The owners of buildings and rail cars PREFER to have a uniform and decent paint job, rather than splashing any old thing on patches of tagging. So how does one reckon the damage done by tagging? Do you count the whole paint job which would be needed to fix the damage and make the damaged surface look perfect again? Or do you count the relatively minor cost of the "patch job," in terms of labor and materials? Do you count the anger and annoyance of property owners? Do you count the time of city officials to take reports and send out letters and inspection teams when property owners just throw up their hands and don't bother to get rid of graffiti? So prolific 311 callers like myself call it in?
No matter how you reckon up the cost, somebody like "Shock" does a lot of damage. So how much effort is actually put forward by authorities when it comes to catching somebody like Shock? Judging by the extensive trail of documentation to be found on the internet, where Shock and his tagger buddies show off their work...
It truly appears no authorities are looking for Shock, investigating Shock, trying to figure out the identity of Shock. This is hardly surprising when you consider how our city government has underfunded the Minneapolis Police Department, in what are admittedly tight and difficult times. I've heard, for example, there are 700 white collar crime investigations which have their own file. And there are only two Minneapolis police officers handling those 700 files. Individuals who approach the police about embezzlement, mortgage fraud, etc., are reportedly told to "get in line."
So what does it matter that Shock and his friends take pictures of their tagging, pictures of themselves posing with tags or actively tagging, and these pictures are posted in numerous places on Flickr.com along with extensive discussion or commentary?
Check this out. GO TO THIS LINK I'M ABOUT TO GIVE YOU. Click on some of the pictures of tagging by "Shock" and follow the little electronic trails to the numerous Flickr.com profiles to see who is taking pictures of Shock's tagging, who is commenting on it, and what's being documented in their own pictures. Ready? OK, go to this link for a while, click here.
Given the wide, well-lit trail to clues about the identity of Shock and dozens of other taggers, it's apparent that if the authorities WANTED to find Shock and arrest him (along with dozens of his friends) it wouldn't be THAT difficult to follow the electronic trail of breadcrumbs right to their suburban bedrooms where they slumber beneath band and movie posters, dreaming pathetic emo dreams of smoking sticky bud and painting rail cars.
There is, however, apparently no political will to apprehend taggers unless a squad car rolls right into them, can of spray paint in hand. And, honestly, I'd prefer to see white collar mortgage fraudsters prosecuted first, but here's the thing: there aren't THAT many taggers. The trail of clues is EASY.
How much effort would it take for the authorities to locate, arrest and prosecute taggers IF THEY REALLY WANTED TO? And if the police aren't going to do it, who will? Do coalitions of businesspeople need to hire private detectives, file lawsuits? What? What needs to happen?
Some months ago, while out doing my on again, off again trucking job, I rolled through Cincinnati, Ohio. This is a town where the city fathers have apparently just thrown up their hands, and let the taggers win. From the highway, Cincinnati looks ugly and post-apocalyptic because there's so much graffiti. But it's not that difficult for Minneapolis to start looking like Cincinnati if decent people just give up, and let the taggers win.
Recently, Shock left a taunting message to city officials. They should save their money, he has nothing but time. A message like can be translated thusly: I AM JUST BEGGING YOU TO MAKE AN EXAMPLE OUT OF ME. IT'S NOT ENOUGH THAT I DAMAGE PUBLIC AND PRIVATE PROPERTY WITH IMPUNITY, I WILL ALSO TAUNT YOU WITH MY LAWLESSNESS AND MAKE MYSELF OUT TO BE SOME KIND OF URBAN LEGEND.
I say find Shock, and give him some time. Some time in a correctional facility. Some time picking up trash. Some time painting over tags, starting with all his own tags, so well documented on Flickr.com. Of course, maybe Shock can get some kind of plea bargain in exchange for the identities of numerous other taggers.
One can only hope.