What is art? Certainly, not vandalism at Canal Origins
September 4, 2009

September 2009

We commend Alderman James Balcer for moving quickly to get the City to clean up the graffiti in Canal Origins Park when informed by the Gazette about it Aug. 6. Unfortunately, graffiti thugs proved they could move just as quickly, and the park by Aug. 25 had been defaced by graffiti once again.

Most parks have a fieldhouse, so Chicago Park District workers’ presence there discourages graffiti and other inappropriate behavior. Canal Origins does not, and its being a nature sanctuary with natural overgrowth, located in an industrial and waterfront area away from people, unfortunately provides excellent cover for troublemakers.

We have a commitment from Ninth District Police Commander Eugene Roy that police will patrol the park more diligently. Balcer and other City officials also are correct when they say they need more people from the community to report suspicious characters there when they see them. Balcer, the Chicago Park District, the police, and people in the community, even those merely driving by, need to be vigilant and aggressive in combating graffiti in this park.

Cities changed their tactics in battling graffiti a few years ago. Although some people actually called graffiti “art,” cities like Chicago and New York abandoned policies of living with graffiti “because it will just come back,” as some argued, and began aggressively removing it—again and again, if need be. As New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner said about vandals tagging Yankee Stadium’s exterior, “We can buy more paint than they can.”

Cleaning up graffiti in Canal Origins Park, or anywhere in the city, is expensive but necessary. To get the City’s “Graffiti Blasters” on the job where you see graffiti, just call 311. It’s one of the best calls you can make to keep Chicago clean.

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