From the Los Angeles Times:
“Internet gives graffiti vandals a global audience”
The arrest of one of L.A.’s most prolific taggers reflects a growing trend for photos and videos of the vandalism to be posted online.
By Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer May 28, 2008
The arrest of a man authorities describe as one of Los Angeles’ most prolific taggers underscores a growing phenomenon on the Internet: graffiti vandals who videotape their handiwork and place it on the Web for the world the see.
Detectives said they are increasingly dealing with tech-savvy vandals who use blogs, social networking and photo and video sharing sites to advertise their vandalism. Experts say the so-called “bombers” compete for the most outrageous tactics. “Buket” became an Internet star for tagging a Hollywood Freeway overpass, with cars zooming by 20 feet below.
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Devin Vanderlaan, the investigator who arrested Cyrus Yazdani, a.k.a. “Buket,” said he believes the explosion in graffiti in the Los Angeles area in the last few years has been driven in no small part by the Internet, which not only is a convenient way to show off your tags but pushes its boundaries.
“The whole reason they do this is for the not only for the thrill but for exposure, for the recognition by other taggers,” Vanderlaan said. “Now, by taking pictures or video, their homies don’t have to walk, drive or take the bus to see their tags. They go online.”
Indeed, Yazdani’s alleged videos have gotten more hits since his arrest. Yazdani was booked into the L.A. County Jail on suspicion of felony vandalism and could not be reached for comment.
Roger Gastman who has written several books on graffiti tagging, said the Internet has, in effect, helped to democratize graffiti.
“Social networking sites and the Internet have helped spread every culture and subculture to every nook and cranny possible and graffiti is no exception,” Gastman said. “Social networking sites have absolutely helped graffiti’s popularity. It’s everywhere. Graffiti doesn’t have economic or race rules anymore. When people think of graffiti years ago they thought of black urban and hip-hop. Now, graffiti is not defined by race or tax bracket.”
Tim Kephart, founder of Graffiti Tracker Inc., which catalogs tags for law enforcement, said he’s seen no evidence to suggest Internet posts have worsened the graffiti problem.
“It’s just another audience for these tagger to brag about what they are doing,” he said.
But officials worry that the daredevil tactics could get out of hand.
“Throwing up a bomb here or a bomb there isn’t going to do it anymore,” Vanderlaan said. “They are going for something crazier like hanging off a sign or building or doing it in volume.”