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Covering up hate graffiti
April 18, 2013 10:41 AM   Subscribe

Multiple swastikas and SS symbols have recently been carved into the wall of my apartment complex's laundry room. I complained to the landlord and nothing has changed. I want to cover them with something temporary so that I don't have to look at them until my landlord repairs the walls. I was thinking about something with an opposing message to the graffiti, like one of tolerance, even though I know I'm not going to change any white supremacist minds. Any ideas?
posted by quiet coyote to Society & Culture (27 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Cover the carvings up with painters' tape or something similar that doesn't leave residue. Putting a counter-message on there is basically goading whoever carved that stuff into an arms race that will make more of a mess than you already have. It's a lot easier to fuck up property than to repair it.
posted by griphus at 10:45 AM on April 18, 2013 [22 favorites]


Go to the hardware store, buy a small can of spackle and a cheap plastic trowel. Slather it on, smooth it. Repeat as necessary. It shouldn't cost more than a few bucks.
posted by mareli at 10:51 AM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Slap some Justin Bieber posters up over that shit.
posted by jabes at 10:52 AM on April 18, 2013 [21 favorites]


Maybe a nice art or text poster? Fight hate with beauty, etc.?
posted by mskyle at 10:52 AM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


Slather it on, smooth it. Repeat as necessary. It shouldn't cost more than a few bucks.

If you don't own the property, I seriously advise against fixing this yourself. Doing something like that can get your lease terminated/get you evicted, depending on where you live and what was on the lease you signed.
posted by griphus at 10:53 AM on April 18, 2013 [10 favorites]


So if it's done in your laundry room it's no big deal, but if it was done on a street thoroughfare it'd be a 4-alarm hate crime.

I'd be calling the cops and the local news.
posted by matty at 10:54 AM on April 18, 2013 [4 favorites]


Covering up is hard, because they can write over, or it will show through. Turn those swastikas into tic tac toe grids and the ss into the KISS symbol.
posted by 445supermag at 10:55 AM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


fix them by drawing windmills
posted by quince at 10:59 AM on April 18, 2013 [18 favorites]


[Folks OP wants advice on how to deal with them "ignore them" or "call the cops" is not really answering]
posted by jessamyn at 11:39 AM on April 18, 2013


If you want a permanent solution, wait and see if you can catch the perpetrator in the act, and take a picture of him. Go to your landlord with that pic.

Actual White supremacists do not go around etcha sketching swastikas in apartment laundry rooms.
posted by Kruger5 at 11:43 AM on April 18, 2013 [5 favorites]


Better than Justin Bieber posters, and inspired by The Kitten treatment on John Scalzi's blog - cover them with kitten posters.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:52 AM on April 18, 2013 [1 favorite]


If it's gouged drywall, spackle and a cheap trowel as mentioned above will do it for next to nothing.

If they're just printed on with sharpie or something, Kilz is the go-to coverall/primer.

If it's wood that's gouged, you can get wood fillers, but they're unlikely to match the grain/stain, so you'll still see them and will want to paint or resand/restain, and replacing it (if it were a piece of paneling, for example) might be whole lot easier.
posted by jquinby at 11:58 AM on April 18, 2013


[stop arguing.]
posted by jessamyn at 12:21 PM on April 18, 2013


You cover up graffiti with paint. The problem is, it's not your property to paint. I'd be hesitant to do that.

The landlord has an obligation to not only repair it but also to put the vandals on notice. It's his property -- HE should call the cops. I bet he would if you put a bunch of anti-landlord graffiti all over his walls.

BTW, the nuances of 'real nazi' and 'punk nazi' escape me. The latter become 'real' when the climate permits it. But it's irrelevant. Racist, jew-hating vandalism is intolerable, whether it's done by a nazi or a choirboy -- on the street, on the subway, or in the common area of an apartment house.
posted by LonnieK at 12:23 PM on April 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I want to cover them with something temporary so that I don't have to look at them until my landlord repairs the walls. I was thinking about something with an opposing message to the graffiti, like one of tolerance, even though I know I'm not going to change any white supremacist minds. Any ideas?

Since the wall is not your property, you are limited to covering it up with something like brown paper and painter's tape, as ablazingsaddle mentioned. Of course, the landlord is free to take down whatever you put up. Anything beyond that, such as spackle, is something you have no business doing. The same goes for clever suggestion about changing the graffiti into innocuous graffiti.

Frankly, this is not your property. You spoke to the landlord and nothing has happened, although I take from your question that he does plan to repair the damage at some point. He's probably not going to care if you put some some butcher paper, but he would have the perfect right to take it down if he wanted. I am a landlord, and I would be irritated if my tenant started putting up posters in common areas. This is probably something you will have to deal with until he fixes the wall. If that is not acceptable, you may want to move.
posted by Tanizaki at 12:28 PM on April 18, 2013


I would hang some plain fabric over it using some double-sided tape. If you want opposing symbols I'd look in the novelty section of the fabric store for repeat pattern of peace signs, world maps or clouds-in-the-sky. The same could be done with specialty paper from an art supply store. The key is the double sided tape. You don't want to wind up being responsible for any damage.
posted by marimeko at 12:41 PM on April 18, 2013


Kraft paper
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:44 PM on April 18, 2013


If you're going to spend a couple of bucks on paper, go to the dollar store and buy a few rolls of the most cutesy obnoxious wrapping papers you can find. Use a small piece of tape and some paper to cover over the graffiti when you go down to do laundry. Take another piece of paper down the next time. Rinse and Repeat.

