Oh, no, is the city going to ban the purchase of Crayola Sidewalk Chalk? The Brooklyn Paper exposes the "new face of vandalism?": 6-year-old Natalie Shea, whose mother got a warning letter from the Department of Sanitation about the chalk drawings her daughter drew on their front stoop. The letter read, “PLEASE REMOVE THE GRAFFITI FROM YOUR PROPERTY. FAILURE TO COMPLY … MAY RESULT IN ENFORCEMENT ACTION AGAINST YOU.”
In an article that almost reads like a story from the Onion, it turns out that a neighbor called 311 to complain about the drawings, hence the DOS letter. The definition of graffiti and law enforcement around it are both specific and vague. The City Council says graffiti "any letter, word, name, number, symbol, slogan, message, drawing, picture, writing … that is drawn, painted, chiseled, scratched, or etched on a commercial building or residential building" "not consented to by the owner of the commercial building or residential building," while the cops say if it can be washed off, it's not graffiti - but it still may not be legal (think egging a car).
The young artist's mom Jen Pepperman wondered to the Brooklyn Paper why issues like "dog poop, garbage from ill-kept homes, and noise from car alarms" weren't being addressed while this was. And her father George Shea said, "I do love that kid, but I wish she would stop capping my tags.”
Related: The Drawing Center is having a free panel discussion about graffiti - "Con Artists: Criminalization, Censorship, and the Marketplace" - on Saturday, October 20. Case 2 and Kez 5 will be there - we hope someone mentions little Natalie!
Photograph of Natalie Shea, with DOS letter and chalk drawings, by Julie Rosenberg for The Brooklyn Paper