WATCH: Some people are saying that when Luis Vega took justice into his own hands, he may have made himself a target. Peter Kim reports.
TORONTO – For the second time in less than a week a Kensington Market business owner has been victimized by graffiti.
Luis Vega, owner of El Arepazo, discovered the unsightly tag Monday morning.
“I didn’t choose for them to come here and damage the place, and it’s our responsibility to clean it up. It’s frustrating,” said Vega.
Last Thursday the door of the building out of which Vega runs his food kiosk was also marred by graffiti. After checking his security camera footage he took note of the man seen defacing the building and confronted him later that night when he returned to the property.
WATCH: (March 6) Kensington store owner beats graffiti artist. Peter Kim reports.
Video of the violent exchange was posted online and went viral. Some have suggested it may have made Vega a target for other taggers, but that has not been confirmed by police who caution against taking the law into your own hands.
“We advise against it because you never know what that person may have on them, and that could cause the situation to escalate into something more heightened,” said Constable Jenifferjit Sidhu, of the Toronto Police.
The problem has persisted for years and is pervasive. The city received at least 382 complaints about graffiti in 2014. The downtown core and west end were particularly hard hit.
Vega says he welcomes graffiti murals that adorn the alleyways of Kensington Market. Aesthetically these are in stark contrast with the tags scrawled on businesses and structures in the area.
“Tagging is a form of marking territory and marking human existence – I am here. It is also a form of writing or calligraphy to some, while vandalism and mischief to others,” said Tracey Bowen, a professor at the University of Toronto who has studied the social dimensions of graffiti.
It’s a problem fatiguing many business owners in Toronto who say they’re penalized by the city for vandalism they’re not responsible for.
“I talk with city hall and [they do] nothing. Only penalty for me if I no painting,” said Hector Lopez, owner of Perola’s Supermarket, who said he’s been cited fines of around $450.
The city of Toronto did not respond to requests for an interview regarding their graffiti policy.