Pictures & Text by: Arturo “Tito” Onesto
Eugene, Ore – Art lives in he Whiteaker, everything from artists, murals, and other forms of art are created in the neighborhood. Graffiti is also very prevalent in the Whiteaker area. How do the residents, visitors, and business owners in the neighborhood feel about the graffiti they come across?
Graffiti to some is a way of self-expression, and an art form all its own. To others it’s just an act of vandalism that should be punished and not celebrated. Resident and artist Ron LaFond says, “I admire the graffiti people that take time and try to do something good looking here, the rest is senseless signage, marking territory.”
How does the city of Eugene feel about graffiti? According to the City of Eugene’s website it “currently has an active anti-graffiti program, which includes a computerized system for photographing and tracking graffiti” as well as “a public education and information campaign focused on reducing the tolerance for graffiti.”
According to state law, “unlawfully applying graffiti” and “unlawfully possessing graffiti implements” are violations and punishable by a fine. In addition to a fine, a defendant may be ordered to perform hours of community service in order to remove graffiti. A person can also be charged with criminal mischief, which can be a misdemeanor or felony charge, depending on the dollar amount of damage or restoration costs. These crimes are punishable with higher fines and the possibility of jail time. The city of Eugene and the state are doing everything they can to stop and get rid of the growing graffiti problem.
On the other hand “free walls” are a place where graffiti artist are welcome and encouraged to tag. There walls are located just off of Shelton McMurphey Boulevard, the walls cannot be missed local artist are constantly tagging the walls and no matter how good something is it doesn’t last more than a couple of hours before its replaced with something new.
Are free walls the answer to the graffiti problem? They do provide a legal way for taggers to express themselves and with the heavy fines that come with tagging a public place this seems to be the answer.