Montclair To Address Graffiti Problem With “Stamp Out Graffiti” Reward Program

Graffiti defacing property has been turning up this summer in some very prominent places in Montclair, including on a building directly across the street from the Montclair Police station and on Boiling Springs Bank at Watchung Plaza.

Today, the Township announced that business and civic leaders have joined forces with Montclair to fight the problem by donating funds to create a “Stamp Out Graffiti! reward program.” The program will offer a $500 reward to anyone providing information that leads to the arrest of graffiti vandals whose tags appear with the greatest frequency.

    The tags are pictured below.

The program will also provide $250 for information that leads to the arrest of any other graffiti vandals effacing properties in the community. Those committing such acts will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law – the Police Department is actively investigating and prosecuting all reported acts of graffiti.

Stamp Out Graffiti

How does the program work? In order to properly ID a suspect, the Police would either need a clear photo or video from which identification can be made; a license plate of a vehicle that may be used by the suspect and that may belong to the suspect; forensic evidence, such as fingerprints, blood, saliva that was left at scene; or a witness that can identify the individual based on previous knowledge. A good description that could be used in a composite drawing is also a useful tool. Descriptors such as age, gender, height, weight, hair color, hair length, use of glasses, wearing jewelry, wearing a cap or scarf, hat, other clothing or footwear description, ethnicity, facial features, beard, moustache, tattoos.

Anyone who can provide information that will identify graffiti vandals who use the tags below or if you have information on any other acts of graffiti vandalism contact the Police Tips line at 973 509-4708.

First Ward Councilor Bill Hurlock, who with help of volunteers removed graffiti from stop signs, benches and other locations during his First Ward Clean Up/Beautification Day, says graffiti is a costly problem and that vandalism can be the gateway to more serious crime.

“There’s a huge cost to the town in terms of resources when we have to send public works to clean up graffiti as well as substances to purchase for removal,” says Hurlock, who adds that he would be in favor of a program where offenders are engaged in community service to clean up graffiti as part of their punishment.

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  1. Was sitting outside having coffee at Bluestone on Watchung Sunday morning. I looked up and on the very top of Boiling Springs Bank across the street graffiti staring me in face.

    Defacement of private (or public) property not good.

  2. I am so glad to read that I am not the only one who is concerned about the tagging all over town! I would be happy to join a volunteer clean up/paint over team!

  3. Why does no one address the real problem. Increased violence on montclair streets and vandalism are a result of poor community policing. Why is no one holding the police department accountable?

  4. Many of the kids at MHS and the middle schools know who belongs to these tags. It’s fairly common knowledge.

  5. They are mere childish scrawls. The likes of FrankGG might term them “art”, but it’s otherwise gratifying to see that other voices here see through this crap.

    If you’ve ever seen those “decorated” tunnels in Clifton, it turns out those are in fact an anti-graffiti measure. The county paints the base color on the tunnel walls, thne Explorer Scouts come in and paint all the fishes or whatever they put there. Does itwork?Well, visually it seems to. Certainly makes it harder for taggers to reach an unpained “caanvas” given that the designs go up so high.

  6. Great, next time I see someone spraying graffiti I’ll make sure to get a video of the crime, a license plate number, a witness who knows the offender, and a gob of spit.

  7. Ah, the community freak out always makes the kiddies smile.

    And tag some more, because why not? What better notoriety than to have the likes of B-net commenters demanding more police and willing to volunteer to “clean up” my art.

    The answer is squash the UNDERGROUND SPRAY PAINT INDUSTRY!! Use the Bloomberg approach, stop and frisk every Black and Brown kid, and target those Counties and States that have lax Spray Paint buying laws.

    And let’s start a spray can registry, so we know who buys the paint. Then put a unique chemical signifier in each can so we can match the paint, to the can, to the purchaser.

    But let’s start with stop and frisk!!

  8. Most experienced taggers know that it is illegal to bomb public and private property and that police have notebooks full of tagging data. Police identify tags and easily arrest the taggers. One of the artists that i’ve worked with went on a tagging spree and was immediately identified and arrested. It was quite irronic to me that he was required to do community service that was to work with kids to create graffiti murals in a public playground.

    Graffiti was born as criminal mischief during the Civil Rights Movement but today, tagging is usually organized as creative events on “legal” walls at designated locations like 5Pointz

    …. and taggers can go on “spray date” at commercial Graffiti establishments like Tuff City. s

    Today experienced taggers know that effacing public and private property is illegal and foolish and easily leads to an arrest.

  9. “Today experienced taggers know that effacing public and private property is illegal and foolish and easily leads to an arrest.”

    frankgg – “Effacing” means to erase (a mark) from a surface or to eliminate or make indistinct by or as if by wearing away a surface .

