Small-town Chapel Hill Police Scape-Goat Anarchists for Graffiti and Higher Rents

<table><tr><td>From <a href="http://www.chapelhillnews.com/2012/03/10/70539/graffiti-on-the-rise-carr... Hill News</a>

<em>Graffiti on the rise, Carrboro police chief says</em> - By Mark Schultz

CARRBORO - Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison is convinced the problem is getting worse. “It’s on buildings. It’s on signs. It’s on bike paths. It’s on private property. It’s on public property,” she says.
Nathan Milian rattles off the spots:

There’s the loading dock outside the DSI Comedy Theater, the transfer box behind Harris Teeter, the wall on the old Fleet Feet building facing the railroad tracks.

The property manager at Carr Mill Mall knows the spots because he spends a lot of money cleaning them up. Last year, he estimates, he spent $3,000 removing graffiti and glued-on fliers.</td><td><img title="You'd think you'd get a volume discount" src="http://anarchistnews.org/files/pictures/2012/snoopy.jpg"></td></tr></tab...

“It used to be once in a blue moon,” Milian said. “Now it’s almost weekly. ... In many instances it requires repainting a whole wall.”

The Carrboro Police Department has received 14 graffiti complaints this year. Last year, from March through December, the town received 35 complaints.

The numbers don’t reflect all incidents because some property owners and tenants don’t report graffiti.

Police Chief Carolyn Hutchison is convinced the problem is getting worse.

“It’s on buildings. It’s on signs. It’s on bike paths. It’s on private property. It’s on public property,” she said.

“It’s everywhere.”

Anarchists

Hutchison blames anarchists for much of the graffiti increase.

”Anarchists have claimed the area and are marking their territory,” she told town officials in an email this month.

Their symbols – a capital letter A, sometimes inside a circle; a skull with an A on the forehead – show up frequently. A big skull spray painted on the yellow back wall along Merritt Mill Road has looked out over a vacant lot for months.

Neal Richards, a local anarchist who participated in the Yates Motor and CVS demonstrations, referred questions about graffiti to Internet websites. Many sites confirm the anarchist connection to the letter A and skull symbols.

The local anarchists have been under fire from some residents since a group of self-described “anti-capitalist” activists broke in to the former Yates Motor Co. buildings on West Franklin Street and the former WCOM radio station building bought by CVS for a future drug store on North Greensboro St.

CVS put up a fence after the February incident, but that didn’t stop someone from climbing over and spray painting “Strike Occupy Resist” on the particle board covering the glass front doors. The March 3 incident is the most recent act on the Police Department’s graffiti list. The town spent $33.32 to remove it, according to bills for paint rollers and other supplies from Fitch Lumber.

In an interview, Hutchison said she doesn’t want to say all that police are doing or may do.

Officers have looked for graffiti taggers, she said. But much of the activity happens between 2 and 6 a.m., and the department, authorized at 41 officers, has two positions frozen and two more vacant.

“The best case is that you catch them in the act ... but again, where do you look? And how many officers do you want to have doing that?” Hutchison said.

“It’s easy,” she added. “It’s a very quick crime to do.”

Main Street mess

Photographer Jesse Kalisher’s gallery has been on Main Street nearly four years, and graffiti has been a problem from the start, he said.

“We get it on the Dumpster. We’ve had it on the door. We’ve got it in a bunch of places,” Kalisher said.

Former Carrboro police officer Paul Atherton, when he was on the force, would often get out of his truck and personally clean the graffiti.

“He said he used brake fluid or something,” Kalisher said, “and it worked.”

But now the graffiti taggers have hit the building’s brick walls. Kalisher said his landlord will have to repaint at a likely cost of several thousand dollars – and then repaint if the taggers strike again.

“I don’t think it’s the town’s responsibility to remove the graffiti,” Kalisher said. “That’s not my decision to make. I will say l think it’s the town’s responsibility to come up with a plan to fight the graffiti.”

Carrboro spends about $3,000 a year removing graffiti and stickers from public property, said street superintendent David Poythress.

