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Irresponsible Article on 'Ozone'

May 27, 1988

Your article "Ozone Is Gone" by Bob Pool (May 7) was both irresponsible and disheartening.

You gave Christopher Coggan the publicity and notoriety he was looking for and made his "art" an inspiration for others to imitate. No doubt there are other "taggers" who are looking for recognition like Coggan, whose sole reason for his graffiti-spraying craze was to satisfy his ego: "I wanted to be famous," he states. As he readily admits, he did not think of nor did he care that he was defacing both public and private property with his graffiti.

Encouraged by your article, other "taggers" seeking to be famous will set out on graffiti-spraying missions to further deface the community.

Graffiti constitute vandalism, not art, because they deface and mar walls, bridges, buildings and benches. Whether done by gang members or "taggers" to satisfy their egos, they are still vandalism. Unfortunately, all of us pay the price for graffiti because graffiti create an eyesore in the community, decrease property values, scare and demoralize the community, drive away customers and businesses, and are an unnecessary expense.

Also, there appears to be a correlation between graffiti and gang activity. Gangs seem to gravitate to areas where graffiti abound, using these areas for illegal drug activity, which leads to terror, shootings and deaths.

The city of Los Angeles has recognized this ever-increasing problem by creating a long-term, citywide, anti-litter, anti-graffiti program called Operation Clean Sweep. Our program works with community groups who want to participate in cleaning their neighborhoods, combining city resources with volunteer participation to attack the litter and graffiti problem.

Our goal is to create a more pleasing environment that will improve the quality of life for all who live, work and visit here. Operation Clean Sweep has participated in more than 41 cleanup/graffiti paint-out events since Jan. 1. We realize it is very frustrating and demoralizing to paint out graffiti on a given day and return two or three days later to find your hard work with graffiti all over it. Our staff, who are spending time and city resources to organize and facilitate community cleanups, has experienced the same anger and frustration.

It is encouraging to read that Coggan is no longer interested in defacing and injuring someone else's property and is concentrating on using his "artistic talent" on murals. However, if he really feels remorse for all the graffiti he sprayed throughout the city, he can contact me at (818) 989-8121, Ext. 5197, and I will get permission for him to remove or paint over his graffiti without fear of prosecution.

ROBERT VALDEZ, Coordinator

Operation Clean Sweep

City of Los Angeles

On May 13, Coggan was arrested on a charge of felony vandalism.

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