DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan said officials with his administration went too far as part of a new anti-graffiti campaign by issuing tickets to building owners who had murals they commissioned or approved on their walls.
Tickets were issued as the city rolled out a previously unpublicized, more-aggressive effort aimed at cleaning up buildings along several major roadways, according to reports. It’s part of broader work to fight blight in the city.READ MORE: 'Big Brother' Debuts Wednesday in a Special 90-Minute Live Event
Duggan on Wednesday blamed problems on a miscommunication among city inspectors and said ticketing of illegal graffiti would continue.
“I felt like I gave explicit directions that wall art and murals done with owners’ permission should not be ticketed,” Duggan said. “We made a mistake. But we also issued a large number of tickets for graffiti that was appropriate.”
Duggan personally apologized to two of those caught up in the effort, the owners of Brooklyn Street Local diner in Corktown and Derek Weaver, founder of the Grand River Creative Corridor, where artists have completed owner-approved murals.
“I told the mayor that if you aren’t careful, and if you come down with iron fists, you’ll force a lot of good artists, entrepreneurs and small business owners out of the city,” said Weaver, who received up to about $8,000 in tickets in recent days.READ MORE: "The Challenge: USA" Brings Together Former Competitors from "Survivor," "Big Brother" & More
The effort is focused on Jefferson, Woodward, Grand River, Michigan and Gratiot avenues. Deveri Gifford, co-owner of Brooklyn Street Local, said she was pleased the mayor came to the restaurant to apologize for a $130 ticket. Still, she said, it was all “ridiculous.”
“All the inspector had to do was come and talk to us,” she said.
Duggan said officials held six planning meetings before launching the crackdown. The Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental Department is responsible for issuing the tickets, and Duggan said the city is reviewing all of the tickets that were issued.
Tickets given for murals that had been approved by business owners are expected to be rescinded while other tickets may stand. Owners are responsible for their buildings in cases where they were targeted by graffiti. If ticketed, they have 14 days to clean up.
Vandals are being charged with malicious destruction of property, with varying penalties. Duggan said more than a dozen have been prosecuted. The crime can be a misdemeanor, punishable by fines or up to 93 days in jail, or a felony with up to 10 years in prison.MORE NEWS: Big Brother 24 Features Michigan Native, Taylor Hale
TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.