Howsabout A Little Follow-Up Regarding Those 4th Street Swastikas…

So back on October 8th I wrote about my surprise in finding a second seemingly long-standing swastika scratched into the concrete roadbed on 4th Street in Hancock Park and dutifully harumphed both at the symbols of hate and myself for my failure to act in getting the first one removed when discovered a couple blocks further west more than a year ago. In closing that post I vowed to report it to the appropriate civic agency in hopes they could be erased.

First up I contacted the Bureau of Street Services (BOSS) and filed an online service request, which included an offer to meet personnel at the scene to point out the swastikas’ locations, as they are easily missed. Five days later when my request had not surprisingly been summarily ignored, I followed-up only to be politely told by a BOSS representative that regardless of the reprehensible symbols being in the actual street, such requests were not under their jurisdiction and that as a courtesy they had forwarded it on to the Department of Public Works’ Office of Community Beautification (OCB). How nice of them.

Not willing to believe that, On October 13 I went to the OCB website and filled out a removal request form, again detailing the nature and location of the two swastikas, and offering to meet workers on-site to show them where they were.

Yesterday, I got the following automated e-mail from OCB:

On behalf of the City of Los Angeles and Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and your city council, thank you for contacting 3-1-1 to report graffiti in your neighborhood.

According to the contractor servicing the area, the graffiti (346217) you have reported on Oct 13, 2009 at W 4TH ST & S JUNE ST was removed on .

Please let us know if there was any problem with the service or if the graffiti reoccurs at this or any other location.

Graffiti abatement requests may also be submitted to OCB at the following website:

If you would like to provide any feedback on this request, you may e-mail [email protected]

Office of Community Beautification
Department of Public Works
200 N. Spring Street, Suite 356
Los Angeles, CA 90012
Phone:  213/978-0228

Despite the email only addressing one of the two swastikas and also failing to list the date the alleged contractor allegedly removed it, I have to say I was half-way impressed… right up until this morning when I biked by and found the hateful thing entirely untouched:


Naturally I’ve both emailed the OCB and left a voicemail message enthusiastically looking for an explanation as to why on behalf of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and my city council they would declare a job done that it hadn’t even started. I expect they’ll be in no rush to reply so in the interim I’m going to find out if the Hancock Park Homeowners Association and Councilman Tom LaBonge are interested in ignoring me, too.

Updates of either progress or continuing bureaucratic stagnation to come, as they develop.

22 thoughts on “Howsabout A Little Follow-Up Regarding Those 4th Street Swastikas…”

  1. I’m more offended by city’s incompetent system than the swastikas. The swastikas were probably etched or posted by idiotic kids not intending to actually harm anyone, just trying to do something naughty. The city, though, is trying to pull the wool over everyone’s eyes with a clearly broken system they just hope will shut everyone up so they’ll continue to get paid.

  2. David, in the hypothetical context of the swastikas being scrawled there by some punks who didn’t know better I can see why the system sucks to you more than the symbols. For me, irregardless of how they got there, I can excuse the city’s service failure far sooner than I can the continued existence of signs that have come to represent such despicable evil. If I have to grind them out with my Dremel tool and a chisel, I will.

  3. I’m surprised that, in all this time, no concerned citizen has come along and either etched a few extra lines to render the swastikas unrecognizable, or covered them with paint or concrete or something. In a manner totally safe to pedestrians, of course. Not that I’m suggesting anything or anything.

  4. Matt Mason: You are a genius. If the city ends up failing and it comes down to me and a power tool, your suggestion would be much easier than erasing the whole dang miserable thing.

    The Yenta: I haven’t yet thought of enlisting the ADL’s assistance. Let’s see what happens when LaBonge’s office and the local homeowners’ group chimes in.

  5. Will, keep up the good fight. May have to go the DIY route. I have a chisel and a sledge hammer that I would gladly bring down for some swazi smashing if the city continues to fail.

  6. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. As soon as I read this item today, I directed the Board of Public Works to remove the offensive symbol immediately, as in today. Please contact me directly with any other sightings of this horribly offensive symbol.
    Thank you.
    Tom LaBonge
    Councilmember, 4th District

  7. Great to hear from you Councilman LaBonge and I appreciate your quick action. I must reiterate there are TWO swastikas carved into the concrete roadbed — one on 4th Street a hundred feet or so east of June Street, and another a couple blocks west nearest the northeast corner of the intersection of 4th and Las Palmas, both of which are easily missed.

