'Free wall' welcomes graffiti but may also be drawing vandals

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SEATTLE —

A "free wall" in Seattle's SoDo neighborhood where graffiti is welcomed is drawing taggers and artists from all over the country.  But the problem is that the graffiti doesn't stop where the wall ends, KIRO 7 Eyewitness News reported.

 

Reporter Graham Johnson said that unless you ride a train, you've probably never even seen the "legal" graffiti wall.

 

"It's kind of like a watering hole for all the animals that want to drink," said "Aybee," a free wall user. "Tag it up real quick, and it just lets it all out."

 

Produce distributor William Bloxom said he welcomes graffiti at the spot.

 

"We've chosen to make this space available to people," Bloxom said.

 

But the graffiti artists are making a mess outside of the wall.

 

"They're doing graffiti on the way here. They're doing graffiti on the way out," said Aybee.  "It's like leaving little snacks along the way so you can find your way back out."

 

Sierra Burnett said vandals often strike her nearby spa.

 

"I guess they feel they've run out of room and they want to come and get our building. They've made a mess for us," Burnett said.

 

Next door to the wall, Burlington Northern Santa Fe recently put up a fence after a spike in graffiti on railroad property, including train signals.

 

Seattle graffiti Detective Christopher Young said vandals caught elsewhere often tell officers they're heading to the SoDo wall.

 

"I do seem to get a lot of graffiti cases in SoDo, and I probably wouldn't get as much if that wasn't here," Young said.

 

Sports lettering company owner Jerry Thornton said he thinks the tags he cleans up are left by different people than those who paint the wall.

 

"These guys are more or less artists that are trying to show their work," Thornton said.

 

"It's always been a really great place for freedom of expression," said "Mare,"

 

A new message says, "if you close this wall we'll destroy the city" -- an apparent threat to spray paint elsewhere if the wall is closed.