By Aaron Blevins, 11/15/2012
A permanent injunction was entered on Nov. 7 against the Metro Transit Assassins (MTA), one of the city’s most prolific and destructive graffiti or “tagging” crews.
The final judgment, approved by Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Deidre Hill, will now allow the city to serve, and prosecute violations of the “tagger injunction” on any additional or future members of the MTA crew identified by law enforcement. The ruling also implemented settlements with eight defendants named in the injunction, entered defaults against two more defendants and dismissed a final defendant who was deported.
Under the settlements, the city is entitled to a modified gang injunction enforceable throughout California that would prohibit the defendants from associating with other members of MTA in public, prohibit them from possessing graffiti tools and require that the defendants obey an adult curfew. In addition, the members would be liable for substantial money damages and civil penalties.
The settlement requires each defendant to pay in full all court-ordered restitution for past graffiti damage, submit to an informational interview with law enforcement to enhance police efforts to investigate and prosecute graffiti vandals, and perform 100 hours of graffiti removal. Each defendant must also state that he is no longer a graffiti vandal. Three of the settling defendants have now completed all terms of the settlement and have been dismissed.
The city prevailed on all Constitutional issues raised by the ACLU in court hearings held in the case, and established that a “tagger injunction” is a valid legal tool available to law enforcement for addressing graffiti vandalism by tagging crews.
According to the Los Angeles Department of Public Works, tagging crews and taggers are responsible for much of the 31 million square feet of graffiti at 650,000 locations across Los Angeles. The city pays $10 million annually in clean up costs.