The Mayor outlined his anti-graffiti plan yesterday, saying, "Graffiti is something for which our administration has zero tolerance...[it's] an invitation to criminal behavior." He formally announced that the antivandalism units of the NYPD and transit police would combine to form a graffiti-crime fighting unit, an idea mentioned and started last summer. The Times reported that since the formation of the new unit, there's been a 20% increase in arrests, contributing to a 78% increase in graffiti-related crimes for 2004. Tools that the police will be using: A database to track graffiti crime patterns (especially targetting repeat and the top 100 offenders), infrared cameras, and a reward program that offers $500 to anyone who reports a graffiti incident that results in an arrest and conviction. Gothamist understands why the mayor feels he needs to do that, as many neighborhood groups, especially in the Bronx, complain about graffiti, but in some instances, it can be a way for people to express themselves. And Gothamist wonders if graffiti and street art are one and the same to the Mayor.

Gothamist finds the Mayor's Anti-Graffiti Task Force homepage hilarious, if only because it's the only city government page we've seen so far with a black background...ooh, that must mean they are especially down with street crime...updated: it looks like the city changed the page to some staid and standard bureaucratic looking stuff! Update #2: We love Google and cache! See the screenshot here.

Check out Art Crimes for graffiti from all over and Wooster Collective for street art. Here's a mobile photoblog of graffiti from Bluejake.