Signs of resistance: marking public space through a renewed cultural activism
For several years prior to the catastrophic events surrounding Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans was the site of an ongoing tension between artist-activists, progressives, and revolutionaries and what some might call an anti-graffiti vigilante. Fred Radtke, president and founder of Operation Clean Sweep, Inc., a nonprofit anti-graffiti organization, vowed that his group would remove graffiti within 7 days after it was reported to a 24-hour a day hotline. Radtke reported that graffiti had dropped 65% in New Orleans, and more specifically, 85% in the French Quarter (“Pride Reflected,” 2002). Earlier cleanup campaigns in the city involved New Orleans public housing residents and were funded by the city and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.