Citizens Against Graffiti

Overview2009 Graffiti Clean Up

If permission was not granted: It's not art, it's against the law!

Graffiti is defined as: markings, as initials, slogans, or drawings, written, spray-painted, or sketched on a sidewalk, wall of a building or public restroom, or the like. While much of the graffiti you see does not seem to make sense, it represents a powerful message for those who write it.

In realistic terms, graffiti, also known as tagging, is an individual or group's way of making themselves known to the community. They consider public and private property as their personal billboard.

Spray paint and marking pens are the materials of choice. Color, style, and design have significant meanings. Unfortunately, most "taggers" are not content with defacing their own property and soon move on to other, more visible property in the area.

To discourage vandals, graffiti should be eliminated within 24 to 48 hours.

Help is Available

We're here to help. The Centralia Police Department recruits a list of volunteers to help remove graffiti. If you are physically or financially unable to remove graffiti on your property, we can assist you by matching you with volunteers who can help. Home and business owners should supply the paint.

It's a Crime

RCW 9A.48: Malicious Mischief states: A person is guilty of malicious mischief if he or she knowingly and maliciously causes physical damage to the property of another; or (b) writes, paints, or draws any inscription, figure, or mark of any type on any public or private building or other structure or any real or personal property owned by any other person. Malicious mischief, under subsection (b) listed above is a gross misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in the county jail for up to one year, or by a fine of not more than $5,000 or both.

What it Means

Generally, the writer is claiming membership in a gang, real or imagined, or is simply signing his name or nickname. Color and stylization are very important. Below are a few definitions:

  • LVL - Lil Valley Lokotes (a local gang)
  • SUR, Surenos - Southerners (claiming to belong to southern California gangs)
  • XIII - Roman numeral for 13 (used by southern California gangs)
  • Norte, Nortenos - Northerners (claiming to belong to northern California gangs)
  • C.I.A. - Criminals In Action (a local gang)

Why Me

Graffiti is an advertisement. The more places it is seen, the more everyone knows who the local gangs are. Those who tag look for three things:

  • Location: A spot where they can tag without getting caught.
  • Visibility: A place that is widely seen.
  • Surface: A large, flat canvas.

Your property was tagged simply out of convenience.

What Happens Next

Many home and property owners are afraid to paint over graffiti because they believe there will be some retribution from those who painted the graffiti in the first place. There is not a single case on record where this has happened in Centralia!

You may find that those who painted the graffiti will do so again for the same reasons. Your property is a safe place to tag; it is a flat surface or simply a good visible location.

What should you do if that happens again? Call the police to report the incident and paint over the graffiti as soon as you can. Taggers want their graffiti seen. If you paint over their message enough times, they will choose another place to tag. The old real estate saying of Location, Location, Location is true. If you refuse to allow graffiti on your property, the vandals will go somewhere else.

You work hard for your home or property. No one should let a bunch of young thugs lower your property value or the value of your neighborhood.

If you need further information, visit the Keep America Beautiful website.