Tagger: Graffiti so common it must be OK
MADISON, Wis. - There's so much graffiti on a Milwaukee bridge it must be legal.
That's the argument a man busted for tagging a city bridge made to the 1st District Court of Appeals. The court didn't buy it and upheld his sentence Tuesday.
Police caught James Lawhorn holding a can of spray paint next to the bridge in August 2005. They found paint on his hands and fresh paint on a bridge column.
Lawhorn told Milwaukee County Circuit Judge Paul R. Van Grunsven he believed graffiti on the bridge was legal because it had been there for years, amounting to the city's consent.
The judge gave him six months of probation and 80 hours of community service. The presence of graffiti doesn't create consent, the judge said, noting Lawhorn also testified he knew he shouldn't tag structures and he dropped the spray can when police approached.
Lawhorn made the same argument to the appeals court, again arguing that since the city hadn't removed the graffiti from the bridge it must be legal. Prosecutors countered the delay is simply a matter of scarce resources and wasn't meant to promote graffiti.
The appeals court said a reasonable person would not think the city consented to graffiti on its property, regardless of whether it had removed the markings from the bridge.
"The city's inability to clean all of the graffiti from all of the structures that it owns in no way should be considered an abandonment of those structures," the court said.
Re: Tagger: Graffiti so common it must be OK