Dear Representatives Kerr and Kerr: We Are All Graffiti Tools!

Categories: Art


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An anti-graffiti bill pushed by Littleton Republican Jim Kerr and Lakewood Democrat Andy Kerr was quashed in a House committee earlier this week after Lawmakers complained that the language in House Bill 1023 – which would make it illegal in Colorado to be in possession of “graffiti tools” – was too broad.

Within the fifteen lines of the bill, Kerr and Kerr (brothers from different mothers?) never bothered to include a definition of graffiti tool, only referring to a “tool, instrument, or other article adapted, designed, or commonly used to commit or facilitate the commission of an offense involving defacing…property.”

The city of Denver has long had an ordinance making it a crime for juveniles to possess spray paint, broad-tipped markers and glass-cutting or etching tools (a law that hip-hop fashion guy Marc Ecko pledged to get overturned in the summer of 2006 before turning tail back to New York).

The Kerr/Kerr measure would have included adults as well as minors in the state-wide prohibition of “the thing possessed,” as the bill defined it. Critics pointed out that nearly any painting supply or marking device – or any damn thing – could fit into such a gaping category. Jim Kerr defended his expansiveness, saying that taggers are crafty devils who would simply start using instruments not on the banned list. After all, police need the ability to adapt if vandals start utilizing, say, bathtub caulking or orange Cheetos fingers to mark territory.

By these standards, even Westword newspaper could be defined as a graffiti tool. For the past few months some unknown street artist has been sticking silk-screened black skulls (pictured above) on buildings around Denver that are printed on pages from your favorite local alt-weekly. Who's to know if a guy reading the music listings isn’t really planning some nefarious deed? Ooop, we better tell our circulation guys. They’re driving around with a whole vans full of graffiti contraband right now!
–- Jared Jacang Maher


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