Gee & Ursula: Graffiti arrests will set standards for punishment

Dec 14, 2022, 4:37 PM
Graffiti marks a building in downtown Seattle. (Photo by Bill Kaczaraba)
(Photo by Bill Kaczaraba)

Seattle police have arrested two graffiti taggers accused of causing more than $300,000 in damage.

Prosecutors report Casey Cain, 36, and Jose Betancourth, 37, were charged with first-degree malicious mischief.

“I want to say, the City of Seattle, now it’s on you. They caused $300,000 worth of damage. What their punishment ends up being will be what we see going forward in the future,” Gee Scott said on The Gee and Ursula Show on KIRO Newsradio. “Are they just going to get a fine? Probation or a slap on the wrist? Then people will know that it’s okay to continue with the graffiti around the town. Or are you really going to hold them accountable for these actions?”

Ursula said she 100% agreed with Gee.

“The one thing I will add, though, is that there are state-sentencing guidelines. And so this again comes from the state determined by the legislature, and a first-time offender faces a range of zero to 90 days in jail,” Ursula said. “But again, you’ve got to look at this. And these two in particular, who are two of the most prolific, I’ve seen their tags, a lot of people have because essentially, as police put it, for taggers, it’s like a competition, you want to see those names in as many difficult places to reach as possible, because it’s like a badge of honor for them.

“And they say $300,000 worth of damage? It’s way more than that. That’s $300,000 worth of damage to paint over, try to remove the graffiti. But just graffiti in general makes an area or makes a city feel dirty. I mean, yes, there’s some that might qualify as art, but I would say the vast majority, it’s just garbage.”

Cain uses the name “Eager” and Betancourth calls himself “Satan.” Ursula, quoting The Seattle Times article, said that both men arrested “are members of BTM, which is an acronym for Big-time Mob. It’s a large tagging crew that spends too much time defacing property in Seattle and Portland.”

Mayor’s office says new plan to address graffiti will cost nearly $1 million

Prosecutors say the pair were arrested in paint-splattered clothing on Capitol Hill.

Gee said graffiti is a serious problem in the city. “We said we see that on the freeways, we see them, especially in the tunnel. And for some reason, y’all taggers love the bus stop. Why are y’all always tagging the bus stop?”

“You know what I love too about this story?” asked Ursula. “It was someone in that building that called 911. I love that and I know snitches … whatever. But in this case, yes, the more eyes, the better. And here’s a case where Seattle police responded.”

Listen to Gee Scott and Ursula Reutin weekday mornings from 9 a.m. – 12 p.m. on KIRO Newsradio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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Gee & Ursula: Graffiti arrests will set standards for punishment