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Art Or Vandalism? Gum Wall In Maplewood Stirs Debate

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MAPLEWOOD, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — It’s a colorful collage that includes shapes and names, but it’s a sticky situation.

As CBS 2’s Emily Smith reported, a so-called work of art on a wall underneath a Maplewood railroad overpass is made up entirely of different kinds of chewing gum — globs of it, from one end to the other.

“I see it as an art,” one passerby told Smith.

“It must have a purpose because the gum’s got all different colors, so like blue, red — it probably stands for something,” he continued.

“It looks OK from a distance, but then when you see it’s gum, it’s kind of weird,” one girl told Smith.

Ask any student in town, and they’ll lovingly refer to it as the “gum wall.”

It’s a tradition that goes back at least a decade.

“I always wondered about this,” said James Smith, who works in Maplewood. “It’s been here for a while. You can tell how old the gum looks.”

But is it vandalism?

Maplewood police say technically it is. Anyone caught sticking gum to the wall could be arrested and charged with intentionally damaging property.

The property belongs to NJ TRANSIT. Transit officers scraped all the gum off a couple of years ago, only to have it reappear.

A spokesperson for NJ TRANSIT told CBS 2 officers patrol 161 stations, but it will be taking a closer look at the gum wall.

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