A victory in the battle against graffiti

Graffiti is a continual problem in Allston, Brighton, and across the city, so it is nice to hear this good news about a major victory in the Mission Hill neighborhood. This account of the situation was written by people from the Back Bay who volunteer a considerable amount of their time to keep their neighborhood clean.
On July 11, 2007, in Roxbury Court our friends in Mission Hill set a significant precedent with a felony conviction of Andrew White, tag TEL. White pleaded guilty to Vandalism of Property and received two years of supervised probation and restitution in the amount of $10,000 to be paid to Community Alliance of Mission Hill, representing the neighborhood, and Wentworth College. The restitution is to be completely repaid during the two year period of probation. Since this is a felony conviction, White’s driver’s license will also be revoked and if he should violate his probation or fail to pay restitution he will be facing time in jail.

This is the first felony conviction we have seen and were it not for the perseverance and presence of the neighbors in Mission Hill this would not have been possible. Bob Francey in particular was instrumental in putting together over 100 photographs showing how pervasive and invasive White was in his tagging and coordinating with Wentworth and Harvard to bring their evidence to the trial. As we have seen before in previous trials, White’s being sentenced this day was without much notice, as he only agreed to plead guilty to the recommended sentence late the night before. Fortunately several members of the community were there, and this was crucial as the judge who decided the case had heard one of the earlier pre-trial hearings and remembered the faces in the audience and the photographs he had viewed. Anne and I have been attending these hearings because we have also seen White's tags throughout the Back Bay neighborhood, as well as in Beacon Hill, Fenway and South End. Although White has not had any previous convictions and has a clean record prior to this, and his attorney argued brilliantly as to the harshness of the penalties, the judge agreed with the recommended sentence and gave the penalties requested by the assistant district attorney. One of the main reasons that White agreed to plead guilty was that the neighborhood and assistant district attorney would have brought both a criminal and civil suit for more than 200 incidences of vandalism otherwise. Since White has admitted to his tag being “TEL” he could be held accountable for all graffiti with his tag.

It is wonderful to see this result that we have been working so hard towards. White is a particularly prolific tagger and we hope that this severe penalty will send yet another pointed message to the tagging community that Boston will not tolerate this expensive vandalism anymore.


  1. Anonymous11:54 AM

    As a 5 year member of the Mission Hill/Roxbury community, I have to say that I'm dissapointed to hear of this conviction. Sometimes people get caught up in a "fight against graffiti" as if it is as important as a war on drugs (nearly equally as convoluted a topic). There is a large problem with people labeling graffiti as 'vandelism' without any thought. Tel has provided Boston with some noteworthy street art. Is there a difference between what he does with a can and some of the more poorly done examples? Sure...which is why it can be irresponsible to label his craft as vandalism. I always find it amusing that Boston is intollerable of so many things, being commonly known as such a 'liberal' city along with having deep roots in the art world. What Tel has been doing is bringing art to the streets and I commend him for a job well done.

  2. Of course graffiti should not be compared to serious drugs (heroin, cocaine, meth) or other much bigger problems in society. I was not trying to make that comparison.

    Public art can be a beautiful addition to the public realm. It needs to be done in appropriate locations and with permission of the property owner. People writing their names, initials, and other symbols on mailboxes, walls, fences, etc. is just plain vandalism.

    It would be interesting to hear about some of the other things that you think Boston should tolerate.

  3. Anonymous10:22 AM

    Grafitti IS vandalism. People should not violate other people's property. I have been fighting this form of vandalism in my neightborhood for years. There is not art involved. It dirties the city and invites drugs and other crime.

    Anyone who condones this form of crime should have to pay to clean it up. Then the shoe will be on the other foot, haha!

    1. Anonymous11:50 AM

      How can you say there is no art involved in something you have no experience with? Graffiti tells a story of many of the truest to heart artists throughout the city. These are people who are willing to take a risk to show someone else a perspective varied from their own, I don't know many things that get realer than trying to relate to others using the method truest to ones heart. Graffiti takes these individuals and shows the commoner where they have been, why they have been there, and what they were feeling at the time. Graffiti is a language that dances through the streets and adds life to our sidewalk. All I ask is that you learn the language before you judge the culture, you might benefit more than you think.


  4. Anonymous7:10 AM

    graff is cool

  5. i have just recently been arrested in the mission hill area for tagging. With the time after this i have been able to reflect on how hurtful this is to the community, my family, my school, and my future. I know that the community most likely wants to rip my head off, and after reflecting on my crime, i dont blame them. I have made a terrible mistake by succumbing to stupidity. i want to take this opportunity in order to apologize for the immaturity and recklessness of my actions. im not sure who will read this but hopefully everyone in the community will. I am in school at the moment and this has absolutely been the most difficult and influential event in my life, to date. i am willing to do anything i can to make it up to the community i.e.(painting over graffiti, talking to the community, cutting their lawns, or anything else i can do to reverse my wrong doing. I don't have any money to repay the community and honestly, i hope that the citizens in the allston/brighton will take this in exchange for my night of stupidity. I have realized that graffiti hurts more than i had ever imagined i had no idea how much money it costs to clean up and how serious of an offense it is. I am worried that the community will never be able to hear my apology, and if this a small step in repaying them there will be many good deeds to follow. Please email me at TRYINGTOHELP111@GMAIL.COM if i can help in any way.