Several floors of skyscrapers in Los Angeles are covered in graffiti

More than a dozen people broke into the Oceanwide Plaza skyscraper in Los Angeles, covering the windows of the shiny, unfinished building with colorful spray-painted letters that read “Crave,” “Dank” and “Amen,” among other phrases, police said Thursday.

Spray painters scaled multiple floors of the 40-story buildings, which were once set as the city’s tallest residential towers, according to Forbes. It was not immediately clear how long the people were in the buildings or how they got in, but police were called to the graffiti on Tuesday.

The buildings, which have been vacant since 2019, are located across the street from the Arena at LA Live, where the Grammy Awards will be held on Sunday.

The Oceanwide Plaza project was supposed to be a mixed-use space with retail, a hotel and luxury apartments, but the project was halted in 2019 after the developer, Oceanwide Holdings, ran out of money, Los Angeles Times registered.

The graffiti only accentuated the unfinished buildings, which critics say are an eyesore and a source of frustration for many residents.

Kevin de León, a member of the Los Angeles City Council, called on building owners to do something about vacant properties.

“The City of LA has already served property owners to meet the deadline instructing them to meet their obligations,” said Mr. de León during press conference on Friday morning. He was not available for comment on Saturday.

Stefano Bloch, a cultural geographer, professor at the University of Arizona and former graffiti artist, said the graffiti helped draw attention to the unfinished project, noting that the trespassers still broke the law.

“These are people who are taking it upon themselves to use a space that in many ways has been abandoned by people with money and power,” said Mr. Bloch, who is a native of Los Angeles.

The police said that more than ten people participated in the graffiti incident. All but two fled before the police arrived the police saidadding that the two men were charged with trespassing and later released.

Those responsible for the graffiti may not face the same severe legal consequences as in the past, Mr. Bloch said. Decades ago, graffiti artists faced jail time, but now they are more likely to be fined for vandalism and disruption, he said.

“In the 1990s there was a moral panic about graffiti being associated with gangs, but times have changed,” Mr Bloch said. “Even if people don’t like it – and they have a right not to like it – they understand that graffiti is not associated with violence.”

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