THE WAR ON GRAFFITI - JuniperCivic.com
Serving Middle Village and Maspeth since 1938.

Originally published in the March 2003 Juniper Berry Magazine

THE WAR ON GRAFFITI

We in Middle Village, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Glendale have watched the graffiti ruining our neighborhoods for quite a few years. We see the stains on garages, street signs, storefronts, churches and synagogues.

The sight is depressing and demoralizing. We see so much of it; then we wind up thinking that we are helpless about it; that we can't fix it. Then we hope that someone else will take care of it.

We see merchants and neighbors clean up only to be attacked again very quickly. Well, good neighbors, we do indeed have the power to win the war!

We have cameras to record the stains. We can keep a log of where and when we spotted the graffiti. We can then report our sightings to the police. Graffiti is a crime!!!

There are organizations who will help us- for instance our own Juniper Park Civic Association, Middle Village Property Owners Residents Association, COMET, Maspeth Plateau Civic Association, Glendale Property Owners, Citizens for a Better Ridgewood, Ridgewood Property Owners & Civic Association, Liberty Park Homeowners and others. Join an association and be active.

You have your City Council Member who represents your interests. Contact your member and ask for help with the graffiti. Police Precinct officials hold regular meetings on the third Wednesday of every month, and you are invited and encouraged by those officials to attend. The meeting locations rotate through different neighborhoods throughout the precinct, so at least several meetings will be near your home.

It has been my experience that the City Council Member will actively participate in these precinct meetings (known as COP104 meetings). Here is a great opportunity for us to speak to the precinct ‒ and sometimes the Borough Command officials ‒ to identify our community problems. The more neighbors who attend these meetings, the more the officials are convinced that we are serious about getting the problems resolved. In my own amateur war on graffiti in my neighborhood, here are some of the things I've learned: Graffiti is a crime; if you want graffiti to end, be persistent. If the precinct doesn't respond properly, contact your City Council Member, the Queens County Borough President (Helen Marshall), the Queens County District Attorney (Richard Brown), and the Mayor. No satisfaction? Write letters to the editor. Keep photographs. Keep a log of the graffiti location and date and time you spotted it. This can serve as documentation to arrest, convict and sentence the destructive criminals.

If you see graffiti on any publicly owned property, such as street signs, sidewalks, bridges, or any other location owned by the city or state, you may report this to the police. You have the right to be the official complainant, and the police are obliged to take and act on the report.

If you see graffiti on private property, such as a homeowner's fence or garage or wall, or if the graffiti is on a storefront or other commercial property, the police will not act on your complaint unless you are the homeowner or merchant. So, use your skills to persuade the property owner to report the crime to the police. But, even if the homeowner or merchant will not contact the police, you can contact your civic association, your City Council Member, and all the others to prompt them to get involved.

The proper police response is that the graffiti unit takes photos for documentation and to see if it can identify the criminal who smeared the location. The police must take a report, and, notify all other police units of the presence of the graffiti with the idea that the criminal can be caught.

This is our neighborhood. In the end, it's up to us to take care of it. Other neighborhoods have their own problems, so they are not going to help us with ours. We can get rid of this crime. Neighbor by neighbor, wall-by-wall; garage-by-garage, merchant-by-merchant, we can restore Middle Village, Maspeth, Ridgewood, and Glendale to a graffiti-free zone. Will you help?