By George Capsis

I hate graffiti and perhaps that is why WestView News has done several front page articles on the subject.  

With the pandemic and the closing of offices we now have an ever-ready young crowd that poured into Washington Square during the Black Lives Matter demonstrations and then marched down Broadway, spray cans in hand and even smashed shop windows.

Right here on Bleecker Street, somebody sprayed “shit on god “ on a restaurant’s plywood cover window and they did a 40-foot nonsense “TEXAS” on the back of a building facing 7th Avenue.

OUR POLICE ERASE CRIME: Starting Saturday, April 10th, under a new program announced by Police Chief of Department Rodney Harrison, the New York police will join with the community to paint out graffiti. Photo by Paul Vlachos.

I called DCPI, the police press office, to see if I could discover a person in charge of the fight against graffiti but never found him or her (the mostly young officers who staff DCPI got to know me and my persistence but nobody ever said “I am in charge”). But then on March 3rd, NYPD Police Commissioner Dermot Shea issued a press release that the New York Police Department was about to do a city-wide “Spring Clean Up: Combating Graffiti.”  Oh wow —I called and they sent me a video press release showing the new Police Chief of Department Rodney Harrison, speaking in front of a gaggle of police commanders all the way down to the Police Athletic League to demonstrate, at last, an all-out collective war on graffiti.

But wait, this is very important—they were not just going to hang cameras on lamp posts to catch the spray can artists in the wee hours of dawn, but they were inviting citizens to report new spray can murals and then join with them (the police) to roll paint over them—and make them disappear.

Yes, you got that right. You and I can now join with the police to not just report these visual crimes, or try vainly to find the perpetrators who might be hunkered down in Brooklyn, but to eliminate their crimes with a generous gift of paint from Home Depot or your local store.

Police COMMISSIONER DERMOT SHEA announces Graffiti Initiative. Photo courtesy of NYPD.

The program invites us to collectively bury the graffiti crimes behind a block of freshly painted gleaming enamel. All volunteers will also get a t-shirt, from the Chief of Community Affairs.

Now this is unique in the history of policing: we do not seek to apprehend the offender (too expensive) but rather to bury their crime.


At about this time photographer Paul Vlachos sent me an email identifying, with contained outrage, a series of graffiti explosions around his apartment house in the Village and we invited him to take the historic photos of the very first graffiti ‘internment’.

The block of fresh paint is visually assertive but it is much too expensive to remove the graffiti and restore the decades old patina of the historic buildings. But I am willing to accept the large patches of graffiti shrouds in the hope it will make the next graffiti artist hesitate, knowing that his work will not make its way to a museum when the building is demolished.

But there is a better way in the case of old patina of the historic buildings: paint remover, similar to what is used to remove paint from the stone monument at Washington Park Arch. Yes, it is more expensive and delicate to apply, but with community support, the work of the police could be made even more effective.

The NYPD has established a new email address,, that will be monitored around the clock by a dedicated police officer, to donate or offer support. A graffiti coordinating officer will distribute tips from the public to the precincts, Police Service Areas and Transit Districts throughout New York City, where commanders will oversee clean-up and education efforts in close collaboration with community partners. Preventative ideas will also be shared, such as increasing the overall lighting of an area or installing motion-sensor lights or sprinklers to discourage vandals—particularly in elevated or out-of-reach spaces. Hate graffiti—or graffiti that includes offensive slogans or symbols—will be prioritized for cleanup.

For our 6th Precinct station on West 10th Street, please contact Evrim Can, Community Affairs at 212-741-4826, or Graffiti Officer Pete Plessa. Captain Stephen Spatero is the Commanding Officer of the 6th Precinct.


2 thoughts on “The End of Graffiti?

    • Author gravatar

      Dear writer, I am sad for you and your barren soul. Perhaps if you cared more about all of the people, black and brown, homeless and hungry, old people and youth, who have been impacted and affected by Covid, you could allocate some of this fervent energy you direct towards property towards living and breathing beings who make up our neighbors and community. Even if you find graffiti distasteful, which is an acceptable opinion, working so hard to eliminate it, without also looking at the larger problems that engender vandalism, is like trying to close the lid on an already overflowing toilet. I find it sad and disheartening that articles about graffiti and preservation have garnered this much attention.

      It takes very little effort for me, a member of this community, to discover that the writer of this article has assaulted members of our city government as well as volunteers.

      I wish there were a way to prevent your newspaper from making its way into my mail slot. The presence of your perspective being shoved into my home feels like vandalism to me.

      • Author gravatar

        Dear B,

        Thank you for your thoughtful letter. You have raised some good points. We will direct our delivery staff to skip your address. We will email you privately to handle this.

        Kind regards,
        WestView News Editorial Staff

Leave a Reply