“It has been statistically proven that graffiti, if taken down within the first 24 hours after appearance, two times in a row, will not appear a third time in the same spot,” said TK Buchanan, community safety liaison between the University District and University of Memphis.
“I just call the owner, and he’ll have a guy out there in two days painting over the whole thing,” he said.
The business owners, who are promising to take down graffiti within 24 hours, get a sign to put in their windows that will alert the neighborhood that their business is taking an active stand against using graffiti to tag property.
The first round of signs has appeared in the storefront windows of some Walker and South Highland businesses such as Peddler Bike Shop, Garibaldi’s Pizza and Tiger Bookstore.
“The taggers will become frustrated and go somewhere else to tag,” Buchanan said.
The signs appear as the 12-by-18-inch, plastic variety often used for street side advertising and garage sales.
“The plan is to graduate it over to aluminum signs that are installed on posts outside the buildings where they’re more visible,” Buchanan said.
The message on the sign reads: “This business supports the University Districts’ effort to reduce crime by reducing blight. Any attempts to deface or tag this business will be removed within 24 hours of its appearance, and all vandals will be prosecuted in the full extent of the law pursuant code 39-14-408.”
A local gang known as the Latin Kings recently tagged the University District with their symbol of a four-point crown with a devil’s pitchfork.
The Normal Station Neighborhood Association contacted University of Memphis Police Services who in conjunction with the Tillman Station of the Memphis Police Department worked with City Services to remove the logos within 72 hours.
“In three days it was gone like it never happened,” Buchanan said.
Buchanan describes tagging as a sale ad where taggers advertise what they have to sell, what business they are on and who they are trying to eliminate from the competitive market.
“It’s a business model, and they’re getting a lot of bang for their buck in that little symbol. They put a lot of time into it — it’s formulated and precise.”
Buchanan explained if a tagger gets the symbol wrong, it’s almost impossible for them to bounce back from that and be able to tag again.
“They’re pretty careful with the penmanship and replicating it exactly everywhere so it absolutely is a talent, but it’s not an art form.”
Alex Carr, employee of the Whatever shop at 610 S. Highland St., said there is a distinct difference between graffiti and street art, and his smoke shop is a great example of a University District business that is doing it right.
Whatever is currently in the process of moving out of its home of more than 40 years on the corner of Southern Avenue and South Highland Street to the former location of Double Deuce at 555 S. Highland.