The owner of the Asheville Pizza and Brewing Company is considering showing the names and mug shots of vandals on the big screen as part of a campaign by local businesses to fight graffiti.
At a December meeting at the Asheville Area Chamber of Commerce dealing with downtown issues like graffiti, panhandling and litter, Asheville Pizza owner Mike Rangel said he would consider showing the photos and names of arrested graffiti vandals before movies at hs Merrimon Avenue cinema.
“It’s definitely something we’ve been kicking around,” Rangel told Xpress.
Rangel is not yet prepared to take the step though, saying it is important for his and other businesses to form a coalition to fight graffiti. A big step might be an agreement from theaters and other businesses to ban anyone caught tagging buildings. “So they know that, if they get arrested, they are no longer welcome,” Rangel said.
Meanwhile, the chamber is putting together a follow-up meeting, possibly by the end of the month, and hoping for more involvement from area merchants. Another idea floated in December was the distribution of brochures with the pictures of arrested vandals so business owners would know who to look for — and to make it easier to stop them at the door.
“If the community is moving in that direction, we would definitely bring that to the table,” Rangel told Xpress.
According to the minutes of the meeting, getting local businesses involved is only part of a larger scheme as well. Other strategies include putting pressure on taggers through their schools and in the courts and to work out some sort of system to quickly clean up graffiti.
— Brian Postelle, staff writer