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Graffiti in Our Communities

Graffiti can be seen everywhere in our communities, from abandoned warehouses and bridges, to school desks, walls and neighborhood homes. It has gained more exposure over the years through popular culture, and has become accepted by young people as a form of expression and art. At, we refer to “Graffiti” as the images or lettering scratched, painted or marked on public property without permission. This is a form of vandalism, and it’s against the law. We want young people to understand that no matter how popular it is, graffiti IS wrong when it’s done without permission.

Gang Graffiti

Gang graffiti is one of the most visible signs of gang activity in a neighborhood. It is often referred to as the “newspaper of the street.” Gangs use graffiti to communicate with each other, or with other rival gangs, and to intimidate innocent people and neighborhoods. They use combinations of words and symbols to promote themselves, make threats, challenge rivals, mourn fallen members, or mark territory. If graffiti remains in a neighborhood, it sends a message that “nobody cares”, and can make residents feel vulnerable or unsafe. Gang graffiti is unsafe and illegal, and should be reported by community members, property owners and business owners so that it can be removed immediately. Learn about our Graffiti Abatement program.

Tagging and Taggers

“Tagger” graffiti consists of “tags”, “throw-ups” and “pieces.” Many young people think that peers who are “taggers” are ok because they don’t call themselves gang members. They may admire the taggers artwork, or their bravado to perform tags without getting caught. But no matter how cool it may seem, it’s important to remind young people that tagging IS wrong and against the law when it’s done without permission. It’s important to report tagging or tags in your community.

Make the Right Choice sponsors many programs that help eliminate gang influences and risky behaviors in our communities by providing positive alternatives for young people. We encourage them to make the right choice, and to gain permission to produce their artwork. There are many Public art projects in Southern California, as well as alternative ways to for youth to express themselves without breaking the law.

We encourage all residents to take back their communities – report gang graffiti and tagging immediately.

Graffiti and Illegal Dumping Apprehension Award

The City of Los Angeles offers a reward for information resulting in the identification, apprehension and conviction or final adjudication of persons committing the act of graffiti vandalism or illegal dumping. Click here to visit the LAPD’s web site for more details.

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