Relatively speaking, there’s a lot more money spent on graffiti removal locally than you probably realize. Along with the Minneapolis Anti-Graffiti Initiative, which pays citizens cash for leads about graffiti that produce arrests, the city of Minneapolis is offering Graffiti Micro Grants to non-profit community-based organizations and churches for beautification programs, graffiti clean-up, and teaching the Graffiti Hurts curriculum, among other projects. The cap for each organization is $10,000. (The image above, by the way, is the city’s very own anti-graffiti graffito.)
For another perspective on graffiti, see:
A fine line between aerosol art and graffitil by Anna Ewart, Minnesota Daily
Graffiti Hurts claims Minneapolis spends $4 million a year to fight graffiti. Yet Susan Young, supervisor for the city’s public works department, estimates it’s more like $2.5 million. And Sgt. Donna Olson ,who investigates graffiti for the MPD, has said removal costs the city $1.5 million a year.
Graffiti Hurts, an org started in 1996 by Keep America Beautiful, asserts about 80 percent of graffiti is what it calls “hip hop graffiti.” Another 10 percent is gang-related, and 5 percent are “pieces,” those junior-high proclamations that Johnny plus Susie=TLA. But City Council Member Gary Schiff, who has been outspoken about graffiti, has continued to claim that gang graffiti makes up 95 percent of the tags in South Minneapolis neighborhoods Powderhorn and Phillips.
If you live in that area as I do, then it’s true you’ve likely have had to contend with Surenos 13 gang tags. But 95 percent? A fresh rendering I spotted the other day near Lake Street was so innocuous and ridiculous it made me laugh out loud. In drippy red spray paint swirls it shouted: “Sur X 3! Sex and Drugs! Crime!” A real gang tag? Doubtful.
Yet if it’s true that 95 of the graffiti in the area is caused by the Surenos, as Schiff claims, the $164,500 in city grants to stem the problem in the area is mostly an expensive Band-aid for what city officials say is a growing problem. Below the jump is a list of the 17 organizations, all in South Minneapolis, that received grant money for graffiti-curbing programs. All organizations received the grant limit of $10,000 except for the Longfellow Community Council, which received $4,500 for a mural project.
Volunteers of America – Southwest Center
Brian Coyle Center for Pillsbury United Communities
Seward Nieghborhood Group
Stevens Square Community Organization
Ventura Village Neighborhood
Keep Minneapolis Beautiful
Cristo Rey Jesuit High School and Mentoring Peace Through Art
El Colegio Charter School
Lake Street Council
Lyndale Neighborhood Association
Powderhorn Park Neighborhood Association
Corcoran Neighborhood Organization
Longfellow Community Council
Saint Paul Evangelical Church
Standish Ericsson Neighborhood Association
Waite House Youth Programs