Despite death, graffiti ‘writers’ still want to leave mark

Part 1 of Miami Herald’s Graffiti feature:

The death of Enrique Vincente Olivera, a graffiti ‘writer’ who fell to his death from a sign overhanging the Palmetto, is a cautionary tale unheeded. The subculture still thrives.

South Florida’s graffiti spray painters are an agile community of adrenaline junkies, addicted to the rush of leaving their mark.

To local police, public-works departments and private-property owners, they are a menace whose self-indulgent scribblings result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in cleanup costs.

For years, they slipped through the shadows by night, faceless and unseen. Then, on Feb. 20, a 28-year-old man known as MERK lost his footing while attempting to tag a traffic sign overhanging the Palmetto Expressway near Bird Road.

MERK, whose real name was Enrique Vincente Olivera, plunged 24 feet to the pavement, where he died as early-morning motorists whizzed by.

His death cast a spotlight on a thriving subculture. In their world, spray-paint vandals are ”writers,” and marking property is known as ”bombing.” Cemeteries, churches and personal vehicles are off-limits. Status is earned by performing dangerous acts while demonstrating artistic ability.

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