2007-08-08 / Features

Mayor Signs On To Vallone Jr's Graffiti Law

Mayor Michael Bloomberg approved legislation making it illegal for kids under 21 to carry graffiti instruments in unlocked containers.

The law, authored by City Councilmember Peter F. Vallone Jr., outlaws the possession of graffiti instruments in public places by people under the age 21. Under the new bill, it will be a criminal violation to carry spray paint, broad-tipped markers or etching acid unless it is enclosed in a locked container, or if the tools are needed for educational or professional purposes.

"The truth is that graffiti defaces our beautiful neighborhoods and sends the message that we don't care about our communities. We must make every effort to stop it," Bloomberg said at the signing.

The legislation is based on a bill that Vallone passed in 2005, which was challenged in court by proponents of graffiti. The courts issued an injunction prohibiting the city from enforcing the law, expressing concern that the amendments imposed too heavy a burden on free speech. Wanting to spare taxpayers an expensive legal battle, the city decided to draft a new bill tailored to meet the court's arguments.

"An opponent of this law would have to argue that people under 21 need immediate, unfettered access to graffiti tools at all times. That's simply ridiculous," Vallone said. "Murals take hours, but a tag can be done in seconds. We want to put this crime down before it 'gets up'."

Jimmy Oddo, minority leader of the city council, co-sponsor of the bill and ally in the battle against graffiti, added, "One thing you can say about these graffiti vandals is they are tenacious. We are lucky to have Peter Vallone Jr. to match their tenacity in this fight."

"The mayor and I are like the Frito Lay of anti-graffiti laws," joked Vallone at the signing, referring to the old commercial slogan, "It doesn't matter what they do to them, we'll just keep making more."

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