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The protests surrounding the murder of George Floyd have led to a surge of meaningful graffiti in cities all over the world.

It has also led to destructive actions.

We must focus on the givers, the helpers, and the mentors when times become challenging. Anyone can paint swear words or curses on a wall as a way to cope for a moment, but those who create meaningful graffiti are trying to find a path toward lasting change.

Does graffiti break the law? Quite possibly – but it isn’t always a sign of criminal disorder.

Graffiti Has Become a Tourist Activity

When we think about graffiti, the goal must be to look at the purpose of the artist. Some people want to be disruptive with their art, causing mayhem for personal gain. You can find artists painting walls in protest because it is the only voice left to them. 

You can even find people using graffiti to send powerful messages to others. Is this artwork really criminal damage if someone is willing to pay Banksy six figures to take something off of a wall? 

Some cities have embraced the idea of graffiti instead of condemning it. The artwork has become a tourist attraction in some areas, showing off the cultural activities in the community to prove that some exciting things are happening.

The communities that have the most graffiti also tend to be artistic or cultural hubs for their region.

Street Art Can Still Be Evidence of Gang Activity

Legal walls enable street artists to spray paint, tag, or mark whatever they want without worrying about having a police officer trying to find them.

Painting the property of someone else is still a crime. It is not unusual for this work to be part of gang activities in a community, even if the art is incredible.

What graffiti does well is disrupt the status quo. It forces people to pay attention to what the art says. It may only be a momentary glance, but the effort can create lasting change for some people.

A mural on a wall is essentially what graffiti provides to an urban landscape. The difference between the two is that one is wanted, and the other is not.

Street art doesn’t need to be an indication of social disorder. It can be an effort to change the world. 

Scott Larson