2Esae of the ACC crew is going to jail today. We should all think long and hard about what it means to our rights as Americans and free citizens of the world when graffiti writers- who fundamentally express themselves in public spaces, regardless if the onlookers see their work as art or not- are seen and charged as felons. Do we really want peoples’ who only crime is writing on walls, to spend time in our over-crowded prisons wasting their lives so that politicians can make their point? Once an individual is convicted as a felon they lose their right to vote and many other rights fundamental to full citizenship and participation in democracy. When society makes artists criminals, then the police state has gone too far and all of our rights are at risk. Please take a moment to reflect on solidarity with 2Esae.
This post from the Graffiti Research Lab (GRL), (the people dedicated to outfitting graffiti artists with open source technologies for urban communication) eloquently states his case:
On October 24th Mike Baca is going to jail. He may not be free again for seven years. All for writing his name, 2ESAE. Mike is being made an example by the city of New York. The latest of many in the cities 35 year war against graffiti. But Mike is not just another example in our community. He is one of the best graffiti writers in New York City. An artist and fashion designer, his talents are sought after by cutting-edge music video directors and legendary hip-hop artists. At just 23 years old, Mike’s work has been featured in numerous publications, websites and movies, like the New York Times, Bomb it, and Esquire. His work in the street speaks for itself.
For too long graffiti has existed in two opposed worlds at the same time. Street-culture brands have made a fortune off graffiti, Swoon is in the MoMA and Banksy is the biggest artist in the world, no matter how many diamonds Damien Hirst puts in his skull. More importantly millions of people love and are inspired by the work of artists like Mike and his crew ACC. Millions of others simply tolerate or ignore it. Yet some politicians and judges still treat these artist like violent criminals and sentence them to disproportionately harsh jail terms. In NYC, they selectively target lower-income writers who cant afford lawyers in order to meet graffiti quotas and substantiate their political careers. Graffiti is a crime. But in most cases it can be cleaned up with a bucket of paint. The costly and ineffective punishment does not fit the crime.
Mike is going to jail for 3-months for a graffiti conviction in Brooklyn. While in prison he will have to mount a case against a 43 count indictment where he may be sentenced to up to 7 years in prison with only the counsel of a court-appointed legal aid lawyer.
Below is a link to photos and a video of some of the amazing work done at 2Esae’s benefit in NYC hosted by the GRL on Oct. 22.
Power to the people! Support your brothers in markers, spray cans, and lasers who claim their right to public space! This GRL video says it all: