How should police deal with graffiti artists?
DALLAS — Nicholas Bowers looks at an empty concrete wall and sees a canvas.
"The big, ugly gray wall nobody wants to look at, it gives them something decorative to look at," Bowers said.
He said he's a reformed "tagger." The Belmont has asked him to paint a wall of the boutique hotel.
“It’s not always vandalism," Bowers said. "It's just decorative for that kind of thing."
Dallas police are working with graffiti artists to stop illegal tagging and designate areas for them to display their work. Taggers would sign an agreement — and possibly get recognition for their work.
Assistant Chief Vince Golbeck is heading the department’s anti-graffiti efforts.
“If they do this legally, there is a way we can find conduits where they can be recognized in art galleries, and possibly get some monetary compensation for their artistic skills," Golbeck said.
The city would have free walls where taggers could do what they want. But it’s a crime to tag anywhere, so not everyone likes the idea.
The department presented the idea to the Dallas City Council’s Public Safety Committee.
"I think it's really interesting that we are calling vandals 'artists' now," said Council member Sandy Greyson.
Greyson said there are many businesses tired of constantly having to paint over their walls. He thinks the city should work harder to catch the taggers and punish them — not reward them.
"So I have no sympathy for these so-called 'artists' that feel they need to express themselves," she said.
Dallas police say the writing is on the wall: Taggers will either cooperate, or they'll go to jail.