INFORMATION = EDUCATION = ENFORCEMENT
How to spot a tagger - Accompanying illustration.
Submitted by Detective Rod Hardin, Seattle Police Department
In recent years, most major cities have experienced a substantial increase in graffiti vandalism. Seattle, like other cities, has found that the increased graffiti is not related to traditional criminal gangs i.e. Bloods, Crips, etc., but to individual taggers or tagger "crews" associated with the "Hip Hop" sub-culture. "Tagger graffiti" is committed by individuals with the purpose of establishing identity and recognition for themselves among their peers.
Definitions of terms commonly used when discussing graffiti:
Bombing: The act of going out to cover a large area with graffiti tags.
Crew: A group of taggers with their own distinct name, usually consisting of three words, "Destroy The City" (DTC), "Can't Be Stopped" (CBS), "Aerosol Criminal Madness" (ACM), and "Your Property Next" (YPN). Crews are usually identified by their initials only. Many crew names show an acceptance for violence and destructiveness.
Hip-Hop: A sub-culture that emerged in New York City in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Hip Hop is associated with rap music, break dancing, baggy clothes, and graffiti.
Piece: Short for masterpiece. A mural, an elaborate large scale painting of one's tag utilizing different colors of spray paint. The piece can also be a caricature or statement.
Piece Book: A sketch book used by taggers to practice their own unique style of graffiti writing. These books often contain sketches of throw-ups or pieces that they have done in the past, or are planning to do in the future.
Racking: Stealing, to shoplift spray paint cans, aerosol can nozzles (for different widths of spray), liquid shoe polish applicators, or markers.
Scribe: An object (rock, drill bit, honing stone, or glass cutter) used to etch or scratch a tag on glass, metal, or plastic. Covering a large area with etched tags is called scratch bombing.
Tag: The most basic form of graffiti, a graffiti writer's signature. A moniker or nickname usually consisting of four to six letters. The basic tag is printed or scrawled, and can be either easy or difficult to read. -
A Tagger: A person who adopts a unique nickname (tag), and then paints, writes, or etches that tag on public or private property.
Tagging: The act of writing graffiti tags with spray paint, marker, grease pencil, liquid shoe polish, or scribe.
Throw-up: Larger than the basic tag, in bubble or balloon style letters, using one color and appears as an outline. Throw-ups using two colors, one for the outline and one for the center are called fill-ins.
Stamps: Pre-tagged stickers. Taggers write their tag on stickers, then the pre-tagged stickers can be put up in difficult locations quickly. The stickers can be of any type. Overnight postal delivery stickers are free and commonly used.
Different Types of Graffiti:
Bubble Gum Graffiti: childish expressions of affection or hostility ("Johnny + Ann," "Joey is a jerk," etc.).
Gang Graffiti: marks territory, shows presence, praises deceased members, and threatens or challenges rivals.
Hate Graffiti: commonly aimed at an individual or group because of their race, religion, or sexual orientation.
Political Graffiti: can consist of symbols, slogans, or a statement.
Satanic Graffiti: can include the inverted pentagram (five pointed star), an up side down cross, the numbers 666, or the word "natas" (Satan spelled backwards).
Tagger Graffiti: by far the most common type of graffiti, the individual's tag usually accompanied by their crew tag. .
The majority of the graffiti on our streets today is "tagger graffiti". It is believed that individuals involved in tagging have low self-esteem and tag to get recognition that they would not normally receive. Their self described goal is fame. The more prolific the tagger, or the more difficult the tags are to paint (roof tops, bridges, etc.), the greater the fame. Some see the tagger as rebelling against authority, getting a feeling of power by defacing public or private property without getting caught. They may be experimenting with risk and adventurous behavior. Taggers are considered the "typical" youth-at-risk type of juvenile. With increasing frequency, taggers are found to be armed, in defense of rivals, being robbed, or to be used against citizens attempting to hold them for the police. The behavior and motivations of many taggers parallel those of criminal gang members. In some areas of the country tagging has escalated into criminal gang behavior (Tag Banging). This phenomenon is more prevalent in areas where there is a greater gang presence. Taggers are usually male, between the ages of ten through the early twenties and are from all social, racial, and economical classes. Many appear to be involved in the use of alcohol or drugs (usually marijuana). Many taggers are skateboarders. Half of the taggers arrested or identified in the City of Seattle do not live in Seattle, but come from outlying areas such as Everett, Kirkland, Bellevue, or Tacoma. Taggers from Los Angeles and San Jose California have also been identified doing graffiti in Seattle.
The pinnacle of expression for some taggers is achieved by "piecing". Many people who normally see tagging as vandalism, find "pieces" (graffiti murals) acceptable because they appear vibrant, colorful, and exciting. The problem is, "pieces" are just another form of tagging. Many of these "pieces" are created by very talented individuals, but with few exceptions, they continue to tag. It's only a matter of frequency. Once a piece is left up, other taggers will be drawn to the area. While there, these taggers will leave their tags throughout the neighborhood. Most tagging occurs after dark between the hours of midnight and six in the morning. Taggers justify what they do by calling their graffiti an art, but going out at night alone or with others to write, paint, or scratch a tag on someone else's property is youth-at-risk behavior, and is a crime.
It is estimated that in the City of Seattle millions of dollars are spent annually to paint out or remove graffiti. The sad truth is that the vandalism done to some property can be so damaging, that it can never be restored to its original condition. The worst example is that of property with historical significance.
Para mayor informacion flame a Pierce County Sheriff Department, Sargento Detective Thomas Lind al (253) 798-7713 o al Presidente de WSNIA Roger C. Lake al (360) 867-0523.
WSNIA P.O. Box 248 Zillah, Washington USA 98953