New Graffiti Law Part of Gang Crackdown

By Jeff Stebbins

Newschannel 10

Amarillo - Business owners may get some relief this year if they fall victim to vandalism.

All it takes is a can of spray paint and a pair of idle hands to inflict unsightly damage on your business.

The Khiva Shriners Temple was vandalized last year, and recorder Wilton Manley could find no sense of reason behind the actions, saying, "I think it's a disgrace that someone has to express themselves in that way, and deface the building or whatever they put it on - it's a shame that people have to do that."

House Bill 2086, passed unanimously this year, requires the county or city in which the vandalism occurred to offer to remove the graffiti at no charge to the business owner.

El Paso representative Joseph Moody helped author the bill, and he says the amendment is part of a larger bill aimed at cracking down on gang activity, which includes "tagging" as part of the itinerary.

"Graffiti a lot of times is territorial - it's gang-related, and to get that cleaned up is not just a strike against the gangs and their activity, but it's also a way to keep our communities looking safe, clean, family-friendly, and that way we have a better environment to raise our families in."

And despite their efforts to combat the problem, trains are a frequent target of taggers due to their relative accessibility, as Joe Faust of BNSF notes, "We do clean it up as much as we can, but we find in some areas that almost as quickly as we clean it up, the problem is right back."

Time will tell if the new law will have an effect on making Texas cities cleaner and safer.