Graffiti Not Art… It’s Criminal By Tucson Mayor Jonathan Rothschild

The recent desecration of the Tucson Fox Theatre and other downtown buildings by graffiti vandals, or taggers, infuriates Mayor-Jonathan-Rothschild_1everyone who takes pride in our city and our downtown.

The Fox, in particular, represents countless hours of effort on the part of Tucsonans to restore the building to its former glory. When vandals attack targets like this one – or any structure, for that matter – they are attacking the community as a whole, and the community needs to respond as a whole.

That’s why the City of Tucson put an additional $880,000 in its budget for graffiti enforcement and removal next year, giving us a totalof $1.6 million with which to fight this criminal activity.
Taggers are not misunderstood artists who just need a different canvas. They’re criminal vandals, usually over 18, who often commit hundreds – even thousands – of acts of vandalism. They are a prime example of the tremendous harm that can be caused by just one malevolent individual.

And, tagging may not be their only offense. In a recent case against two adult taggers, TPD officers who caught them in the act went to place them under arrest. One officer was thrown to the ground, where she was kicked in the back of the neck. The other officer nearly had his finger bitten off. Both suspects were ultimately convicted of aggravated assault.
The Tucson Police Department has a unit dedicated to catching graffiti vandals, and the city is committed to prosecuting these crimes vigorously. But we know what works best in dealing with graffiti, and that is rapid removal.

Taggers are motivated by seeing their tags get an audience – and presumably by knowing it’s an angry audience. Remove the tags and you remove the audience – and much of the motivation for this deviant behavior.

If you see graffiti in progress, call 9-1-1. To report graffiti after the fact, call the Tucson Police Department non-emergency line from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., 520-791-4444. To report graffiti anytime, download the MyTucson app for your smartphone or tablet on iTunes for the Apple iOS ( on Google Play for the Android system (

For more on this subject, including tips on how to make your property less attractive to graffiti vandals, check out a comprehensive report by the U.S. Department of Justice on Graffiti at