Guerrilla effort afoot to shine spotlight on graffiti — and spur lawmakers to do more

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - There's an effort afoot to put more pressure on lawmakers to crack down on graffiti.

In Waikiki and Chinatown, an anonymous group has posted hundreds of signs on graffiti that urge passersby to "Stop Graffiti" with calls to their state representatives or City Council members.

The signs claim current graffiti laws aren't working and urge residents to call for tougher measures.

Councilwoman Ann Kobayashi acknowledges that graffiti has been put on the back burner as the city grapples a host of other issues.

She also said calls to her office about issues with homelessness drastically outnumber graffiti complaints, and she contends laws currently on the books are sufficient. "We just have so many laws. So many penalties," said Kobayashi.

Not everyone agrees.

Nathan Suganuma and his grandson were walking near the Safeway on Kapahulu Avenue, and shocked at the amount of graffiti on buildings.

Vandals are using walls, windows and street signs as their canvas in neighborhoods across Honolulu.

"It just spoils the buildings," he said. "We were just counting how many times we could see graffiti from here all the way to Waikiki Beach."

Resident Tim Fox agreed.

"You just want to catch whoever is doing this," he said.

Under state law graffiti, is classified as criminal property damage. On top of possible jail time and a fine, violators may also have to remove the graffiti and perform community service. Parents can also be held responsible if their child is convicted.

A police spokesperson says enforcement is conducted by both plain clothes and uniformed officers.  And the department meets quarterly to discuss graffiti activity in each district of the island.

Since the first of the year, HPD initiated 247 graffiti reports and made 22 graffiti arrests.

HPD says if you see graffiti activity in progress, call 911 and try to get a description of the suspects and vehicles. To report graffiti, you can also call HPD's graffiti hotline 723-3475.

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