It’s almost impossible to ride through most cities without seeing graffiti sprayed on the walls and over train carriages, even in strictly policed Singapore. Street art lends such character to the fabric of a city that travellers often seek out famous artists in Paris, or take a graffiti tour in London. The act of writing on walls is often illegal, and hence, it’s most often performed quickly, concisely, and in the dead of night. So, most would forgive the missing comma, the errant apostrophe, the misspelled adjective, the absent question mark. Not Agent X and Agent Full Stop, the self-styled punctuation police of Quito, the capital of Ecuador, a historic city high up in the Andes.
It all began over two years ago, the anonymous pair told the Guardian, when one of them, a lawyer, couldn’t bear the sight of two lines about heartbreak on a wall—he counted over 10 grammatical errors. They fashioned a stencil out of a pizza box, and sprayed in commas, ellipses, even capitals. Acción Ortográfica Quito (Quito Orthographic Action) was born, and today, business is serious. They spot grammatically offending graffiti by day, huddle over the possible intent of the message, and then, dressed in hoodies and ski masks and armed with stencils and spray paint, set it straight at night. Messages of love, political outrage, poetry—nothing is spared. Their red corrective marks have spawned punctuation police in other cities in Latin America and Spain. Watch the original grammar vigilantes go undercover.