GBA Graffiti Tags Spotted in South County. Police Want to Know About It.
There appears to be a new graffiti artist or crew in the area, tagging street signs and the back of buildings with a variation on GBA, GBA MOBB or 721, which an Anne Arundel County Police source said is probably the numeral-to-alphabet correlation of G=7, B=2, A=1.
It seems that GBA/Mobb/721 are traditionalists. As with graffiti painters from the 1970s, they work in aerosol spray paint on other people’s (or public) property. They also appear to be a bit like a modern mom with a penchant for proudly posting their latest on their public Facebook page.
If you see graffiti, please contact police as to the whereabouts of the graffiti and a description of the work. Then remove the graffiti.
Our source within the police department said that the name, GBA, “could be anything from Graffiti Bombin’ Assassins Make Others Bleed Badly, Greatness Beyond All, Giving Beatdowns Anonymous, Gang Bangin’ Assassins etc.”
Some sources online, including Urban Dictionary, said that GBA started as a street tagging crew out of Riverdale and/or Annapolis. One report indicated that they began as a graffiti crew but turned into a feared street gang.
The Intelligence Unit of Anne Arundel County Police Department had not heard of the group until our inquiry.
Some of the members of the crew, according to their public Facebook profile, live in West Baltimore. It is unclear what brought them to South County.
History of Graffiti
Graffiti has a fairly modern history. With the advent of cheap aerosol sprayvpaint in the 1960s, graffiti sprang up as an offshoot of hip-hop music in New York City. Moving through the 1980s, graffiti artists began to take different paths in terms of geography and style. Today, the sprayed words, phrases, art and symbols include tagging, stenciling, memorials, political messages and graffiti as art. All of these forms are usually painted on a “canvas” of public property–or private property with good visual frontage.
Tagging typically doesn’t carry a profound social message. It is just a mark of the graffitist. The tags of Cool “Disco” Dan in the 1980s around Washington, DC were the marks of graffiti artist Dan Hogg. The purpose is to put the name out there on as many public spaces as possible.
We attempted to contact GBA Mobb via Facebook about their art, but did not receive a response.
In the 1980s, graffiti artist Keith Haring became well known for his graffiti in the New York subway. His artwork centered around a political message about HIV/AIDS awareness and research funding. Haring later moved into more commercial and graphic art. He died in 1990.
In Belfast, Northern Ireland, graffiti wall murals memorialized both sides of the “Troubles.” Still today, there are Loyalist/Unionist murals, Republican/Nationalist murals and some that present a social or cultural message, particularly for peace.
Graffiti has also become a way for underground political movements to get the word out about their cause in places where there is little or no political opposition. In both Venezuela and Syria, opposition adherents have used graffiti to call for political reform.
Other guerrilla-style graffiti artists have used public space (or co-opted private property) for the more detailed stencil graffiti work of Bansky in Britain and Blek le Rat in Paris, France. These artists’ popularity overtook their notoriety and they are more mainstream artists. In fact in February of this year, a Bansky mural, “Slave Labour,” was removed from a North London building and put up for sale for $500,000 at a Miami auction. The auction was canceled when neighbors from the North London area raised a stink that the mural had been “stolen” from the public space and put up for sale.
Generally, graffiti is more prolific in times of economic or social turmoil. It is extremely rare that it is considered high art. The majority of graffiti is about being a nuisance. In the areas where graffiti proliferates, it drags down property values, tends to make commercial property un-lease-able. Many towns have graffiti brigades that work to remove graffiti from public and private spaces.
What to Do
The best thing to do if you see new graffiti in your neighborhood is to report it to police. Anne Arundel County Police want these crimes reported as “destruction to property”. Police also said that, depending on who owns the property, removing the graffiti is strongly encouraged, even from public spaces or government signage.