The American Graffiti artist Shepard Fairey, who was charged in Detroit with causing criminal damage after allegedly vandalising several buildings during his residency in the city, has been arrested in Los Angeles. The artist was returning from a ‘Spraycation’ installing his largest exhibition to date at CAC Málaga in Spain. Agents at the Los Angeles Airport intercepted the street artist as he returned home from a European trip, according to Douglas Baker, Detroit Law Department’s chief of criminal enforcement. “Our warrant was evidently discovered as he went through customs, and he was placed under arrest,” Baker released in a statement.
Just because he is a well-known artist does not take away the fact that he is also a vandal Detroit police sergeant Rebecca McKay. He was commissioned to paint a huge, 18-storey mural in Detroit last month but police say he used his down time to plaster buildings with posters.The warrant accuses him of two counts of malicious destruction of property. Each is punishable by a prison sentence and a $10,000 (£6,347) fine. “When you’re in Detroit, we welcome your work, Shepard Fairey, your commissioned work, not your Wild West work,” Detroit police sergeant Rebecca McKay said. “Just because he is a well-known artist does not take away the fact that he is also a vandal,” she added. However, Fairey laughed off the charges, calling them “hilarious”. The artist, who has been arrested 17 times in his 20-year career, told the Independent he did not know what the warrant would amount to. “Sometimes it’s a day or two in jail. Normally the charges get downgraded. Most of the arrests aren’t for serious stuff,” he said.
Fairey, 45, who is best known for his Obama “Hope” posters, has now been charged with two counts of malicious destruction of property. The artist was visiting Detroit to create a 184-ft by 60-ft mural in a public park. Speaking to the press, he mentioned that he was also going to create guerrilla works around the city. Over this period, a number of his trademark “Obey” logos and murals’ appeared in the downtown area.
Fortunately, Because of LA county’s legal policy, they won’t extradite the artist on ‘lower-level cases’ like this. The artist has now been released. If Fairey ever returns to Detroit he could face charges at a future date.