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Massive graffiti scrawl finally being removed from L.A. River

October 8, 2009 |  2:17 pm


Officials today began removing a massive piece of graffiti from the Los Angeles River in downtown L.A.

This concrete channel east of downtown runs through two rail yards and has become the ultimate proving ground for graffiti vandals vying for visibility and reputation. 

The centerpiece is something officials say is one of the biggest tags in the United States: Three block letters that cover a three-story-high wall and run the length of several blocks between the 4th Street and 1st Street bridges. It spells out "MTA" -- Metro Transit Assassins. 

A group of alleged taggers were arrested in January in connection with the "MTA" graffiti. They are awaiting trial and are being asked to pay restitution if they are convicted.

These huge graffiti projects take paint rollers, not spray cans. Some of the most elaborate tags take days.

Cleaning graffiti from the river is far more expensive than cleaning other areas. Officials use high-pressure water spray to remove the toxic paint. But hazardous-material crews must then dam and capture all the runoff to prevent it from getting into the riverbed.

-- Shelby Grad

Contractor workers for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers begin painting over the gigantic letters, "MTA," along the concrete bank of the Los Angeles River Thursday Oct. 8, 2009. "MTA" stands for "Metro Transit Assassins." Authorities contend the letters were painted on the riverbank by up to 40 taggers. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)

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