Marty Golden grabbed the paint spray hose, aimed it at the wall, and fired. Out came a splash of yellow paint, firing out of the hose like bullets out of a machine gun. Golden, a state senator, had a big smile on his face. He was clearly having fun painting a wall on this Thursday morning.
But Golden (R-C-Bay Ridge-southern Brooklyn) wasn’t painting a wall just to give it a fresh coat of yellow. His work had a serious purpose. The wall was located on the side of a building at 6401 18th Ave. in Bensonhurst and before Golden grabbed the hose, it had been covered with graffiti.
Golden had arranged for a Graffiti-Free NYC truck to be dispatched by the Mayor’s Community Assistance Unit to paint over graffiti covered walls on commercial buildings on and around the 18th Avenue shopping strip for the day on June 6. Under the Graffiti-Free NY program, the Bloomberg Administration assists communities seeking to clean up graffiti. Each truck is equipped with a power hose to paint over ugly graffiti.
Some call spray painted coded messages on public walls art, but law enforcement officials and lawmakers call graffiti a crime.
“We’re sending a message. We’re out here; we’re going to clean it up. If you do graffiti, we’re going to arrest you,” Golden said. As for graffiti vandals, they’re not artists, Golden said. “They are destroying the character of the neighborhood. But we haven’t given up on our quality of life. Some great work will be done of this avenue today,” he said. Golden noted that the graffiti cleanup was taking place on Brooklyn-Queens Day, a day the two outer boroughs celebrate their histories. It was a perfect day for a graffiti cleanup, he said.
Marnee Elias-Pavia, district manager of Community Board 11, said it is important for officials to send a message to vandals, “that we will not tolerate it.”
Two frequent offenders are a vandal whose tag, or signature, is “QJ2C,” and another so-called street artist who paints an eye next to a smile on walls. Their tags can be found in dozens of locations, Elias-Pavia said.
Walls on public buildings aren’t the only canvasses for the vandals, Elias-Pavia said. “They do automobiles and muni-meters, too,” she said.
Golden announced that he was putting up a $250 reward for anyone who provides police with information leading to the arrest and conviction of a graffiti vandal.
Police and prosecutors take graffiti crimes seriously, he said.
Golden said he expected several buildings on 18th Avenue to be graffiti-free by the end of the day.