Thursday, October 16, 2014

Duggan administration 'tone deaf' on graffiti, apologizes for crackdown

Posted By on Thu, Oct 16, 2014 at 10:09 AM


On Monday, city officials went after building owners on Grand River Avenue whose buildings had artwork created by beautification project the Grand River Creative Corridor. According to the GRCC's Derek Weaver, the city issued almost $8,000 in fines. The stunt caused a palpable uproar, and by Wednesday, Duggan personally apologized to Weaver and other business owners and dismissed all tickets.

The problem is that inspectors were blindly ticketing without any regard for whether the work was in fact vandalism or not.



As The Detroit News noted, "on Wednesday, Duggan said inspectors from the Building, Safety and Engineering Department were 're-trained' to better understand distinctions between public art and unwanted graffiti."

To us, the distinction between a mere graffiti tag and commissioned street art is usually pretty obvious. This isn't a foolproof method, but the distinction can oftentimes be determined by asking yourself "Did the artist need to rent a cherry picker, or does it look like they just wrote their name in an hour during the wee hours of the night?" But there is a simpler solution for the less artistically inclined: you know, like maybe ask questions first, slap with fines later?

Sure, there's a gray area with street art, as The Detroit News also noted:

How tone deaf was the Duggan administration? A few blog posts and phone calls got the mayor's attention by Wednesday. Yes, it was true that he hates graffiti and is stepping up enforcement. No, it's not true that building owners can no longer display murals, or that the 150-year-old tradition of painting on Detroit buildings had come to an abrupt halt.

Duggan admitted "There are growing pains," assuring that henceforth building owners will not be ticketed for authorizing art on their buildings. However, building owners will be responsible for unauthorized graffiti on their properties, facing fines if they don't remove it within 14 days.

Detroit city officials have a long history of oscillating between support and disdain for street art — one needs to look only as far as the saga of the Heidelberg Project for an example. The city also seems to have a propensity for cracking down disproportionately hard on artists and art afionados, as they did in the "funkiest shakedown in human history."

Tags: , ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Detroit Metro Times. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Detroit Metro Times, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at letters@metrotimes.com.

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Detroit Metro Times Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Metro Times Press Club for as little as $5 a month.

Most Popular

Read the Digital Print Issue

July 28, 2021

View more issues

Newsletters

Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Best Things to Do In Detroit

© 2021 Detroit Metro Times - Contact Us

Website powered by Foundation