38th St Graffiti Problem

East 38th St in South Minneapolis is one of the busiest areas for graffiti in the city as far as I can tell. The major problem area runs from Hiawatha Ave on the East to just short of 35W on the West. Businesses are tagged over and over again with gang graffiti.

Discussion of this problem has popped up on e-democracy over the past few days.

I’ve talked to some of the businesses along there. Some have largely given up on removing graffiti from their property because it takes too much time. They just rely on neighbors or the city to get around to cleaning it up for them.

In other cases, the building owner lives outside of Minneapolis and leases the building for retail. The tenants don’t seem particularly motivated to remove the graffiti and at the same time don’t seem interested in bugging their landlords about it. So it sits until the landlord receives a letter from the city telling them their building has been tagged again.

Here are six things I think they should do:

1. Install cameras and better lighting on problem buildings like the antique train building.

2. Commission murals on as many buildings as possible.

3. Add signs saying, “Smile, you’re being recorded” to the walls where they’re most often tagged.

4. Insist that remaining buildings standardize on one color of paint and have building owners sign off on immediate cover-ups of any graffiti on their property.

5. Better publicize graffiti arrests in the schools. Gang graffiti is generally done by a younger crowd. Let prospective taggers know the risks of engaging in this behavior.

6. Follow up with people who report graffiti letting them know it’s been been removed. Make them feel like they’re making a difference.

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