I’m Torn…


Isn’t it a good thing when positive action rises up out of adversity? Don’t I normally celebrate when people make the best of a difficult situation? Doesn’t the challenging part of an issue make it all worthwhile when it awakens others to change? Absolutely! This one is tough; however, because it is riddled with complicated factors.

Tagging, graffiti, vandalism, mischief, art, criminal behaviour, creativity – there are two polar opposites to this dilemma. I wrote last year about this very topic, when a newly painted neighbouring commercial building was vandalized by graffiti artists. This, on top of brick on our decades old building being tagged with spray paint, set me off.

As a former police officer, I understand the frustration, tax dollars, paperwork, reports and police resources that go into taking public complaints, investigations and charging those responsible for graffiti and property damage.

Coming from a family of small business owners, I get infuriated when our commercial recycling containers, buildings and dumpsters have been recently spray painted, in the name of art, creativity or youth sending the community a ‘message’.

It was also confusing when a number of charges were laid on this young person who is family to small business owners themselves. I cannot imagine being the parent or family of this youth. Anger? Guilt? Frustration? Embarrassment? Disbelief? I believe that none of us are in a position to judge anyone else. Each individual is responsible for his or her own actions.

Unfortunately, though, there has been plenty of judgment in this matter for all of the above reasons, and more.

It mainly concerns me, though, that an individual, charged with over 40 offences, appears to be elevated into somewhat of a hero for successfully getting the public’s attention about youth issues (at least from the youth’s perspective). Could this be because these youth are not yet owners of any real estate property? If the court; however, takes these charges seriously, this young man may have just put a significant dent into his future life plans, in the midst of his heroic efforts.

The only thing I know for sure; however, is that, regardless of what is about to transpire in the court system, pertaining to this one individual responsible for a number of graffiti incidents in our community, it has sparked a movement of young people who are speaking up and acting on this issue.

On Monday morning at 9am, there is a ‘WeAreBORED Gathering’ in front of the court house, sparked by a group of volunteers, which is apparently intended to support youth engagement in Sault Ste. Marie. Although I am never in support of criminal activity, the destruction of property, trespassing, mischief, break and enter or damaging property or real estate in any way, I am in support of youth mobilizing for their own positive change.

If this movement turns into the catalyst that unites youth and those who care about our youth, for good, the creation of spaces, activities, groups, organizations, places or ideas, that involve and empower youth to take the future of youth into their own hands, then, I am all for it. Depending on the route that these activists decide to take, from here forward, I may join the bandwagon.

It really all depends, though, on their continued message. If it is, ‘We support youth who do criminal behaviour because these individuals are artists and it is their message and creativity that we should be focusing on’, then, they have lost me.

If the message of this group is, ‘We are using this complicated situation to mobilize youth for the purpose of affecting positive change in our community, for ourselves and the future of youth’ then, I am all for it. I guess we will see what transpires next.

‘The aim of an argument or discussion should not be victory, but progress.’ ~ Joseph Joubert

Previous related graffiti article: https://saultonline.com/2015/05/what-does-this-mean