    Did you not mean “defacing?”

    Your comment is both ironic and a double entendre. Or perhaps you were just being “self effacing.”

  10. Tagging is for losers, complete losers.


    Im living in the city, inner city not a farm
    steady bombin til I get, fatigue in my arm
    watchin for the beast, cause many artists they shot em
    and beat em in the yards, while doin a top to bottom.

    As long as the youth thinks this sort of thing is cool it will not end.

  11. Frankgg, am curious…if as you wrote tagging easily leads to an arrest, why would there be a need to create a fund to pay people to give tips that would lead to an arrest?

  12. True that the identities of the Montclair taggers are well-known at MHS. A group of them have a tagging “ring,” which includes several members of a particular family. I gave the names to MPD some time ago…still waiting for my reward.

    One effective graffiti deterrent would be for the local post offices to give out their gummed mailing labels only on request. A fair amount of the local graffiti are pre-drawn on post office mailing labels and then slapped onto walls and traffic signs, where they can be hell to remove.

  13. Perhaps it’s the same group of delightful urchins that vandalize cars in the train station parking lots. I’d venture that it’s a relatively small group.

  14. Most taggers that I have worked with have served time for writing….and then have been asked to do community service that involved legal tagging with kids in public places….so that the newbee taggers get the message and find out that there are such things as legal walls and legal Graffitti events. I cannot fathom why police would have to pay $$$ to identify who the Montclair Taggers are since there is probably only a handfull of them and because most of their classmates know who they are. Most famous Bronx old school taggers call themselves Ex Vandals…. probably because many of them now are grandfathers, live in center hall colonials in NJ and would never dream of defacing property the way that they did when they were street kids in the 70s. These new generation taggers better get the message!! Listen to the elders!!!

  15. Frankgg,

    Sorry, but the idea that “Graffiti was born as criminal mischief during the Civil Rights Movement” is odd. (Not addressing the idea and potential death sentence that “criminal mischief” might befall a tagger), the obvious question is, why is this not common knowledge? I would imaging taggers wanting EVERYONE to know where their art originated. Rappers, DJ’s and MC’s all give props to those who founded the art.

    I do remember, and found it online, a NY Mag piece where I saw this idea before. I didn’t believe it then, and I don’t believe it now. That article (here: also mentioned the Black Panthers– now that makes sense.

    But to write it as being born of the “Civil Rights Movement,” is disingenuous because while one can include the Black Panthers in the movement– most folks are NOT talking about the Black Panthers when they speak lovingly of the Civil Rights Movement. (Keeping in mind that the movement lost it’s way in 1966 when the split between the non-violence vs. violence developed.)

    Moreover, a simple google search finds this: (It states, “The first modern graffiti writer is widely considered to be Cornbread, a high school student from Philadelphia, who in 1967 started tagging city walls to get the attention of a girl.”) Not as noble as the struggle for civil rights, but still.

    Still, your linkage is the issue here. I’m not going to argue over the start and direct meaning of an art form. But to write as you did is at best unclear, at worst reductive.

    Lastly, just as I would find a picture of the Mona Lisa indiscriminately shellacked to a wall offensive, while still art, I’d rather not be subjected to it.

  16. Dear Professor

    I’ve worked closely with two or three taggers from the 2011 NYTimes article and know that their tagging was an act of rebellion. MICO, in the article is known a a political tagger who’s work mainly was about rebellion, reacting to Watergate….homelessness and unjust politics.

    There were many civil rights laws that were put into place in the 1960s but perhaps these guys didnt see that life for them in the projects and as Fresh Air Kids in the 70s was so promising.

    Many of these older taggers have told me that they wanted to rebel from the situations that surrounded them as kids in the Bronx…and that they wanted to be famous.

  17. I hear ya. But I now believe that most folks who say they are “rebelling” against something, are justifying their illegal activity. I also don’t find tagging a door (as seen above) any sort of rebellion. Although I guess my reaction to it may say that it’s working.

    Still, I’m conflicted on this. I know it’s an art form. But I know it’s vandalism. So then I side with my perception of the art. I don’t like it. I don’t find it meaningful (MC’s at least are speaking so I can decipher their words, though far too many are banal), and I don’t see a comment on society ills, save for “I’M BREAKING THE LAW.”

    I’d feel differently if the work was confined to specific places in town. Ah….., Maybe. But I don’t think so.

    My honest feeling is that when I see it, I think to speaks poorly on the neighborhood/community. Though when I see kids with their pants low, I laugh and remember being a kid and wearing clothes in a certain way to be cool. It’s cute.

    But sadly, graffiti is never cute to me.

