Podcast | Inside the debate over graffiti in Seattle

What reporter Margo Vansynghel learned from talking to the mayor, the artists and the people who cover up spray paint over and over again.

Two men in bright yellow jackets painting over graffiti on a wall

Graffiti rangers with the City of Seattle paint over recent graffiti under the Dr. José P. Rizal Bridge on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022. (Amanda Snyder/Crosscut)

Graffiti is a part of everyday life in Seattle, from the smallest tag on a street sign to the giant letters greeting commuters along the interstate. But it is a part of city life that Mayor Bruce Harrell believes should be brought under control.

That is why he recently launched a new effort to address what he has called a dramatic increase in graffiti across Seattle in the past few years by increasing efforts to remove it and prosecute those who create it. 


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Earlier this month, Crosscut arts and culture reporter Margo Vansynghel dug into the new initiative and asked some of the complicated questions it raises. Through interviews with many of the players in this ongoing drama, she unpacks the debate between what is defacement and what is art. 

For this episode of Crosscut Reports, she joins host Sara Bernard to discuss her reporting and what it reveals about the ethical and artistic ramifications of a plan that relies on the government to decide what is art.  

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