Graffiti is the words, colors, and shapes drawn or scratched on buildings, overpasses, train cars, desks and other surfaces. Some people think it is art – an expression and extension of one’s self. Others see it as a gateway into gang activity or a way to mark one’s territory. What it truly is: a crime.

Graffiti comes from the Greek word graphein, which means, "to write." Today, graffiti ranges from simple, one-color monikers (like a nickname), called "tags" and repeated on many surfaces to complex compositions of several colors.

Graffiti sends a message that the community is no longer concerned with appearances. Consider the broken windows theory. It was first introduced by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, in an article titled "Broken Windows.” The title comes from the following example:

Consider a building with a few broken windows. If the windows are not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may even break into the building, and if it's unoccupied, perhaps become squatters or light fires inside. Or consider a sidewalk. Some litter accumulates. Soon, more litter accumulates. Eventually, people even start leaving bags of trash from take-out restaurants there or breaking into cars.

The same is true for graffiti.  If the graffiti is not cleaned up, and quickly, then more will follow. It becomes everyone’s nuisance and eventually leads to other crimes and neighborhood instability. Graffiti lowers property values, is costly to clean, and sends the message that we are not concerned with the appearance of our neighborhoods. 

You can take control of your neighborhood by quickly removing graffiti. Prompt removal reduces the chance of graffiti reappearing and helps maintain a safe, secure, and clean environment. Graffiti is not art. It is a crime, and it is punishable by fine and/or jail time.

The City of Amarillo has worked hard to address graffiti concerns, including:

  • Adopted a graffiti ordinance to provide ongoing law enforcement efforts to protect private and public property.
  • Established a volunteer board to study the issue of graffiti in the City of Amarillo
  • Conducted product testing and determined the safest and most cost-effective method of removal
  • Educating citizens on the importance of being proactive on their own properties
  • Launched “Take Back The Wall,” an anti-graffiti campaign that includes this website and annual city-wide cleanup efforts. This years city-wide cleanup is July 13, 2013.