The sticker adhesive can be a bigger problem than spray paint because when applied to metal, it can damage a sign’s reflectivity, he said. When that happens, the town has has to replace the sign.

‘The small stuff’

In Chapel Hill, police spokesman Lt. Kevin Gunter says the town can’t document a graffiti trend.

The department recorded 20 incidents in the downtown business district in 2011, the same as in 2009, according to police reports. There was only one reported incident in 2010.

In all of Chapel Hill, there were 63 total graffiti incidents in 2010 and 2011, versus 50 cases in 2009, Gunter said.

Police can’t extract how many incidents may have been anarchist-related or explain the single graffiti incident recorded for the downtown business district, Gunter said.

But, as in Carrboro, many incidents don’t reach police.

Meg McGurk, the assistant director for the Chapel Hill Downtown Partnership, thinks she has seen an uptick in the past year, though not necessarily anarchist related.

“It wasn’t like the big stuff,” she said. “It was the small stuff – literally tagging on everything.”

The partnership sends out volunteers who remove graffiti several times a year she said.

And personally McGurk says she has mixed feelings about graffiti as a form of expression.

“I absolutely adore street art,” she said. “I do see some of it as artistic expression, but it’s hard when it’s just a scrawled word on every street light, on every street sign.”

Higher rents

Milian, the mall manager, said the taggers don’t realize who they’re hurting.

Landlords pass cleanup costs on to their tenants, “their own neighbors,” in the form of higher rent, he said.

Kalisher, who recently wrote to town officials about his experiences, wants to see police or someone do more.

The town should consider forming a public private partnership to attack the problem or having certain types of criminal offenders clean it up as community service, he said.

“If you let the graffiti take over, it sends the message the town doesn’t care, that the people who live here don’t care,” Kalisher said.

“If you let small things go, it sends the wrong message, and you end up with bigger problems on your hands.”

Schultz: 919-932-2003

Comments

“I absolutely adore street art,” she said. “I do see some of it as artistic expression, but it’s hard when it’s just a scrawled word on every street light, on every street sign.”

Fuck street art, free Zeb: http://pugetsoundanarchists.org/node/793

James Q. Wilson, co-originator of the Broken Windows Theory, died a week ago. FUCK THIS SHIT!

A more interesting story from our neck of the woods, that for some reason anews refuses to put up (?!):

Raleigh, NC: Striking Prisoners Asking for Support, Call In Day and Demo Announced

On December 16th, 15 prisoners working in the kitchens at Central Prison, in Raleigh, sat down on the job in protest of the hours, lack of gain time, and working conditions. Prisoners in these kitchens are made to work ten hours a day, seven days a week. The strikers refused to go back to work until questions were answered regarding their hours and gain time. Instead of addressing their concerns, the head kitchen corrections officer told the men to, “get [their] sorry asses back to work,” and called in for backup. This is the same facility where a scandalous media report on conditions in the mental health ward forced Warden Branker into early retirement.

Despite the peaceful nature of the protest, guards soon came and threatened the men into returning to work. Eight of the men, however, continued to refuse to work until their questions were asked. These men were charged with “disobeying a direct order” and “work refusal,” and placed in solitary cells. Just a few days ago, the men were given an abrupt disciplinary hearing, in which they were railroaded into I-Con (Intensive Control) as punishment. I-Con is an intensive form of segregation, typically 23 hours a day in a small solitary cell, with few if any resources available, constantly censored mail, and little recreational activity. Sentences on I-Con often last 6 months or longer. One prisoner wrote about the hearing, “I tried to plead my case to the hearing officer, but it didn’t matter. She didn’t even listen. It was already pre-arranged what the outcome would be. It amazes me what Central Prison gets away with. They don’t even care about policy. They do what they want.”

The men who refused to return to work are calling themselves the “Strong 8,” and have been in touch with outside support groups to spread news of and ask for solidarity in their struggle. It is clear that the attempt to isolate and repress these men’s strike is an effort to intimidate any efforts at organizing on the inside before they start. The struggle to get these men off of solitary is about more than just the freedom of these 8 men – it is about the use of solitary confinement as a tool for political intimidation, prisons as a form of forced labor, and the “new jim crow” of the contemporary prison-industrial complex.

