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Throwback Article : Cool Earl Beware: N.y. Sues Graffiti Scrawlers 3 Named In Suit For Defacing Property

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POSTED: May 06, 1989

NEW YORK — Three alleged graffiti gremlins can now see their names in a new location - on two landmark lawsuits that seek thousands in damages from them.

One suit was filed against two brothers blamed for defacing the Brooklyn Bridge and seeks damages not only from them but from their mother, claiming she is financially liable in part for any mess they caused as minors.

The other suit was filed against JA, 19, son of "Lean on Me" movie director .

"To my knowledge, nobody's done this before," said assistant city corporation counsel Alan Kleinman, whose office joined the Transit Authority in the legal action. "We are taking a different route."

DSmith, 18, and RSmith, 22, allegedly painted SANE SMITH in huge letters high above the East River on the Brooklyn Bridge's Manhattan tower last September.


The display, visible at least a mile away, infuriated the city's Department of Transportation.

The lawsuit against the Smiths demands compensation for sandblasting the graffiti away and removing their handiwork from the subway and signs along the Henry Hudson Parkway.

The suit against JA said he defaced West Side Highway and Henry Hudson Parkway signs last summer, making them "illegible and thus hazardous to safe driving," and also vandalized subway cars. He used the tags "JA" and "KARINA," officials said.

At a minimum, the suits demand more than $5,000 in damages, plus punitive damages and legal costs. The cleanup costs alone are believed to be much more than $5,000.

One of the Smith brothers - he refused to give his first name - said: ''It's harassment. That's all I can say."

While not admitting guilt, he added: "For the past 20 years (graffiti) has been inflicted on the city and they just want to pick on some small kids who can't defend themselves.

"They say, 'Smith did that damage, and Smith did this damage.' It's a conclusive fact that more than one person will write a tag, so they have no case."