Should Graffiti Be protected?

Alivia Benoit

In your opinion, what distinguishes a work of art?

Graffiti has changed a lot since the 1970s, when people painted their work on bridge piers or subways, fleeing before security arrived. Clothing companies are now using it in photo shoots. Large companies use it in their marketing campaigns. Aerosol art has been rebranded with a classy new identity in galleries and sale houses.

The Supreme Court of the United States has ruled in favor of graffiti artists in the 5 Pointz demolition case

In Brooklyn, a trial began in October 2017 to decide if graffiti, despite its temporary existence, should be regarded as art and covered by federal law. According to Alan Feuer from The New York Times “The trial has pitted more than 20 graffiti artists whose work appeared in the beloved 5 Pointz complex in Long Island City, Queens, against the owner of the houses, who destroyed both them and the art adorning their walls.” 

As of  October 2020, three years later, The Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal from a New York City businessman who was fined $6.75 million for ruining the works of 21 graffiti artists at the 5 Pointz complex in Queens. According to Maria Cramer from the New York Times, “He was fined $6.75 million in February 2018 by federal judge Frederic Block, who found that he behaved knowingly when he demolished the paintings rather than waiting for demolition permits.”  No one is sure why they would not hear this case.