LA aims to whitewash graffiti writers going legit

Graffiti marks the concrete walls of the Los Angeles river near downtown L.A.
Graffiti marks the concrete walls of the Los Angeles river near downtown L.A. Lord Jim/ Flickr CC

The Los Angeles City Attorney's office is trying a new legal maneuver to try to stamp out graffiti — it's charging 10 graffiti writers with violating unfair competition laws because they're selling works on the strength of reputations built on vandalism.

Assistant City Attorney Anne Tremblay says these graffiti writers — all associated with the MTA tagging crew — have an unfair advantage over legitimate artists because they gained notoriety through crime.

But Peter Bibring of the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California says artwork, like book or movie deals, is protected under the First Amendment's right to free expression, even when it involves criminals.

Cristian Gheorghiu (gay-or-Ghee-u), one of the defendants, says authorities are going overboard and are trying to limit his ability to make a legitimate living.

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