Graffiti artists protest unjust laws


On September 20, hundreds of people converged on Clifton Park in Brunswick to admire the work of talented graffiti artists.

The gathering was part of a "Don't Ban the Can" campaign, launched in response to the state government's new anti-graffiti laws, which allow $550 spot fines to be issued to anyone in possession of a "graffiti implement".

Police can also now search anyone 14-years or older if they are suspected of carrying a spray can. Protest organiser Jeremy Gaschk told Green Left Weekly: "The great injustice of these laws is the instant presumption of guilt placed on anyone for simply carrying a spray can. The police have been, in effect, given the power to persecute someone for pursuing their chosen art."

Across Melbourne, designated graffiti areas have been established through agreements with local councils and artists. The willingness of some councils to cooperate with local artists displays a recognition of graffiti as an art form; something that can enhance an area rather than detract from it. The new laws appeal to old prejudices and myths about graffiti and youth street culture that many in the scene have been fighting hard for years to dispel.

"For some of these artists graffiti is their livelihood and they have exhibited their work all over the world", Gaschk said.