Detroit police want street artist Shepard Fairey.
“When he returns to the area, he will be arrested if he doesn’t turn himself in first,” Detroit Police sergeant and head of the city’s graffiti task force Rebeca McKay told the Detroit Free Press.
Fairey had been in Detroit last month after he was commissioned to construct his largest mural to date by Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert’s Real Estate Services. The completed mural is 184-feet-by-60-feet and covers the face of One Campus Martius.
Fairey was in Detroit for a nine-day residency in collaboration with the Library Street Collective, during which he completed multiple projects and installations across the city. Among them: a black and white skull mural called “Pattern of Destruction” in an alley in the Z Parking Garage called “the Beltway,” several small panels also along the beltway, and a 14-foot water tower.
Shortly after completing his residency, police began investigating a series of black-and-white Andre the Giant panels attributed to Fairey that had appeared on nine locations, including two city buildings, in downtown Detroit.
The total damage, according to police: $US9,105.54
At the time, Fairey’s collaboration with Bedrock and other corporations in Detroit was seen as odd, a criticism which he addressed prior to his residency.
“I don’t think it’s hypocritical for me, because I’ve always espoused what I call the inside-outside strategy,” Fairey told the Detroit Free Press. “I still do stuff on the street without permission. I’ll be doing stuff on the street when I’m in Detroit. But the idea of being able to infiltrate the system on its own terms and make things better from within is something I’ve always believed in.”
As one could guess from Fairey’s history and his not-so-cryptic statement, he was planning on doing unsanctioned (some might call “illegal”) work in addition to his commissioned pieces.
It appears that Detroit officials have no leniency for Fairey. Police chief James Craig told media during a news conference during the initial investigation that police “treat everyone the same.”
Mayor Mike Duggan expressed similar sentiments.
“As I’ve said to the chief, I expect this to be investigated vigorously. I think Prosecutor (Kym) Worthy has brought seven different felony charges in the last six months against graffiti artists. … Graffiti is being dramatically reduced,” Duggan said during a press conference in early June.
Fairey may have picked the wrong city to tag. Duggan declared a war on graffiti last fall and has been quoted in the past as saying, “I hate graffiti,” according to Daily Detroit.
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