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Aldermen Tell Merchants To Lock Up Their Spray Paints

August 1, 1985

LAWRENCE, Mass. (AP) _ Tired of paying $50,000 a year to scrub graffiti off walls, aldermen have passed an ordinance barring the sale of indelible ink markers and spray paints to minors.

″A few people say it’s art. Well, if it’s art, why don’t they pick up the cleaning tab?″ asked Alderman Anthony Silva, who sponsored the ordinance passed unanimously Tuesday by the five-member city council.

The ordinance will go into effect Sept. 8. It carries a fine of up to $300 for each violation by merchants, who may sell spray paint and indelible markers only to minors accompanied by parents or guardians. Otherwise, stores must keep the cans and markers under lock and key.

″Are you kidding? I’ve got hundreds of cans. Are they going to supply the cabinets?″ said Charles Samra, manager of Samra Home Decorating Center. ″I’ll watch who I sell them to, but there’s no way I can lock them up. I don’t have the store space.″

On July 3, the New York City Council signed into law a similar measure prohibiting the sale of spray paint cans and felt-tip markers to minors. The measure also required merchants to lock up the cans.

The New York law goes into effect in October and carries fines up to $500.

Silva, who heads the city’s parks department, said he borrowed the idea because he was fed up with artists who cost Lawrence thousands of dollars every year removing their work from city walls.

″You paint a whole school, and two weeks later every bathroom and corridor is loaded with Magic Marker,″ he said.

Silva conceded that his measure will inconvenience stores, but said, ″The only way to stop the problem is to attack the source. The source is stores where cans are purchased.″

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