What definition is the auditor’s office using to define “artistic tagging”? What gives the auditor’s office the right to declare what is art or not? Even if they had an incredibly cynical view of what art is, there’s no way that they could have ignored so much elaborate and skilled artwork in those four areas.
Now you’re probably thinking—this report can’t get any worse, it’s already given away its’ biased stance and the authors have proven that they are willing to lie, so it can’t get any worse. Unfortunately it does, it gets far worse. Check back tomorrow as I address the second part of the report detailing the public’s response to graffiti, where tags are, and what tools these horrendous “vandals” use.