New Law Helps Fight Graffiti

MOILIILI (KHNL) - You see it in just about every neighborhood across the state. Graffiti on buildings, walls and signs.

A new law makes Hawaii parents responsible for any minor who marks up property. The law states the guilty party will have to pay with time and with money.

Many people just hope it works.

Many people are fighting graffiti on their own. But now, they've got a new weapon, a new law making parents responsible for their children.

"In terms of what the Lieutenant Governor signed, we think it's great," said Ron Lockwood, of the group Totally Against Graffiti, or TAG.

The law states the minor, parents or legal guardian must remove the graffiti within 60 days and pay for the paint and materials.

"Since kids are under parental authority, the parents should be liable," said Edison Lopez.

"That's even better yet," said Donna Wedemeyer-Steele. "Go cover it up themselves with the paint and everything and maybe that way they'll be a little bit more aware of what their children are doing."

It also orders the minor to perform at least 80 hours of community service to remove graffiti from other areas.

"They've been arrested, slap on the wrist, $50 fine, they go home," said Lockwood. "This way, parents are notified, they gotta come out and do some work probably with our group and we're happy to take them along."

The group TAG is made up of community members in the Moiliili area.

He says seeing new graffiti over freshly painted walls is frustrating. But the new law will hopefully make taggers think twice.

"Do I think it's going to work? I hope so," said Lockwood.

"We'd be happy to go out of business," he said.

Graffiti falls under criminal property damage. It can be a felony or misdemeanor, depending on how much damage it causes. Penalties include fines and jail time.