Shattering the Broken Window

Is the War on Graffiti an Extreme Makeover?

On his website, Willis admits to being inspired by Giuliani and, of course, the "broken window" theory. Sadly, the councilman and Mayor Shirley Franklin are also using this theory for their coinciding agendas to get tough on panhandling, and even feeding the homeless in public. They want police who patrol Woodruff Park in downtown Atlanta to turn away people who try to feed the homeless there. Franklin and Willis said the food drives were in violation of health codes and created public disturbances.

When politicians are out to get some ink by trying to wipe out the ancient art, their moves are arbitrary at best, and aimed primarily at commercial districts. They don’t include trying to clean up writers’ neighborhoods.

That’s one of several problems with the "broken window" theory—it usually only applies to the touristy parts of town. Inner city residents only know of their cities’ increased anti-graffiti efforts when their sons get stiff sentences for trying to have a voice.

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