A Queens City Council member is attempting today to revive an anti-graffiti law that has been mired in a free speech lawsuit supported by the pro-graffiti clothing designer Marc Ecko.
Council Member Peter Vallone Jr., a hero among anti-graffiti activists, has rewritten a bill banning anyone under the age of 21 from carrying such "graffiti materials" as spray paint, in an effort to satisfy a federal judge who prevented an earlier ban from being enforced.
The new version of the bill would allow people under 21 to possess spray paint and large permanent markers if the materials are carried in a sealed container or a bag closed with a key or a combination lock.
"It's not ideal and it's not what I envisioned originally," Mr. Vallone said. But even with the compromise, he noted, "It's the toughest in the country."
Under current law, minors can be prosecuted for having graffiti tools if it is proved that they intend to use them for vandalism. Mr. Vallone's original bill increased the age to 21 and banned outright the possession of graffiti tools in that age group.
That bill, which was signed into law in 2005, was contested by a group of young graffiti artists supported by Mr. Ecko, who has become Mr. Vallone's nemesis in his ongoing war on graffiti.
The artists said the ban unfairly targeted their age group and infringed on their free speech. They won a temporary victory when a judge in U.S. District Court issued an injunction last year.
Mr. Vallone said he was hopeful that the new version would overcome any legal obstacles, although he predicted yesterday that Mr. Ecko would fight back.
"The only reason they challenged it was for publicity and street credibility," he said. "We can expect them to do it again."
Mr. Ecko and a lawyer for the defendants could not be reached for comment yesterday.
Correction from July 2, 2007:
Plaintiffs is the status of graffiti artists in a lawsuit against the city. Their status was misstated in an article on page 4 of the June 25 Sun.