There used wrapping paper with photos of fat smiling babies on it which had a really weird and creepy vibe when you viewed it upside down. Try for something like that.
posted by jaimystery at 12:50 PM on April 18, 2013


Write "I hate [] bigots" around each swastika. If they are too big, over design them. Add lines. Make squares, windmills, odd designs.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:50 PM on April 18, 2013


If you're going to spend a couple of bucks on paper, go to the dollar store and buy a few rolls of the most cutesy obnoxious wrapping papers you can find.

Totally up to the OP, but this could escalate things further.

I take issue with the idea that this just a bunch of punks being jerks in the laundry room. People who build pipe bombs can also be the same people vandalizing a laundry room. Not necessarily, but I'd rather not fuck with people who subscribe to a violent, hateful ideology and know where I live.

But if you want to stick your middle finger to these jerks, I admire your courage but think it's kind of a dumb move.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 12:58 PM on April 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


I think the windmills are a great idea for fixing a wall that you're passing once or occasionally, but for a case like this I would agree with those who are saying to avoid any escalation. You can probably assume that to some extent the perpetrators want a reaction, so you shouldn't give them one. I'd just put up the most banal, message-free poster I could find (kittens, beach sunset, popcorn movie poster etc.), using removeable painter's tape. This doesn't even signal that you've noticed the graffiti; maybe you just happened to want to stick that poster up there.
posted by pont at 1:31 PM on April 18, 2013 [2 favorites]


I'm not sure how big they are, but honestly I would put up something that is not an obvious "don't do graffiti here" backlash.

Maybe print a couple flyers that have local upcoming events. That way you can put those up and they seem more like "Hey look at the cool events happening in our city" as opposed to "this is covering something up that I don't like."

And the local events are more useful to others who use the laundry room, they probably wouldn't move the flyer to peek behind it. You can also hand write events onto a poster board or craft paper if it's large. Do it for the upcoming couple of months so you don't have to replace it often.

Since it has useful information it would probably also cut down on the chance that someone would tear it down, as they may for just a plain piece of craft paper or a poster. If you hang up Beiber or kittens it seems like you would be asking them to get defaced.
posted by Crystalinne at 2:56 PM on April 18, 2013


If you can't ignore it -- and I can understand why! -- kraft paper and paper tape, for two reasons:

#1: it is the kind of thing a landlord would do until it can be permanently repaired. Call your landlord and ask for permission. The people doing this won't escalate quite as much if it is covered in a "landlord temporarily fixing the problem" way, whereas if you put up the cute posters et al, they'll feel provoked.

#2: it is cheap and fast to put up, which is what you want when it's going to be torn back down -- because it will, either by the landlord when he finally fixes it, or by the person who originally did it. If you can (again, with your landlord's permission) cover it back up equally quickly, it might become a back-and-forth of fairly rapid and inexpensive proportions...during which you might, say, hear tearing paper sounds followed by a neighbor's preteen coming out or whatnot.

I'm not, NOT saying camp out to find out, but just saying that it will be very noisy and obvious when someone tears it down, and since you can put it back up just as quickly the odds are increased that you'll accidentally discover who it is. Even if you discover it by (noisily) putting up the paper, coming out of the room, and seeing a neighbor giving you a dirty look (followed, presumably, by tearing sounds after they go in the laundry room.)

One last warning, though: any solution other than "wait for the landlord to take care of it" runs the risk of the perp discovering that you care. That could result in anything from simple smugness in their head knowing they made you care, up to and beyond threats to your person. So weigh the pros and cons of any action before you take it.
posted by davejay at 2:58 PM on April 18, 2013 [3 favorites]


Make yourself some wheatpaste (approximately equal parts hot water and flour until gluey), grab a paintbrush, and quickly slap up a poster...kittens-hang-in-there or Visualize Whirled Peas or John Lennon or whatever.
posted by desuetude at 11:27 PM on April 18, 2013


I would personally go to the party store or the teacher's store and buy cutesy stickers and cover them up that way. It's double edged- besides covering up the graffiti, it gives the landlord a little extra work scraping the stickers off. If he knows stickers will appear 24 hours after a swastika, he might get a little more proactive about the swastikas. But I'm a passive aggressive jerk about these kinds of things, so YMMV.
posted by gjc at 4:02 AM on April 19, 2013 [1 favorite]


My apartment company is severely lazy and would never get around to fixing it, so if I were in your situation I would have no choice but to do it myself if I didn't want to look at it.

It really just depends on how involved and by-the-rules your landlord/management is. Do you feel like your landlord ever intends to repair it? If not, cover it with something innocuous and nonprovocative like brown paper or spackle it yourself. There's a time to play by the rules and there's a time to get things done. Which is this? You're the only one in your particular situation, so you'll have to make that judgement call. If you feel it's unsafe or unwise to take action, keep after your landlord in a respectful way that will get him to take care of the situation.
posted by i feel possessed at 5:22 AM on April 19, 2013


I suggest hanging a mirror over it. If you can afford to give away a mirror, that is. Maybe somebody will get a message.
posted by labberdasher at 9:41 AM on April 19, 2013


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