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Ask not for whom the buff tolls

January 15, 2005

Lots of press on Bloomberg’s scare-mongering, scapegoating new campaign tactic:
From CBS News: “On the theory that people can and will judge a book by its cover, Mayor Bloomberg is taking a page out of the Rudy Giuliani playbook and mounting a new war on graffiti.” The Staten Island Advocate reports that schoolkids will learn all about “the evils of graffiti” as a “major part” of the new anti-graf crusade. And the New York Times notes that “the Police Department is singling out the city’s 100 most frequently arrested vandals for extra monitoring as part of a renewed push to reduce graffiti, Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly said yesterday. (emphasis mine)
By way of the Wooster Collective, I found a short post on the crackdown over at Gothamist, which is critical but up this false dichotomy — Street Art vs. Graffiti — that I think lets Bloomberg off the hook. Several commenters walk the same road (“there is a huge difference between graffiti and street art”) on their way to supporting the mayor.
This kind of shit bugs me. Really bugs me. Know why? Because the police are not art critics. Your favorite artist is a toy to the cops. All street art is the same to the cops because it’s all illegal. Unless you’re installing a charming cow sculpture in City Hall Park or designing the new Diesel ads, public art is illegal. Period.
Some history, on the mid-90s persecution of COST (REVS’ partner) at


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