NO.rainnews.121418.01

Ronald Jackson walks in the rain past Banksy's "Umbrella Girl," 2018 in New Orleans.

In his Dec. 30 article on the restoration of the Banksy mural on North Rampart Street, Doug MacCash uses exactly the right word — vandalism — to describe the desecration of the painting. Unfortunately, MacCash’s description of what happened to Banksy’s art work reflects a vandalism epidemic throughout much of New Orleans, as is all too apparent in the photo of the Rampart Street building displaying the mural. Like so many buildings along St. Claude — occupied or not — this building is almost entirely smeared with “tagging” — scrawled oversized initials and names.

Permitted murals adorning the walls of many buildings and structures throughout the city beautify and enliven the surrounding neighborhood. But for every mural enhancing its setting, far too much unauthorized tagging has just the opposite effect — desecrating buildings — many of them historic, and adding to the dispiriting, blighted appearance of countless stores, schools and intersections throughout the city.

Unauthorized graffiti (tagging) is a felony throughout all national and local historic districts in New Orleans, but strong penalties are useless unless the law is enforced. Better yet, let’s significantly expand efforts to turn destructive tagging into city beautification — recently completed murals along the Tchoupitoulas Street floodwall, for example, show how much creative public art can contribute to the well-being of our city.

HARVEY STERN

retired city planner

New Orleans