Early this year, the Antonios began to notice that some stores and commercial buildings in the neighborhood weren’t being tagged, and they tended to be the ones with murals.
In no time at all, Los Paisanos market had a praying Virgin Mother on a front corner along with “Jesus Saves.”
On the side of the bright yellow building was a colorful but edgier painting that looked like a two-headed serpent slithering through a junk yard. Just above that was a more traditional rural scene, with a couple of paisanos in sombreros.
To the relief of the entire Antonio family, the taggers didn’t come near the mural. But three months into the respite, an even more menacing monster reared its ugly head.
This was a great idea; a business owner found a way to stop all the tagging. He no longer had to go out and paint over the graffiti which guessed was over 100 times. The city should have been thankful for this time and money savings. They weren’t however and threatened fines and jail time.
“ORDER TO COMPLY,” said the letter from the Building and Safety Department, which required the Antonios to remove “excessive signage” under threat of a $1,000 fine “and/or six (6) months imprisonment” for each of four alleged violations.
Whitewashing that wall was like sending ants an invitation to a picnic. The taggers have been back almost daily, treating the wall like a fresh canvas.
On some mornings, the Antonios were back out there with a brush, covering up the graffiti, which in Los Angeles can be like taking your own life into your hands. On other mornings, the city would send a crew that has a $500,000 annual contract to remove graffiti, one of more than a dozen anti-graffiti contracts for which the city pays $7 million a year.
Again, government bureaucracy stops individual ingenuity. They spend millions to do this. We have to stop electing officials who disregard private property rights and even common sense.