More than a dozen people broke into the Oceanwide Plaza skyscraper development in Los Angeles, covering the windows of the glossy, unfinished buildings with spray-painted colorful block letters that read, “Crave,” “Dank” and “Amen,” among other phrases, the police said on Thursday.
The spray-painters made their way up multiple floors in the 40-story buildings, which were once set to be the tallest residential towers in the city, according to Forbes. It was not immediately clear how long the people were inside the buildings, or how they had entered, but the police were called about the graffiti on Tuesday.
The buildings, which have been unoccupied since 2019, are across from Crypto.com Arena at L.A. Live, where the Grammy Awards are set to take place on Sunday.
The Oceanwide Plaza project was intended to be a mixed-use space with retail shops, a hotel and luxury apartments, but the project was halted in 2019 after the developer, Oceanwide Holdings, ran out of money, The Los Angeles Times reported.
The graffiti has only emphasized the unfinished buildings, which critics say are an eyesore and a source of frustration for many residents.
Kevin de León, a member of the Los Angeles City Council, called on the owners of the buildings to do something about the vacant property.
“The city of L.A. has already served the property owners in order to comply with a deadline instructing them to fulfill their responsibilities,” Mr. de León said during a news conference on Friday morning. He could not be reached for comment on Saturday.
Stefano Bloch, a cultural geographer, a professor at the University of Arizona and a former graffiti artist, said the graffiti had helped draw attention to the incomplete project, while noting that the intruders did still break the law.
“This is people taking it upon themselves to use a space that in many ways was abandoned by people with money and power,” said Mr. Bloch, who is a Los Angeles native.
The police said that more than a dozen people had been involved in the graffiti incident. All but two had fled before officers arrived, the police said, adding that two men were cited for trespassing and then released.
Those responsible for the graffiti might not face the same harsh legal repercussions as in the past, Mr. Bloch said. Decades ago, graffiti artists faced prison sentences, but now they are more likely to be fined for vandalism and trespassing, he said.
“In the 1990s, there was this moral panic about graffiti being linked to gangs, but times have changed,” Mr. Bloch said. “Even if people don’t like it — and they’re entitled not to like it — they understand that graffiti is not connected to violence.”