Dallas Wants to Make it Easier on Graffiti Artists, But the Rule Breakers Are in for It

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Dallas' Public Safety Committee meets today to discuss its current approach to graffiti management, mainly that it's a plight beyond anyone's control. So put that can down, step away from the brush and let's chat a little, shall we?

You've been getting away with a surprising amount of tagging; roughly 60 to 80 new pieces get reported each week, leading to only eight arrests per month, on average. City officials are tired of fighting it; they'd like to start working with you and doing so means building bridges, sorta. Here's the idea they're trying to sell: They'll give up more community walls, both as contests (with prize money) and simply as canvases for artistic expression. At that point, you're expected to make your mark publicly and legally, rather than continuing your late night expeditions.

Officials are also using a lot of unfortunate cliches, like "stick and carrot" to sum up the new proposals. Here's the deal: You're going to want to take the carrot. The City's generosity with public space is a trade-off -- one last stab to get you on the straight and narrow. You'll even have to pledge to stop participating in illegal activity should you want to benefit from those competitions and possibly gain employment from the new program (the facts on that are vague, stating simply "opportunities for legitimate employment" in a short list of carrots.) Ignore that cement olive branch, and the penalties will likely increase.

The plan is to temporarily shift more cops to the Gang Unit, with the first cross-over group to begin training in September. So those of you who haven't shaken the habit can expect more pressure and soon. It's all part of a little thing they're calling "Enhanced Enforcement," a multi-step path of disciplinary action that starts with more arrests, uses new software to quickly calculate repair expenses and ends with a focus on building "multiple cases to enhance criminal penalties against prolific taggers." That last bit is fancy talk for judging you against your peers.

You should go to tomorrow's presentation, see the whole thing go down in person and ask a few questions. It's being held at 11 a.m. at Dallas City Hall, Room 6ES, 1500 MariIla St. If you just want to watch it play out, but not actually show your face, those meetings are also streamed live (Just click the logo on the left around meeting time). You can read ahead on it here.

If the Dallas Graffiti Arts Project is passed and funding goes through, you'll get your first carrot at the Farmer's Market this fall. There will be an open competition coupled with a little bit of prize money for the winner. So grab it! Grab that carrot. But do watch out for the sticks, they look freshly sharpened.

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