It was a Friday night around 12am. I was nine years old. I was waiting till my parents fell asleep. Every Friday night I used to always sneak out at night with my friends and go “hitting up” aka tagging (doing graffiti). We used to always have a lot of spray paint, caps, markers, and a lot more graffiti supplies.
I still remember when we used to go to the train tracks and cross out the toys. Toys were the weak tags done by taggers that didn't have any skills. They looked like scribbles. For my friends and me, it was cool doing graffiti, because we all had skills. This was when we all created our own tagging cliques so we could get known in the streets. My clique name was wgb, which stands for “we got bars.” Bars means tagging skills. Everyone that was a tagger and was in a graffiti crew had funk with other graffiti crews that didn’t get along.
Crews used to always cross each other out so they could earn more respect and get more known in the streets. Well that night, my parents finally fell asleep, and I climbed out my window. I was scared of getting caught by my parents, but I had done this before and always gotten away with it. My two best friends were waiting for me outside my house. We went to the train tracks and started hitting up, and then we saw another different crew hitting up. We had never encountered anyone else there before, and when we saw them and they saw us we knew there was going to be a battle.
A battle is when two different tagging crews see each other and they do graffiti at the same time and whoever is weak, the other crew crosses their graffiti out. My friends and me had been practicing. We had crisp outlines and good shading, and we won the battle. The other crew gave us all of their Montana spray paint. We felt victorious, like when I won my first soccer game.
Then we left to a different spot so we could go hit up more. We were walking through East Oakland, and a lot of police were passing, but they didn’t stop us because we didn’t look that hot. Hot means when you are bringing a lot of attention to yourself. If you didn’t want to get caught doing graffiti, you had to be cool and walk normally. If you were a tagger you would have to be smart and think before you did something.
Finally, my friends and I arrived to the place we wanted to tag at: the freeway. The freeway was a mission for all of us because we could have gotten run over by a car or something, but if you were a real graffiti writer you wouldn’t be scared of doing it, and you would hit up where other taggers wouldn’t dare. My friends did it, but I stayed off to the side. I didn’t want to get run over. We were so juiced that we had accomplished our mission. We were barely leaving the freeway when we got stopped by the police. They put us all in cuffs, which hurt my wrists. The cops told us, “You all are going to jail.” We had to sit in the back of the cop car while they looked up our records. I was a little bit mad, but mostly scared about going to jail.
Finally, the police came to talk to us. They said that since none of us had a police record, they would give us a chance and let us go. They took us all home and our parents grounded us and I thought that was going to be all of my consequences. Then they called me and told me I had to do 49 hours of community service. That turned out to be cool, because I got to volunteer at the library, and just use the computer all the time.
Even though my consequences weren’t too bad, I realized that doing graffiti could put me in jail. That’s how I stopped doing graffiti.
7 years ago