Tulsa's Graffiti Problem

Friday, September 1st 2006, 10:51 am
By: News On 6

A graffiti war that has hit Oklahoma City, might be coming out of Tulsa.

Oklahoma City Police and Tulsa Police have been checking into outbreaks of graffiti that's not gang related.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says it appears that some Tulsa vandals have made the trip to Oklahoma City to make their mark down there. The police call them "taggers" and while they're not relaying messages between gangs - there are causing thousands of dollars in damage and it's more widespread than you might think.

There is no spot too out of the way for the vandals who want to spray paint their way to infamy. Graffiti is on top of the vacant Tulsa Club building downtown and its just part of a recent spike in graffiti over the summer.

It's been even worse in Oklahoma City. Early this week - some historic aircraft and some buildings were tagged with paint and Oklahoma City Police think there is a Tulsa connection.

Tulsa Police say a man, who remains unidentified, posted pictures of the vandalism on the Internet.

Tulsa Police want to know who he is and prove him wrong when he says 'you can't catch me.' Tulsa Police officer Jason Willingham: "Our gang unit and our cybercrime unit have been helping in the investigation and everything we determine here, we're forwarding to Oklahoma City so hopefully they can get the guys causing the damage there put in jail."

Most downtown building managers are pretty good about cleaning up graffiti quickly, but with more of it showing up all the time, it's an expensive and time-consuming process.

Tuesday night, Tulsa Police stopped and briefly detained two men who were suspected of tagging some downtown buildings. The stop was right outside a building that had been tagged, but because officers didn't see them doing anything - they were released after questioning - and were not arrested.

One of the reasons it's hard to stop graffiti is that police almost have to witness it firsthand to make the charges stick. "So it is an extremely hard crime for us to catch and prosecute."

The city of Tulsa has full time crews painting over graffiti because it's a never ending job. And by painting over it, it's possible to eliminate some of the attention that taggers want for their work.

There is other graffiti and it is labeled as gang graffiti. But most of the graffiti you see in downtown Tulsa and Oklahoma City, is just an art form for these guys.