It is an interesting irony that three alleged vandals arrested for doing graffiti in Glendale and Ridgewood are believed to be part of a graffiti "crew" that calls itself "Ready for War." The district attorney and the residents of these two communities are also ready for war.
Police estimate that the three alleged vandals may have done more than $30,000 in damage to property in western Queens. That's a staggering amount of money and it puts this crime into the realm of felony prosecution.
The three young men picked the wrong neighborhoods to deface. "We knew who the kids were and we knew who the tags were long before they were arrested," said Paul Kerzner, the president of the Greater Ridgewood Restoration Corporation. Acting on a tip from the GRRC, the police searched one of the homes of the alleged vandals and found a stockpile of graffiti paraphernalia - including spray cans, felt-tipped markers, a paint roller and grinding stones. They also found a videotape of the vandals at work. Busted!
If these young men are convicted, the punishment should fit the crime. Kerzner would like to see them get jail time. But we think we have a better idea. If they are convicted, let them spend the next year cleaning up graffiti - 40 hours a week of hard labor for 52 weeks. And don't let them do the cleanup discreetly. Put sweatshirts on them that say "Former Graffiti Vandal." Put up signs where they work and invite the press so that other "crews" will know the cost of getting caught. If this means they have to drop out of school or quit a job, too bad.
Graffiti costs New York City millions of dollars every year and has tremendous impact on quality of life. Serious offenders deserve serious punishment.
©2003 Community News Group
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