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How Raleigh Is Handling Its Graffiti

An image of somebody spraypainted a wall
Creative Commons

A bill is moving through the state legislature that would make graffiti a felony offense for a third-time offender. Under House Bill 552, anyone who has two or more prior convictions for graffiti vandalism could face up to 39 months in jail.

Chris McGee is Raleigh's Transportation Field Services Manager and oversees the city's graffiti removal efforts. He says Raleigh is a university city, so his department sees people "tagging" their school colors on properties.

“I don't know if I am qualified to give an opinion about whether it should be a felony but I do think something is needed that is probably a little bit stiffer than what we have now," McGee said. "Now the flip side of that is if you have a high school that’s out tagging his school colors, do you really want to charge a high school student with a felony the third time he sprayed paint on the back of a sign because he’s the Class of 2020?”

McGee said the City of Raleigh spends about $400,00 a year on graffiti removal. House Bill 552 has passed through the House and Senate and Gov. McCrory is expected to sign it into law.

Phoebe Judge is an award-winning journalist whose work has been featured on a numerous national radio programs. She regularly conducts interviews and anchors WUNC's broadcast of Here & Now. Previously, Phoebe served as producer, reporter and guest host for the nationally distributed public radio program The Story. Earlier in her career, Phoebe reported from the gulf coast of Mississippi. She covered the BP oil spill and the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina for Mississippi Public Broadcasting and National Public Radio. Phoebe's work has won multiple Edward R. Murrow and Associated Press awards. Phoebe was born and raised in Chicago and is graduate of Bennington College and the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies.
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