Taggers seen in action at graffiti-covered L.A. skyscraper. Across street in 2 days: The Grammys
Taggers continue to vandalize graffiti-covered L.A. skyscraper. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Taggers clambered over broken fencing and into a downtown Los Angeles skyscraper Thursday afternoon, brazenly adding their own handiwork to the graffiti already covering at least 27 floors of the partially completed structure that sits directly across from Crypto.com Arena at L.A. Live — the site of Sunday’s Grammy Awards.
The massive Oceanwide Plaza site is a $1-billion mixed-use project on Figueroa Street that has been stalled since 2019. As a Times photographer stood nearby, a group of about five young people with backpacks jumped the fence surrounding the structure.
“There’s no security. It’s dangerous,” said one tagger, who declined to give his name. The individual was there to film his own work on the building using a drone. He said he considered the graffiti to be art, but he worried the younger kids he’d seen accessing the site would get hurt.
“Part of me likes this,” he said, “and the other part of me doesn’t.”
Street photographer Daron Burgundy told KTLA-TV that taggers had been busy spray-painting the structure for the last three nights.
“Last night there was a crew on one of the floors,” Burgundy said, “and people were coming out and getting detained by LAPD and getting cited and released. People were still in there tagging while the cops were down here.”
Footage of the building shows words and phrases in different colors of paint, including “set the pace,” “amen” and “SINKOE.”
The Los Angeles Police Department confirmed that officers met with property management officials to determine how to better secure the property. No arrests have been made in connection with the vandalism.
“The [security] measures will be implemented immediately, and the graffiti will be removed,” LAPD wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter.
Construction on Oceanwide Plaza, at the time one of the biggest real estate development projects in downtown Los Angeles, was halted five years ago when its Beijing-based developer ran out of money. The empty complex, which includes three towers, was to feature retail and hotel space as well as luxury apartments and condominiums.
Instead, the buildings have sat unfinished and have become an eyesore in the popular L.A. Live complex, which includes numerous restaurants and shops as well as the Grammy Museum. Crypto.com Arena, which anchors the complex, will host the 66th Grammy Awards on Sunday.
Not all see the graffiti as simply blight on the urban landscape, however.
“As much as people are entitled to not like what the graffiti writers do, I would encourage people to respect the effort to use the space that nobody else seems to be caring about right now,” said Stefano Bloch, an L.A. native and a professor at the University of Arizona who teaches courses on criminology from a cultural, geographic perspective.
Bloch, a former graffiti writer himself, pointed to the L.A. River and the Belmont Tunnel in Hollywood as other examples of taggers using abandoned or derelict spaces to make the city feel more “human” again.
“This was a giant building that a community of people is finding use in,” he said. “It’s people making use of the things that others neglect or leave behind.”
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