|Anatomy of a Vandalism Case - Part 3 - The Community's Role||Main|
|The Community's role in effecting change to lack of enforcement of graffiti vandalism laws in our city, is one of the key elements in the prosecution of this first criminal conspiracy case. It was a team effort with the county prosecutor and victims. The following exerts from various letters and petitions demonstrate the effective use of public opinion in exacting punishment to fit the crime.|
Park Neighborhood Improvement Group:
"A problem that has been increasing over the past five or six years is graffiti. As you well know, it has various effects on businesses, residents, and the neighborhood itself, and they are all negative. Unlike other problems, there is little we, as residents, can personally do about preventing graffiti. We can, however, call on public officials to increase or change priorities of their agencies to help better our quality of life.
It has come to our attention that there has been a plan, unexecuted, to arrest suspects publicly. We strongly support that policy, and urge that it be done as quickly as possible and as publicly as possible (I.e., involve as many interested law enforcement agencies as possible and as many arms of the media as you can). The message needs to be sent that graffiti, whether by gangs or individual artistes, is not acceptable and will not be tolerated anywhere in Sacramento.
Please use the power of your office to have the Police Department start multi-agency sweeps and help take the glamor away from graffiti."
"We greatly appreciate the District Attorney's office's aggressive pursuit of graffiti offenders and their allies and feel very strongly that the only way to support that effort and to stop the ongoing deluge of graffiti in Sacramento is to send a clear message to perpetrators that this is a serious crime and that they will be punished to the maximum extent of the law.
Mr. Howard and Mr. Martinez not only abetted the worst kind of graffiti offenses but also endangered innocent bystanders by their reckless actions. We commend the Police Department and the District Attorney's office in bringing the case this far. You are, however, the only one who can act on the community's behalf in making it clear that this is a serious crime that will not be tolerated. The BPNA Board voted unanimously to urge you, for the sake of all Sacramento neighborhoods, to provide the strongest of sentences in this case."
"Robin Michael Howard and his confederates are reflections of disdain for society and the rule of law. Those who surrounded him, embrace and applaud social degradation. Mr. Howard and his friends make conscious choices about their conduct in the early morning hours of May 12, 1997 ... Caught in the act of vandalizing private property Mr. Howard chose not the flee like most criminals. He chose to exact his own form of retaliation against the witnesses and victims, who dared to interrupt his crime. He did so in a most cowardly and potentially deadly way; behind the wheel of a two ton utility truck. While this first assault should not have happened, it could and should have ended there. Instead, Mr. Howard and his friends continued their crime spree. Under the watchful eyes of outraged citizens who followed them, they vandalized three more properties before being apprehended by police at 3:28 a.m.
The wanton disregard for property, both public and private, by the likes of graffiti vandal Robin Michael Howard and his confederates, constitutes a public threat. It is tantamount to criminal gang enterprise; victimizing the community as a whole. Until the community gains control of its streets, the real harm done to California's capitol city is incalculable.
You hold in your public trust
the crucible of justice served or not. Please, weigh that as you consider
appropriate punishment and restitution for Mr. Howard's act. In your exercising
the Court's discretion, please send a message to the likes of Mr. Howard,
that vandalism and acts of violence against our property and citizens is
appointed Community Watch
to serve as their spokeperson in court
and before governmental agencies.
made each court appearance
Restitution Taskforce is now following
The Midtown Business Association
|View Part 3 - The Court Process|
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