  18. Caro Professore….

    I confide my own opinion…. Graffiti is vandalism and especially the tagging done by suburban kids. The life stories of the 1970s and 80s taggers fascinate me and I feel that several of them are important artists because of a series of cultural circumstances. Keith Harring, who in my opinion, is less of an artist than some of the Bronx taggers, became a world famous artist simply because he was white…and would be listened to at press conferences and get into Studio 54. Most of the older Graffitti guys never became recognized artists because the Gallerists were trying to buy their art with drugs and sex… while these guys were trying to get themselves together and have families.

    Would I want my house tagged? Of course not!!! (I’m not free to do whatever I want with my house anyway because its a preservation effort)….but if some ridiculous fancy six figure tagger were to bomb it…. I’ll gladly sell the tagged portion at a Christies auction!

  19. As a teenager, I was fascinated by graffiti. Some of it is indeed art, and some of these inner city graffiti convicts are really kids from Wayne, West Paterson, Glen Ridge, etc that just have a talent.

    MHS students definitely know who these kids are. They practice their tags in their notebooks during class and usually start tagging closer to home before they venture out on Missions. An above poster was correct, these are happening pre dawn or in the middle of the night. Doubt you will get a good video of the crime. The pictures above show me that these are kids that have little to no talent, although they have the gusto to go out and do it. These are bad kids, not bored kids. The only graffiti that I see that may one day turn into art (if he/she hones their skills) is SAVOE. He or She is using a modified cap. The rest are using stock caps already found on paint cans and leaving a lot of drips. No talent across the board

  20. Yes, not a lot of talent, but I did laugh when I noticed the line of tags directly across from the Police Dept.

  21. There you go again, frankgg. (And you do have a marked tendency to wax sonorous.) You sound as avuncular about, basically, vandalism as Norman Mailer did in his woozy (and probably boozy) intro to the book “Watching My Name Go By,” and to as little real effect.

    You’re completely mistaken about Keith Haring too . He was a kind, talented man. He was even properly socialized, unlike the taggers you seem to admire.Which is more why he “got into” Studio 54. Even the cops hated arresting Haring. He made even the worst=looking, dirtiest subway stations a bit more bearable during his heyday. Taggers simply make ugliness more prominent.

    I also much doubt that graffiti “artists” from the 70’s are now residing in center hall Colonials amidst us here in Jersey. And linking this stuff to the Civil Rights movement is just ridiculous. That just sounds like the sort of pat nonsense someone who took Eldridge Cleaver seriously would spout,and you really should be ashamed of yourself for this one.

  22. Maybe MPD can visit MHS to make at least a statement or announcement. Not sure if that would have an effect but at least it would be making an effort.

    But that would require work and leaving the MPD Bloomfield Avenue clubhouse and napping quarters.

  23. Two points:
    Graffiti has existed since the days of Ancient Rome, so there goes the “civil rights” argument.

    This is NOT art. I t is purely and plainly vandalism, an should be punished accordingly. If you’re moved by stirrings of nostalgia of any sort for when NY quality of life crimes were out of control, you need to get a grip. I will admit that some of the old NY graffiti reflected true talent and was part of the zeitgeist, but that doesn’t change what it inherently was, vandalism. These local punks should get some meaningful community service time in addition to having to pay for the removal of this eyesore.

  24. Cornwallis, there are 2 MPD full time police that are stationed in MHS every day and their job is to do exactly what you are suggesting.

  25. While preventing graffiti is option #1, removing it as soon as it appears is equally important and is an option that is always available. Yes it is a drag, but If graffiti is on private property the owner should step up and remove it and not simply complain.

  26. Yeah, I’ve had to repair vandalism to two cars at not inconsiderable expense. One instance put me personally at risk. This is not hyperbole. I’ve had to have several contentious discussions with local teens bothering me for money while walking in the vicinity of Clary Arena, but since I’m an adult I can’t punch their lights out like they deserve anymore. Been noticing a demonstrable uptick in the graffiti in random places, but thinking about it, mostly near MHS or Mt. Hebron. Coincidence? Eh, no. All of this doesn’t exactly add to the ambiance of living here. The town is changing, and it’s not for the better. It’s been a long run, but I’m running out of patience with the local governance. I don’t blame the police at all. They do an excellent job of keeping the wheels from coming off, and their job is harder than most people think.

    My suggestion is that all Montclair realtors keep a can of paint and a roller in their cars.

  27. deadeye, perhaps you are thinking as I am, in that its time to list the house and move on from Montclair. The ratio and taxes and crime in town don’t make it worth it anymore. There are far nicer towns in Jersey that don’t have the “element” that Montclair attracts, enables, and harbors.

  28. I care. Redrum is right. There are nicer towns right nearby. I grew up in Morris county, put in my 20 in Montclair, so I have a decent frame of reference. My primary criterion for living in a community isn’t that they have good restaurants.

