Graffiti bill looks to turn tables on taggers - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Graffiti bill looks to turn tables on taggers

Pastor Joe Hunkin Pastor Joe Hunkin
Rep. Henry Aquino Rep. Henry Aquino

By Jim Mendoza - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Not long ago a white wall in a Waipahu neighborhood was a fresh canvas for taggers until the graffiti artists ran out of space.

"It's a daily war," said Pastor Joe Hunkin of Lighthouse Outreach Center.

Hunkin's fighting to take back the neighborhood a tag at a time.

"Almost the whole Waipahu, every wall, was tagged. Even the housing area," he said.

Hunkin's crew of graffiti busters roams Waipahu every Saturday, painting over visual blight. They gain the upper hand then lose it again.

Now they've got new ammunition..

State Rep. Henry Aquino is pushing House Bill 2129. It punishes taggers by turning the perpetrators into enforcers.

"It'll make people who do graffiti think twice," he said. "People who are convicted, they have thirty days to clean up their mess. If it's already been cleaned up by a property owner they have to pay them back."

Another punishment would allow a judge to determine how long a convicted graffiti vandal would be responsible for any graffiti within a hundred yards of the graffiti they got busted for. If anyone makes a mark, they clean it up.

"That's a great idea," Hunkin said. "If you get caught here, you're in charge all the way around here."

Aquino represents Waipahu and Pearl City, two communities hit hard by taggers. He wants to see the areas graffiti free.

So does Hunkin. His team's been Waipahu's unofficial graffiti cleanup crew for ten years.

The graffiti bill passed the House Judiciary committee.

It's headed for a vote by the full House.

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