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Graffiti-tagged L.A. high-rise a 'blight' and 'worldwide issue,' police chief says

Tags on the stalled Oceanwide Plaza in the heart of downtown have attracted attention in the U.S. and elsewhere, outgoing Chief Michel Moore said.
graffiti tags vandalism
Graffiti on an unfinished high-rise development in Los Angeles on Friday.Damian Dovarganes / AP

LOS ANGELES — Dozens of people showed up at a graffiti-marred downtown Los Angeles high-rise Tuesday in an attempt to further vandalize a property that the police chief warns is becoming a “center of mischief and turmoil," as well as a “worldwide issue.”

At least six arrests for vandalism have been made since the graffiti tags on the long-stalled Oceanwide Plaza project, near the arena that hosted the Grammy Awards on Sunday, attracted national and international attention last week.

Police Chief Michel Moore on Wednesday called the buildings and their condition “a visual blight.”

“It has become a worldwide issue, where we now have people traveling here in an effort make their mark,” Moore, who is retiring at the end of the month, said at a news conference naming an interim chief.

The project stalled in 2019 over funding problems. Last week, after video was shared showing graffiti tags on the windows of many floors of the high-rise, police vowed to crack down.

Police responded at around 1 p.m. Tuesday to search the vacant building and fortify a perimeter fence, Moore said, spending the entire day on the issue, only to have more people show up that night.

“We had dozens of individuals arrive last night and attempt to scale, and some did, the fence,” Moore said.

“So we’re going to stay there. This is much like the 6th Street Bridge, as an iconic location, a jewel ... that became a center of mischief and turmoil,” he said.

The $588 million 6th Street Viaduct, which opened in July 2022, was immediately targeted for street racing, burnouts and graffiti.

Four people ages 29 to 44 were arrested Tuesday, police said. They were booked on charges of trespassing, and all but one is a resident of the city. Two other people, ages 25 and 35, were arrested Jan. 30, police said.

"As a resident of Los Angeles, it’s my hope that we’re going to transition that facility from its current state to one that is safe, to one that is secure," Moore said.

Moore said that where the stalled project is located is "an iconic location that unfortunately has been taken off track and now been taken advantage by these vandals."

The project, announced as two 40-story towers of luxury condominium units and a 49-story tower, is near Arena, where the Lakers play, and by the LA Live entertainment district.