If you can't beat 'em, sue 'em. That's what San Francisco is doing in an effort to stop one of the most prolific taggers in the city.
In a lawsuit filed last week against a woman known as Cozy Terry, the city of San Francisco alleges 58 cases of vandalism against the woman, including 28 on Muni buses. The city is seeking $88,000 in damage to public property from her tagging. "We are trying to send a message," City Attorney Dennis Herrera told SFGate, "that this will be taken seriously and it is going to cost [taggers]."
According to Bay City News, Terry also goes by Coze, Coz, Coze One and several other variations of her name. Like many prolific taggers, she signs her work with her aliases and even shows them off on social media. Terry took down her Instagram, Tumblr, and Flickr accounts after being served the lawsuit, but city attorneys already had screenshots. City workers who clean the graffiti even took pictures before painting it over, allowing for the city to catalog the vandals' work.
Officials pursued civil damages instead of criminal charges because only a preponderance of evidence is needed instead of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. City laws also make it easier for officials to sue in such cases. Besides, Terry has been arrested and cited before. "I would just say so far she has not been deterred by criminal prosecution," said Deputy City Attorney Victoria Weatherford.
"Graffiti is not a victimless crime," said Board of Supervisors President London Breed in a statement on Friday. "It damages Muni buses and public parks, hurts small businesses, blights our homes, and costs the City over 20 million dollars every year."
The lawsuit also seeks to prohibit her from possessing anything that can be used for vandalism and also limit her ability to take public transportation.
You can read the lawsuit in its entirety over at SocketSite.