'Mr. T' graffiti prompts sandblasting of buildings

Laurence Tureaud, also known as Mr. T, is known for his part in Rocky 3 and his TV show “I Pity the Fool.” On the TV show, Mr. T’s character was portrayed as a motivational counselor who advocated change and team spirit. His slogan “I pity the fool” was his way of saying he feels sorry for someone.

Mr. T’s face has been seen in multiple places across campus this month. A graffiti stamp of Mr. T’s face with his tagline “PITY” has been located in numerous places and various signs around Whitworth.

According to a written report by the Whitworth security department, the incidents happened sometime during the night of Friday, Feb. 17. A Whitworth staff member emailed security to report vandalism of McEachran, Seely G. Mudd Chapel, Harriet Cheney Cowles Memorial Library, Weyerhaeuser Hall, the Hixson Union Building, the campanile and Dixon Hall by an unknown suspect or suspects.

According to the report, the tagging was done with black and green paint with a stencil of Mr. T and “pity.”

Mark McFall, supervisor of security services, said that method of graffiti is quick and easy for perpetrators to promptly vandalize late at night when witnesses are scarce.

McFall said the Mr. T tag is a signature of an individual graffiti “artist,” as opposed to a gang marking.

Hans Bynagle, director of Harriet Cheney Cowles Library, said the graffiti around campus was definitely a “creative form of vandalism.”

He said he didn’t notice the Mr. T stamp on the face of the library until it was being sandblasted off. Bynagle said graffiti only comes onto campus every once in a long while and Whitworth doesn’t have a history of this issue being a large concern.

Bynagle said while he believes graffiti can be a creative form of expression, it needs to be done off-campus. He said the prospective students who visit Whitworth might see the graffiti and won’t understand the significance of the signage.

“Maybe we need a graffiti wall, a designated place for this art,” Bynagle said. “But it so quickly gets out of hand.”

He said one of the reasons Whitworth is strict about where and how posters can be hung is because in the past some of the glue used on the brick walls has been damaging.

He said they also create a cluster of images that can get lost within each other and become counterproductive.

Senior Andrea Idso said that type of art can be expressive if it is done as a mural or in a place where artists have permission from the building owner. However, in this case, Idso considers Mr. T to be a defacement of property.

“The message isn’t harmful, but the fact that they had to sandblast the graffiti off the buildings is very disrespectful,” Idso said. “If it takes a significant amount of resources to remove the graffiti then I’d say it’s just disrespectful.”

While Idso thought that type of destruction of property was definitely vandalism, she also said she thought it was a little funny. She said she has never heard of gangs forming in the Whitworth community, but she said if there are gangs, then they need a better gang symbol than Mr. T’s face.

McFall said that as always, students are encouraged to immediately report any suspicious activity so it can be investigated promptly.

Jennifer Ingram Staff Writer

Contact Jennifer Ingram at jingram13@my.whitworth.edu.

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