Boston Graffiti Artist Arrested, Facing 12 Counts

Last year Ciga earned the scorn of many for tagging a vintage trolley. Now 19-year-old Marc Meadowcroft is facing jail time.

Ciga's vintage trolley vandalism.

Prolific Boston-area graffiti artist Ciga’s handiwork included this controversial piece on a vintage trolley at the Boylston Street T stop. / Photo by Steve Annear

Graffiti artist Ciga earned the scorn of many Boston residents last year when he threw up a towering set of black and white bubble letters on a vintage trolley at the Boylston Street T stop. In the months that followed, police received more reports of Ciga cropping up on private property across the city.

Wednesday, the man behind the moniker was unmasked when the Suffolk County District Attorney’s office announced the arrest of 19-year-old Marc Meadowcroft of Revere. Meadowcroft, who allegedly tagged the name “Ciga” and sometimes “Cigar,” now faces 12 counts of defacing property and potential jail time.

“Ciga is a prolific writer who has developed his style over the past year into something that’s very recognizable and all around the city,” said an administrator for the popular Instagram account @BostonGraff,who asked to remain nameless. “He’s certainly made a big mark, he has certainly made a lot enemies, and he is definitely noteworthy.”

@BostonGraff has shared nearly 1,000 pictures documenting the Boston graffiti scene in the past nine months, including several Ciga pieces. The account has morphed into a platform where graffiti writers promote themselves, connect, and come into conflict.

“There’s definitely a segment where people dispute and beef, and it gets escalated,” the administrator said. “Generally I try not to moderate, except for fake accounts… If a confrontation is heating up, I’ll tell them to take it to the streets and paint it out… People can say anything on the Internet and talk big, but it’s what you create that shows your talent and dedication to go out and do things that aren’t necessarily legal.”

In a subculture rife with competition and confrontation, Ciga has excelled this past year, earning a reputation for writing over others’ pieces, vandalizing high-profile spots, and stoking contentious beefs with rival graffiti crews that have escalated into physical altercations, according to @BostonGraff.

And he wasn’t only swinging at rival graffiti artists. A statement from the DA’s office notes that Meadowcroft has been previously charged with assault and battery on a police officer, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. He has open cases in Dorchester Municipal Court and Brighton Municipal Court. The Amtrak police, Boston University Police, and Transit Police had all encountered his handiwork. Lieutenant Richard Sullivan of the Transit Police told the Globe that Meadowcroft “is responsible for hundreds—hundreds—of vandalism cases in Boston and on the MBTA.”

While the public’s love affair for street artists like Banksy and Shepard Fairey flourishes, there’s decidedly less admiration for those like Ciga who throw up tags rather than stylized stencils.

“There’s a distinct cultural difference between street artists and graffiti artists. Street artists are trying to send messages, expounding on political and cultural themes and such. Graffiti artists are out to prove that ‘I’m the best, I’m hitting the hardest spots, I’m getting up to the spots that you’re not,’” the @BostonGraff spokesman said.

As for the hulking Ciga on the vintage train? “I have no opinion on what you should hit or not hit. In terms of graffiti, it was an impressive hit as well as ballsy move,” the @BostonGraff administrator said. “When you get on the news, you’ve definitely made a mark for yourself.”

Meadowcroft’s downfall is linked to a warrant after he missed a court date stemming from allegations of assaulting an officer, to which he has pleaded not guilty.

Judge Catherine Byrne released Meadowcroft after the arraignment and ordered him to stay away from MBTA property. He’s due back in court June 4.