Outside supporters are initially calling for several different approaches to get these men off solitary. First, there will be a mass call-in day to both the prison warden and the NC Director of Prisons on Wednesday, March 14th. This is being heavily publicized both regionally and nationally – we’re hoping that those who are too far away to attend demonstrations will help out in other ways. The contact information for these call-in days is below:

Central Prison Warden Ken Lassiter

ph:(919) 733- 0800

fax: (919) 715-2645

NC Director of Prisons Robert C. Lewis

ph: (919) 838-4000

fax: (919) 733-8272

Second, there will be a demonstration outside of Central Prison, at 1300 Western Blvd. Raleigh, NC 27606, on Sunday March 25th at noon. We encourage people to bring signs, banners, and drums and noisemaking devices of all kinds. The prisoners have explicitly asked for some banners and signs to read, “Free the Strong 8 Kitchen Workers” and “Fire Mr. Rice.” The protest will be during visiting hours, so we hope to directly spread word of support for the strike throughout the inside via family members, as well as increase pressure on the administration to return the men to general population.

Thirdly, we are asking for people to conduct a massive media and internet outreach campaign around this strike and the subsequent punishment of the workers. Administrations get away with this kind of thing in part by sweeping news of any and all prison resistance under the rug, so that family, friends, affected communities, and other prisoners don’t hear about it. Please spread news of this struggle by any and all websites, newspapers, radio stations, and other media outlets you can think of.

The struggle to get these men off solitary won’t stop with these small actions; this is likely just a beginning. It goes without saying that any and all acts of solidarity and support are encouraged. We will continue to post and send out more information as it is available, both from the inside and outside. To see the original post of the story and find future updates, you can go to prisonbooks.info.

Until Every Cage is Empty,

Against Prisons and the Society that Builds Them,

some NC anarchists against prisons

Gotta make your things shorter if you want ppl to read them and help...

Um, its like a page. And in any case thats no reason not to post it as a story...theres posts on this site all the time that are twenty times longer....And folks deserve an explanation about the strike - i mean, this is an anarchist site right? Isnt that why folks are reading it, to learn about whats going on?

To don't be defensive, I was trying to be helpful. Geez.

I'm imagining a children's book: "Anon Tries to Be Helpful."

if there was some way to contact the prisoners themselves, that would be something I'd like to do to help

working on it - its a lot of different prisoners and some may not wish their name to be floating around in media land, some probably are into it. updates will be posted at prisonbooks.info (and here, if the site posts the story...)

I'm envisioning a poster:
In block letters on top: "DO MORE"
and on the bottom "GRAFFITI"
In the middle, a nice silly close up of the police chiefs face with a quote bubble saying:
“It’s easy,” she added. “It’s a very quick crime to do.”

oh my god that is brilliant I love you

What I found most interesting about the story was Nathan Millian's comments about how they (the anarchists and shadowy persons-unknown) don't realize that they are hurting the small man because property owners pass the cost of graffiti removal on to the renters by raising rents. Upon further research I found out that Nathan Milian owns a company that exclusively rents space to commercial capitalist enterprises. He is not being forced to raise rents on families and kicking out children into the streets. Since he exclusively owns commercial property his argument is that graffiti is hurting the small businessman who is trying to accumulate wealth at the expense of hoards of wage-labor slaves and brain-washed consumers because Nathan Milian, a master of property who profits from the space that lesser profiteers pay to occupy, is unwilling to accrue an expense brought about by graffiti artists who rebel against the system to which he owes his privilege.
Maybe it would be in his best interest to assume the cost of removing the graffiti so that his renters don't move elsewhere.
Maybe it would be in anarchists' best interests to keep annoying the property owners and those who operate capitalist enterprises on those properties.
I think this article, rather than addressing a problem, exposes a weakness in the power structure of the Chapel Hill community.
So go exploit it.

Under capitalism, everyone charges everyone else the maximum price they possibly can--the maximum the market will support. The idea that costs are passed on to consumers or renters is nonsense.

Disliking capitalism is no excuse for not understanding how it operates.

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