LOS ANGELES - Right across from Crypto.com Arena near the recently-unveiled statue of Kobe Bryant is Oceanside Plaza, a massive complex that was supposed to house luxury apartments and retail space, but ran out of money in 2019 and halted construction.
The stalled development has now become known as "Graffiti Tower" because dozens of taggers scaled the buildings near the end of January and sprayed their tags all the way up the building. That's vandalism, according to Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León, who added, "with private or public property, you can't go up there and deface it."
One of the taggers told FOX 11's Cristy Fajardo that the graffiti "is our way of expressing ourselves." But, "art therapy" aside, just this weekend a dozen more people were caught trespassing, according to LAPD, which had officers around the buildings.
FOX 11 crews saw four patrol cars, so, when seven people walked out of the fenced-off property just after midnight Sunday, along with five more around five and a half hours later, de León said, "they walked right into the arms of LAPD."
De León said some of those denied they were there to add more tags "even though their shoes… their clothes had paint on them. They had cans in their jackets. We did find a firearm as well. There was one individual that was on probation as well too."
The Plaza was a billion-dollar project that remained unfinished for about five years. To some, filling one of the parking lots near the massive complex taking pictures, it's artwork, and some say it adds to the beauty of downtown.
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One passerby said, "I feel like it's going to be a staple of downtown now."
Another said, "It's pretty cool. I like it a lot."
"This is like a who's who of Los Angeles graffiti culture. If you're not on this building, then you're a nobody," said former tagger-turned-vlogger Lamont Dorsey. Because the towers have gone viral, he came with his drone to capture some images. His feelings were mixed.
"I give them credit for having the courage to go up there, biut its' really a blight on the city," he said.
Passerby Mary Marin said, "It's history. It's beautiful. It's ugly. It's everything, but not in front of Kobe. Not in front of Kobe... we don't need this!"
That's what De León thinks. He called it, "mayhem and destruction driven by ego and narcicism."
He and the council have put the Chinese developer on notice that they have to start clearing the streets and begin removing the graffiti. They have until February 17th.
"Let me be very clear. Oceanwide is expected to act by the 17th," De León said. "If not, there will be legal and financial sanctions against Oceanwide."