City councilman builds creative outlet for graffiti artists tempted to break law

City councilman builds creative outlet for graffiti artists tempted to break law

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Tyler police say they've noticed an increase in graffiti appearing around the city the summer. A city councilman says he has an idea on how to solve that problem.

Hundreds of graffiti tags have been entered into the City of Tyler's system in the last seven days.

"It certainly happens a lot more than we wish," Tyler Police public information officer, Don Martin says.

Consequences for "coloring outside the lines" in Tyler can be significant.

"If you were to go to a school and spray paint the side of a building, it's a state jail felony, regardless if it's technically a class C misdemeanor to clean it up," Martin says.

City Councilman Don Warren is hoping people will stop committing the crime altogether, after a concrete art wall is installed at Hillside Park; a legal canvas on which to express creativity.

"It's going to be 200 feet long and 8 feet tall, and it's going to be a place for our local artists to come and paint murals and just be creative," Warren says.

With some concern about the free speech aspect of the art wall, the city will keep an eye on the artwork.

"If someone paints something on there that we don't like or is objectionable, we'll paint over it and let another artist come in and do their thing," Warren says.
As for other areas of the city, there's a hotline where residents can report inappropriate graffiti.

"We contract out of service where our graffiti and tag team cover up the graffiti within 72 hours," 'Keep Tyler Beautiful' coordinator Angela Bennis says.

Don Martin says the cost of the damage that is done to the property where the graffiti is painted is the exact amount of money the perpetrator will be fined once he or she is caught.

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