10 March 2008
Operation Clean Sweep No Longer Monitored by Graffiti Hurts
A short while back, those of us at NoLA Rising World Headquarters located here in sunny and temperate New Orleans sent a letter to Graffiti Hurts, an organization that promotes meaningful graffiti solutions in the form of public works of art and for changing the environment to make it less hospitable to graffiti.
Comic book (-esque) arch-nemesis to ReX, The Grey Ghost, often touts the following award to members of the media as part of national recognition he has received for all of the good things he does. Please read and see what they have to say:::
From Graffiti Hurts
Thank you for bringing this to our attention. Operation Clean Sweep won a Graffiti Hurts award in 2004. We have not been monitoring the activities of this group since around that time.
Graffiti Hurts does not advocate any removal from private property without appropriate permission. Graffiti Hurts also encourages graffiti removal that matches paint, does not create a new canvas, and provides for changing the environment to deter further graffiti vandalism.
Keep America Beautiful, Inc.
In other news on The Grey Ghost Front, City Business has put out a call in the online weekly of 3/10/08 that reads as follows:::
Gray Ghost graffiti solution has problems
by CityBusiness Staff
Posted: Monday, March 10, 2008
Fred Radtke, aka the Gray Ghost, was once the welcomed wiper of all New Orleans graffiti.
Mayor C. Ray Nagin, New Orleans Police Department Superintendent Warren Riley, the Louisiana State Police, the U.S. Department of Justice and the FBI all praised his work.
“What he’s doing is work that the city would be doing itself provided we had the resources and manpower,” said NOPD spokesman Sgt. Joe Narcisse. “He’s covering up graffiti and, if the city had a team to do that, it would do so. He’s not doing anything that we aren’t asking him to do.”
Irked property owners disagree. They say Radtke is no different from the vandals he is fighting.
He began his one-man crusade in 1997 and now slathers gray paint on whatever doodles or obscenities vandals have scrawled on public or private property, including street signs.
Critics say they would rather see the graffiti than the splotches of gray paint Radtke coats it with.
“He may think what he’s doing is a corrective measure, but it’s unauthorized in many cases and doesn’t correct the graffiti, but just camouflages it with another color of paint. That’s the same thing,” said Lary Hesdorffer, Vieux Carre Commission director. “It may be with better intent but that doesn’t make it right.”
Radtke’s nonprofit Operation Clean Sweep is clearly dedicated to eradicating graffiti. Radtke, a retired Marine, is not a city employee or an independent contractor. The NOPD and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development frequently contact him to paint over graffiti.
Radtke’s civic involvement is certainly to be applauded.
In response to the complaints, he said he would obtain permits and the consent of property owners before painting over any graffiti in the French Quarter. He also agreed to match his paint to the color of each individual building instead of always using gray.
That’s a start. If he fails to do so, the NOPD needs to pull the plug on his assignment.
Radtke’s penchant for applying gray paint, even when graffiti is on private property, makes him a trespasser in some cases and a vandal in others. Breaking the law to frustrate lawbreakers is not a solution.
The Grey Ghost in Action Allegedly Destroying City Property - You Decide
Mr. Radtke has recently made incorrect statements about me to members of the press...among them that I am not a New Orleanian (but a person from Michigan who moved down after the storm to try and make money), that I was not a United States Marine, and that I wasn't ever a boat captain on the Mississippi River. All of these I answered with documentation proving that his statements were wrong, misleading and slanderous.
He has said of me in City Business and I quote: "Radtke dismissed Dingler’s accusations, called him a “loser,” a “phony” and the “biggest pain in the ass I ever met.” He said Dingler’s so-called “messages of hope” are “vertical trash” that promote other forms of vandalism. “It’s real simple: people either want to abide by the law or not,” Radtke said.
My response to Mr. Radtke's ridiculousness is simple...I have never met him though I have offered to. I no longer make that offer, however, having been the mark of his personal vendetta where he brought the police to file charges against me for illegally posting on telephone or utility poles...the very same thing that every music venue, everyone who loses a pet, and even the NOPD sponsored Neighborhood Watch does. The difference is that Mr. Radtke took it personal when I publicly questioned his ethics. We know have a case for selective prosecution should it become necessary to file and further clog up our already tired court system. And a man who clearly violates the city's definition of Violence to Property and Other Structures should really throw stones...
BUT WHO AM I TO QUESTION THIS SELF-APPOINTED MAN?
Excellent question. Considering Mr. Radtke receives city funds and is supported by the NOPD in his efforts, then if anything, he is city sanctioned. And when the city takes sides in what is admittedly personal vendetta, then they are then culpable for the actions of that man. Why am I able to question the methods of this man? Because I am New Orleanian just like everyone else living here and I disagree with his methods.
I personally believe we want the same things...a more beautiful New Orleans. Perhaps our ideologies on how to get that are divergent. I'd like to include people and assist in making New Orleans the epicenter for the cultural renaissance of our region. I don't believe that haphazardly sloshing or blobbing grey paint fixes the problem, nor does it work in the efforts to showcase out rich cultural heritage.
I won't publicly attack this man who dislikes me because I have made it known that his practices are questionable. Sure, I'd love to make up outlandish things about him like he has of me, but it doesn't serve the purpose of NoLA Rising nor does it do anything to enrich the quality of our city. Mr. Radtke's problems are of his own making and his own design. If he is losing funding as a result of the negative press he has received, then perhaps he should look at cleaning up his own mess and thought before he lept into action. Painting on peoples' businesses and seeing it as collateral damage in a war against graffiti is not a way to win a war.
Fact of the matter is, "Grey is Graffiti." The businesses that financially support him (such as Freeport-McMoran and Helm Paint Supply) need to recognize that and put stipulations on the funding and supplies they give him. Our position is simple and clear...grey paint is not a meaningful solution to the graffiti issue. Much like Sisyphus, it's clearly an exercise in his futility that apparently hasn't worked for eleven years.
It is your job to be involved in New Orleans the best way you know how. I won't ask you to believe in NoLA Rising if it's not in your prerogative...but I do ask that you believe in New Orleans and think about what truly is in the best interest of New Orleans when it comes to this issue. Sure, we have bigger fish to fry and that makes this whole argument that much more ridiculous.
I don't perpetuate it out of spite, but because I have the personal belief that what he is doing is wrong, that the fact that the city is sanctioning him is an inappropriate use of funds, and that his solutions are archaic and not well thought out. As an aside, the Broken Windows Theory Mr. Radtke uses as his argument has been rebuffed by knowing scholars, further proving the argument moot. On behalf of NoLA Rising, we are ready for this to be over so that we can move on to meaningful uses of our time, skill, artistry and effort. Thank you for reading this awfully long piece, we apologize for that and promise in the coming week pictures of art from the art party, pictures of art being donated to the cause of NoLA Rising, and pictures of a happy, growing, rising New Orleans.
All the best to everyone, Thanks for helping NoLA Rise,