In the words of Mike, a painter who was arrested this week in New York under the guise of an arson: “Fire was used because that’s what happened.”
At times, he said, spray paint artists would even “burn” buildings to get a clear picture of what they were up to.
“The problem is that the public didn’t know it was a threat, so no one reacted like, ‘oh, a fire,’ ” Mike said. “We are destroying real communities.”
That’s why Mike came to his conclusion and what it means for anyone who wants to stop the destruction. He also spoke about how to stop it without putting ourselves or our communities at risk.
“Don’t go to the party. Don’t go in the park. Make sure your children are away from your children,” he advised people. “Don’t drink the Kool-Aid. Don’t get high. Don’t play with matches.”
The spray paint attacks are also a tactic that, for Mike, is part of a larger national problem.
“The graffiti is a symptom of the overall destruction that is occurring,” he warned. “The city and state have not responded the way this city should respond. They are turning away from cities and from a public vision that they should embrace.”
The message has gotten through to some of Occupy Wall Street’s leadership, who are now speaking out against these attacks.
This week, for example, two people were arrested in East Harlem after their graffiti sprayed on Wall Street was found as the basis of a drug raid. A similar situation unfolded when some activists were evicted from their tent encampment to make room to build a new encampment that is on a different site.
“In that situation the police showed no mercy whatsoever,” said Ryan Kiesel, director of the Movement Policy Institute, a New York City-based think tank that is helping organize the new camp. “The reason for the eviction was the same as this, that they did not respect the rights of the citizens to protect their property and there was this attempt by the police to control the community and turn us into criminals. That’s what police have taken us for.”
But police are not the only ones to blame. Even though some artists will agree to talk to us if they have reason to, the reality for most is that they can’t. Mike said that, because no one wants to go to jail, there is a lot of pressure on them to agree to let
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