Lyndale man fights graffiti

Lyndale resident Scott Moore’s Web site features a map that tracks graffiti in Lyndale. Click on the link at http://minnetong.blogspot.com, and you’ll get snapshots of graffiti targets. Tags show up on local garages, stop signs, pavement and dumpsters.

The map is helpful because the tags reveal themselves: The artist’s identity appears in the tag and a database indicates his or her pattern of activity. Moore offers the graffiti maps as a free service.

A University of Minnesota program will power a citywide map. Right now, his map is limited to the neighborhood.

Mapping activity is just one way that Lyndale fights graffiti. Neighborhood resident Jack Baker presented a proposal to the Lyndale Neighborhood Association (LNA) on Oct. 24 that states, “Resolved: The City Attorney is directed to retain private counsel to recover damage to city property from graffiti.”

A new state statute empowers the city to collect from the vandal up to three times the restoration cost, attorney fees and $1,000 from a parent in a judgment against a minor.

Said Baker, “The point we’re trying to make is that graffiti is an expensive hobby.”

Baker said the proposal would be a paradigm shift in how graffiti violations are handled. Prosecution of graffiti perpetrators moves from criminal to civil courts, where the burden of proof is lower. That means that the graffiti vandal doesn’t have to be caught in the act, as in criminal court where an eyewitness is required. Instead, a record of the defaced property is sufficient.

Moore’s posted graffiti map is one way to provide that record. Another bonus is that by raising awareness and supplementing police efforts, “It’ll speed the removal of graffiti.”

Additionally, Baker’s resolution encourages the city to designate a small team of lawyers to target major occurrences of graffiti to “really send a message to the vandals,” said Moore.

LNA approved a motion in favor of Baker’s proposal. Next, he’ll bring the proposal to the City Council.