  29. “deadeye, perhaps you are thinking as I am, in that its time to list the house and move on from Montclair.”

    —thank you lord.

  30. redrum and deadeye give us all a break!!

    You are NOT going anywhere because of your perceived idea of “crime” in Montclair. NOT. GOING. ANYWHERE.

    So do us all a favor and stop with the faux outraged, “One more tag on a building and I’m leaving!!!” stuff. You both sound like fools.

    Or prove me wrong and leave. (But I’m sure you’re not going anywhere.)

  31. ” . . . ‘element’ that Montclair attracts, enables, and harbors.”

    redrum, fifty year ago yesterday, you may have heard, a black man had the courage of his convictions to stand in front of an entire nation and deliver his “I Have a Dream” speech.

    Hiding behind an anonymous name, you don’t even have the courage of your convictions to tell us what you mean by “element.”

    Just go ahead and pack your bags, head out, and ponder that for another half century.

  32. redrum, most followers of Baristanet know that you frequently focus on what’s wrong with Montclair, but Montclair is not experiencing the level of decline you imagine. Young families with kids continue to move here, renovate their homes, plant their gardens, and send their kids to the schools and leagues. Many become active in local functions and causes. The parents usually hold several degrees and earn high salaries, and they vote. Plus, we have cathar scowling in his Clifton basement bunker lobbing insults over the northern border on a regular basis while simultaneously reminding us that he is an expert in so many matters. All and all, it’s a great town.

  33. But STQ, haven’t you heard, “The ship is sinking fast, mtc, and there’s definitely not enough lifeboats.”

    Well jump in one redrum . . . jump in just as quick as you can! I’m getting the distinct feeling that you are not welcome here any longer.

  34. STQ, Paterson was once a great town as well.

    Also Im pretty sure population has been declining since 2000. Vacancy rates for commercial properties are off the lows but still remain elevated as well.

    While not a doomsday scenario, things are definitely getting worse and our budget problems leave no dry powder to address some of these issues.

  35. stayhyphy, Paterson had it’s day to be sure, but many believe the city’s decline was tied to the rapid loss of local manufacturing jobs. Also a factor – the riots in 1964 and 1967. However, I agree, the other problems you cite must be dealt with.

  36. Posting again instead of stacking up notebooks, Spiro?

    No matter how often you post, however, you’ll never be taken for the one thing you’d doubtless love to be taken for, witty.

    Try not to mention me obliquely in the future, too. If you want to to “talk” to me on this site, then wank away directly, there’s a good Spiro.

  37. My point was simply that a town’s fortunes can change and they can change rapidly for various reasons, a ballooning budget and need to charge ever increasing real estate taxes can certainly be a driver.

  38. I nicked that “oblique” method from you, cathar, so you should be flattered down there in your Clifton cellar. I’d cite multiple examples of your own previous utilization of this posting method, which are flagrant and profuse over the 10 years or so that I’ve followed your bitterness here on Baristanet, but I’m too busy, as you have duly noted. But thanks for the suggestion. I hope your french drain is working. Thunderstorms and flash floods are numerous in August.

  39. You got me Prof, but a confluence of events is pulling us out of town. Honestly, I can say that I would be fighting if I was not increasingly feeling like I don’t belong. I love our home and neighborhood, but if I wanted to live in Park Slope or the UWS, I would have moved there. Kids in private school, but that’s changing too. I guess when the mandatory anti-bullying/diversity seminar runs over two hours, you just got to bail. This place has become a liberal/progressive charicature of a suburban community. I like Christie, don’t like Obama, and that qualifies me as a minority here. So time to let Cunningham and his fellow travelers pick up the tax bill unless they’re renters, which would explain a lot. Bon Chance! And BTW, once we need to roll our short term debt, it’s game over for the tax payers. Too bad.

  40. And I hope someday, Spiro, that when you finally get in to see the Wizard, he teaches you how to write. (And I don’t mean “cursive.”)

  41. @ deadeye,

    You make little sense. Montclair has been known as a progressive, liberal community for YEARS. Hell in 1996, NY Magazine called Montclair, “the upper west side of Suburbia.”

    Or did you just move here because you liked Applegates (not an awful reason, mind you)?

    Not sure what Christie or Obama has to do with this, but I voted for both of them, and I suspect a bunch of folks in town did too. So stop feeling so special. You are not a minority.

    You are upset because you and the Town have moved in different directions. So rather than complain anonymously, I hope you can get it together, leave and be happy.

    Because for all its problems, I LOVE MONTCLAIR. And smile when I tell folks I live here (and I PUFF MY CHEST OUT when I mention the 20k+ prop taxes!!!!).

    I wish you well.

  42. Stayhigh was the nicest man. He passed away last year at 67yrs old and as his name implies, he stayed high.

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