Ever see things like this?
Works of art, like this one by Gats, get covered in silver spray paint sooner or later around these parts. Well, it turns out that many local instances of art destruction were perpetrated by one individual, a vigilante named Jim Sharp a.k.a. “The Silver Buff”, who has taken it upon himself to clean up “vandalism” by vandalizing public art that’s not legitimately recognized.
A battle between the likes of Sharp and local graffiti artists/taggers has raged on for decades, rendering Berkeley covered in silver spray paint that is arguably more offensive-looking than the original stickers and tags it was meant to destroy. Filmmakers Max Good and Nathan Wollman tracked down Sharp’s identity last year and are currently working on a documentary film about Sharp and others like him called “Vigilante Vigilante: The Battle for Expression.” While the Berkeley police don’t seem to mind graffiti very much, citizens like Sharp contend that it encourages crime. The broken windows theory (that vandalized urban environments give the appearance of lawlessness and breed more serious crimes) is compelling, but I have a hunch that crime is a symptom of greater social problems like poverty and lack of social services. Of course, it’s much easier to buff a veneer with silver paint than it is to reach deep to the root of the social problems underneath. I leave you with this to ponder: