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Two arrested in connection with tagging graffiti-covered L.A. skyscraper across the street from Grammys venue

Los Angeles, CA, Thursday, February 1, 2024 - Taggers have graffitied what appears to be more than 25 stories of a downtown Los Angeles skyscraper that's been sitting dormant for several years. Construction on Oceanwide Plaza, a $1 billion mixed-use retail and luxury apartments project with three towering unfinished structures, stalled in January 2019 after the Beijing-based developer lacked the funds to complete it. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)
Taggers continue to vandalize a downtown Los Angeles skyscraper that's been sitting dormant for several years. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times)

Two people were arrested, cited and released this week in connection with spray painting graffiti across more than two dozen stories of an unfinished skyscraper in downtown Los Angeles, according to authorities.

On Tuesday around 12:43 a.m., Los Angeles Police Department officers responded to a vandalism call on South Figueroa Street, the site of the unfinished and long-idle Oceanwide Plaza development, the department said in a news release. The LAPD's Air Support Division reported seeing more than a dozen suspects trespassing and possibly spray painting the building.

By the time more officers arrived, all the suspects except for two had fled the location, authorities said. The two — Los Angeles residents Victor Daniel Ramirez, 35, and Roberto Perez, 25 — were arrested and transported to the Central Area station, where they were cited for trespassing on private property and released.

Two days later, officers returned to the construction site around 12:52 p.m. to respond to another vandalism call, this time involving spray painting on the 30th floor, according to the news release. Officers were told by the site's security guards that the suspects fled the building in a car.

Police found a car matching the description they'd been given and told the driver to stop, but the driver didn't yield, the department alleged. Officers eventually found the vehicle a short distance away and the driver was cited for failure to yield to an officer.

The investigation is still ongoing.

Taggers spray painted at least 27 floors of the building this week, judging by aerial footage of the building.

Oceanwide Plaza was once one of the biggest real estate development projects in Los Angeles, but construction was halted five years ago when its Chinese developer ran out of money. The project was supposed to feature hotel and retail space as well as luxury condominiums and apartments.

The buildings have remained unfinished ever since in the popular LA Live complex, which includes shops, restaurants and the Grammy Museum. Crypto.com Arena anchors the complex and will host the 66th Grammy Awards on Sunday.

Nella McOsker, president and chief executive of the Central City Assn., condemned the taggers in a statement.

"We are disturbed by the images of the vandalism of Oceanwide Plaza," said McOsker, whose organization advocates for businesses and nonprofits in downtown Los Angeles. "This is a representation of the very real neglect that DTLA has gone through over the past decade. We see it every day with the number of unhoused Angelenos experiencing mental health crises in the streets, the shuttered businesses we walk past and lack of public safety that we hear of too often."

Not everyone condemned the graffiti as senseless crime, however.

Stefano Bloch, a former graffiti writer and a professor of geography at the University of Arizona, expressed admiration for the taggers making use of abandoned space.

“It’s graffiti writers who find value in these spaces and enliven them,” he said. “That’s not to romanticize it as art or to demonize the crime. Someone was making use of this building and it wasn’t the builder or the occupants.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.