City Attorney’s office goes after graffiti artist for alleged damage to city property

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San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed a civil suit seeking an injunction against a graffiti artist who is alleged to have cause thousands of dollars in damage to public and private property over the past three years.

The accused graffiti artist Cozy Terry was the subject of an ex parte hearing today in San Francisco Superior Court, where Judge Suzanne Bolanos issued an order to show cause, affording her an opportunity to argue why the court should deny Herrera’s injunction request, according to the city attorney’s office.

The judge also scheduled a court hearing for Terry to appear on Sept. 30, at 9:30 a.m.

Terry, who tends to use the tags Coze, Coz, Coze One and other variations on her first name, “has previously been arrested and cited by the San Francisco Police Department for graffiti, and is implicated in dozens of incidents involving her eponymous scrawl,” according to the city attorney’s office.

Evidence of the graffiti artist’s work include her Instagram account showing her writing her tag on walls, trucks, buses, and various city-owned and privately-owned structures.

Some of the photos show a woman in jeans and a black hoodie spray-painting the tags. She sometimes appears alone and sometimes with other graffiti artists.

In addition to photographs from social media, evidence of Terry’s graffiti includes police and witness declarations of the defendant engaged in graffiti vandalism. The City Attorney’s Office alleges she has caused more than $88,000 in damage to public property and possibly thousands more in damage to private property over the past three years in San Francisco.

“Graffiti vandalism aims to victimize all of us — by robbing public resources and befouling public services, by blighting our neighborhoods and betraying our laws,” Herrera said in a statement released today.

“Cozy Terry is a prolific and unrepentant graffiti vandal, who has so far been undeterred by laws or law enforcement. She publicly boasts of her efforts to deface others’ property, and she brings particular zeal to her vandalism of public transportation and her own neighborhood,” he said.

Herrera said he filed a civil lawsuit against Terry on August 14 in an effort to seek compensatory and punitive damages, and penalties “for the harms she so maliciously inflicted.”

His office seeks to prohibit Terry from possessing spraypaint and other graffiti tools and limit her contact with city-owned vehicles.

The civil action Herrera filed against Terry alleges multiple counts of illegal public nuisances under state and local law as well as two counts of trespassing causing damage to personal and real property under state law. The suit also references evidence of Terry’s alleged vandalism against BART and Caltrain.

If she is found responsible, the court could order Terry to pay penalties to the city in funds, community service, or a combination of both, in addition to injunctive and other relief, according to the city attorney’s office.

San Francisco Board of Supervisors president London Breed, who authored graffiti reform legislation last year creating a streamlined evidence collection system and enabling the City Attorney to pursue civil cases against the worst offenders, thanked Herrera for “fighting back against graffiti crimes that hurt San Franciscans.”

Breed said that graffiti is not a victimless crime.

“It damages Muni buses and public parks, hurts small businesses, blights our homes, and costs the City over 20 million dollars every year,” Breed said.

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