Winnipeg Police Scare Graffiti Writer
Saturday, February 14, 2009
A few days back we had posted a story about a Winnipeg Graffiti Bust that happened back in December 2008. There were 6 adults arrested after a month long police investigation.
Now the accused are facing court dates and one of them was interviewed by the Winnipeg Free Press to tell his story and how he is no longer doing graffiti anymore. He also talks about opening up a consalting business that will provide information to other businesses to help prevent graffiti.
Winnipeg Free Press article:
SINCE first clutching a spray can at age 18, he claims he’s become a pseudo-celebrity in Winnipeg, well-known in the city’s graffiti subculture as a passionate and practised “tagger.”
Now, four years later, the 22-year-old says years of leaving his mark on private and public property has left him exhausted from hassles with police and the justice system.
His troubles are far from done. He still has a jaw-dropping 120 charges of criminal mischief pending — for his alleged role in a graffiti ring that operated in the Osborne Village and Corydon Avenue area last year.
“I can’t even draw right now, I’m so turned off from it,” the baby-faced young man said in an interview Thursday following a routine court appearance. He spoke with a reporter on the condition of anonymity.
Just before Christmas, police arrested six adult suspects after conducting a months-long investigation that involved the use of undercover surveillance and search warrants.
Police believe those arrested were responsible for an estimated $70,000 in damage.
Officers seized and put on display items seized from the suspects’ homes as evidence of their involvement in the sting.
The 22-year-old suspect who talked to the Free Press said he had no idea police were watching him.
They allegedly took his diary containing sketches and writing. It’s sullied any motivation he has to take up tagging again. “They took my life right there.”
Court records show he’s been convicted on 12 similar mischief charges since 2006.
The police bust caused a panic in the city’s graffiti community, the man claims. Other taggers began ripping hard drives from their computers and erasing other telltale signs that they had gone out “bombing” (his word for tagging).
“No one did nothing for more than a month,” he said, adding it’s inevitable that taggers will be back to business in short order.
I told (the police), ‘No, you can freeze it for a little bit, but 90 per cent of them are gonna go back at it,’ ” he said.
However, the man said he’s looking at transforming his considerable know-how of how taggers operate and turn it into a legitimate living.
He and a cousin have been planning a consulting business where they advise business owners about how to keep taggers away.
A key part of the plan is to offer a guaranteed 24-hour cleanup policy to shopkeepers if they get tagged after hiring the duo and taking action on their advice.
“There’s rules in the graffiti community,” he said. “No cars, fences, no small businesses, no churches.”
He also said that he hoped getting the business up and running would persuade whichever judge winds up sentencing him if he’s convicted that he should avoid jail.
Source: Winnipeg Free Press