‘Failed Experiment’: Board Pushing Bid for Graffiti Wall Ban

A water district spokeswoman says the city approached the district about 15 years ago and asked if it would allow the wall to be used by graffiti artists

A graffiti wall in Portland, Maine, that once displayed a mural of Gov. Paul LePage as a KKK member, could be coming down. 

Some people who live in the designated graffiti area say the spray painting has gone too far. 

"It's a failed experiment," said Jay York, who is leading the charge to have graffiti banned on the East End wall. 

The "free wall" belongs to the Portland Water District. It was created as a safe space for graffiti artists 15 years ago, in the hopes that it would contain illegal graffiti throughout the city.

"It's only spread," said York. 

Now, there is graffiti covering the wall, but also on the East End trail. Spray paint cans litter the area leading to a beach, where rocks have been tagged. There is paint on street signs, garbage cans, fencing, and plants. 

"That gives you the idea for the respect, or lack of respect, that the people who use this wall have for the city of Portland," said York, who said his opposition has nothing to do with the infamous LePage graffiti from the summer. 

"I think a lot of people found [the KKK] mural offensive, but I have a high tolerance for that sort of thing," he said. 

He is asking the Water District Trustees to ban graffiti on the wall, and instead, allow one mural on the wall on a rotating basis. 

Trustees are considering his proposal at their next meeting on Monday. 

"In my opinion, something ought to be done," said Trustee Gary Libby. He said he's inclined to support art on the wall, but thinks the nearby area needs to be cleaned up. 

"That's vandalism," he said. 

Libby said he has received many phone calls from supporters of the graffiti wall, pleading him not to make changes. 

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