Anatomy of a Vandalism Case - Part 3 - The Community's Role Main 
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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. 
Neighborhood Associations
petitioned the District Attorney
for aggressive vandal prosecution.
September 11, 1997
Washington 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."

Boulevard Park Neighborhood Association: 

"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."

Associations supported victims 
in letters to the presiding judge. 
September 12, 1997
Over 200 Sacramento citizens
business leaders and victims
appealed to the court
Community Watch Graffiti Taskforce:  

"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 unacceptable." 

Vitctims appointed Community Watch 
to serve as their spokeperson in court 
and before governmental agencies. 

Volunteers made each court appearance 
and maintained constant contact with the 
trial attorney in the various cases. 

The Restitution Taskforce is now following 
through with Revenue and Recovery and  
the Probation Department to collect for victims.

The Midtown Business Association Appreciation
Thoughtful but the real credit belongs to our Police, the District Attorney's
office when things go right the victims and Community who insist justice be done.


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  View Part 3 - The Court Process

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