At a recent Grand Rapids City Commission meeting, Mayor George Heartwell warned graffiti artists that “You tag us, we’re going to tag you harder. We will find you, and it won’t be to recognize you as an artist.”
The statement makes Heartwell the most recent City official to comment on graffiti in the City. The issue first came to prominence back in February when five artists were arrested and a “crackdown” on graffiti was promised by the City and the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD). Since that time, at least four artists have been arrested, with the most recent arrests being announced two weeks ago. Moreover, the City has been painting over graffiti at an increased speed and has spent $60,000 in the last year covering it up.
The crackdown does seem to be working. There has been noticeably less graffiti in the downtown area over the past six months and as a whole, graffiti seems to have declined since its peak in 2003.