Marker Madness

On August 17, 2010, the city of Wichita, KS, passed a law that prohibits a person from carrying “implements of graffiti” within 100 feet of any public building. These “implements” are defined in the ordinance as follows:

…(e) ‘Graffiti implements’ means any aerosol paint container, broadtipped
marker, gum label, paint stick or graffiti stick, etching equipment, brush or
any other device capable of scarring or leaving a visible mark on any natural or
man-made surface.

The preceding a-d defines the mentioned implements, but it is the last line that truly strikes home. They are calling ANYTHING that can make a visible mark an implement of graffiti. As an artist, I carry broad-tipped markers and Sharpies in my pocket almost all the time. This means that, if a police officer were to look in my pockets, I would be arrested for carrying basic art supplies.

The punishment for said crimes?

(b) Any person violating the provisions of this chapter shall be guilty
of a misdemeanor, and upon conviction thereof shall be punished by a fine of not
less than two hundred fifty dollars or more than one thousand, or by imprisonment
for not more than six months or by both such fine and imprisonment.

For carrying a MARKER. 250 dollars for carrying a marker. A misdemeanor on my record. Six months in prison. This is not the answer to graffiti. This is an obstruction of basic human rights via freedom of speech, freedom of expression in its legal forms. I am appalled by the audacity of the lawmakers in this city. A lot of the ordinance applies more to minors, part of which keeps them from obtaining these supplies unless they have a class that specifically requires them. My little brother is an artist, too, and he has several art classes. But he carries Sharpies as surely as I do for the purposes of marking up his notebooks and such.

WHY is it that people believe that restricting access to these supplies will make less graffiti? The criminals will just keep doing it because they don’t have an incentive not to do it. They have no positive reinforcement. Some of them are actually splendid artists. Why doesn’t the city hire them to beautify public buildings? Why not provide places they CAN go to? These things have not been tried. Why fill up the over-full prisons with people who don’t belong there?

If you’d like to support ongoing efforts to stop this idiotic law, please join the Facebook group “Marker Madness,” linked at the bottom. The full text of the ordinance is also linked.

(I hope these links work…)

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=101082009952787&ref

http://wichitaks.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=858&meta_id=66752

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