    I remain more than willing to make myself available to Public Works personnel on site to point them both out.

  8. I report graffiti in my neighborhood regularly using the city’s very convenient online form (, and, while I’m frequently impressed with the speed and efficiency with which they respond, there are times that I receive these confirmations that the reported graffiti has been removed when nothing has actually been done. I think it’s likely the fault of lazy or dishonest contractors rather than intentional obfuscation on the part of the OCB.

  9. Spencer, I agree that its unintentional stupidity rather than intentional deception. The explanation I have since received from the OCB director was that the contractor arrived without the ideal equipment to remove the symbol and incorrectly closed the removal order (which generated the email) rather than refer it back to HQ for follow-up and reassignment.

    I find it rather disheartening that the contractor rolled to the job without the proper tools, given that I explained in my removal request that the swastikas are scratched in the concrete roadbed.

  10. Just to be clear, the graffiti removal contractors do not possess the machinery required to grind out concrete. It was not a case that they came out improperly prepared. The fault of the contractor was that they closed the request, rather than cancel and refer it back to OCB. Sorry for any confusion. Councilman LaBonge has followed up with Public Works on this item and Bureau of Street Services should be sending out crews today to grind out or patch the concrete.

    Paul Racs, Director
    Office of Community Beautification

  11. Will, please send your phone number to my email address. I’ve been on the phone with the street services folks. They are on 4th Street looking for the location. Thank you.

  12. I just received word that a Bureau of Street Services crew covered both offensive symbols.
    Again, thanks for letting us know it was there.
    Tom LaBonge

  13. I have to disagree a bit with Paul’s explanation. If a graffiti removal contractor was dispatched to remove something that, according to Will’s request, is not graffiti but rather a permanent etching or carving on concrete, then either the graffiti contractors were indeed unprepared, or whoever sent them sent the wrong contractor. There isn’t another alternative. Prematurely closing the request was a secondary problem that occurred after the first, more fundamental, error.

    In any event, it sounds like a fix is at hand, and that’s great news.

    by Eric Davidson 1993/104

    As the world spins around the sun
    … and darkness settles upon the land,
    a lone werewolf is on maneuvers
    … with a spray can in his hand.

    In his wake a trail of paintings,
    … length increasing with mobility.
    Unless it’s practice, he’s always sure
    … of their broadest visibility.

    Most of his targets are preselected,
    …on impulse he strikes others.
    This guy is real quick of course
    … his footgear’s soled with rubber.

    One thing never varies
    … in his steady paced routine,
    it’s the symbol found at sunrise
    … to the Jews it’s quite obscene.

    It’s the swastika he loves to paint
    … forget the krinklejammers*
    He’s very cautious on his missions
    … he can’t paint ’em from the slammer.

    What drives a man to paint such things
    … did he start when he as young?
    Sometimes included are racial slogans
    … which are easily read and sung.

    “Enjoy the Struggle” is our hero’s motto
    … he lives by it night and day.
    He’s motivated by love for his race
    … not by hatred or lust for pay.

    Occasionally a Semitic shopkeeper
    … will paint a swastika on his door,
    then break his cheapest window crying
    … “They’ve vandalized my store!”

    The rabbi in the synagogue
    … has been known to do it too.
    The kosher media portrays him as
    … “The poor tormented Jew.”

    Our graffiti artist laughs the hardest
    … when he sees this on the news.
    Crooked arms being rendered backwards
    … in tropically exotic hues.

    The Swastikaman, he moves around
    … he’s held many part time jobs.
    Diggin’ ditches, washin’ dishes,
    … cuttin’ lumber out of logs

    You can’t predict where he’ll strike next
    … he always works alone.
    As long as he’s equipped with paint
    … he delays in going home.

    Could there be dozens like him
    … out painting on their own?
    I’ve seen the markings everywhere
    … whilst the artist remains unknown.

    Somewhere out there he’s workin’ late
    … in the pitch-black of the night.
    Armed with paint and determination
    … he’ll be gone before it’s light.

    * “Krinklejammer” is old school lingo used to describe a swastika substitute being used by National Socialists.

  15. Big ups to Councilman LaBonge and his staff not only for being proactive in getting this done quickly, but also returning here for follow-up. Thanks!

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