Shepard Fairey Arrested At LAX For Vandalism Charges In Detroit
Street artist Shepard Fairey was arrested after flying into LAX earlier this week for an outstanding warrant for vandalism charges in Detroit.Fairey, best known for his Obama campaign "HOPE" posters and his OBEY brand, was flying back into the country after touring Europe when he was taken into custody. "Our warrant was evidently discovered as he went through customs, and he was placed under arrest, Douglas Baker, chief of criminal enforcement for the Detroit Law Department, told The Detroit News.
In May, Fairey was in Detroit to erect a 180-foot mural downtown, along with a few other pieces, but he was charged by Wayne County prosecutors for putting up murals on 14 other buildings, including two owned by the city. Eight of the buildings owners who did not give Fairey permission wanted to press charges.
The artist spent the night in a Los Angeles jail, but was released the next day when prosecutors declined to extradite him. Per county policy, his case was considered too low-level to move forward with extradition. Baker says prosecutors are discussing with Fairey's lawyers on having the artist face the music in Detroit at some point.
Detroit has begun a tough crackdown on graffiti and vandalism, already sending 13 people to
jail this year for tagging. Fairey is the most high-profile of their cases, and he could face up to five years in prison is convicted. "Our recommendations are tailored to the offender and other circumstances, but we are not hesitating to recommend jail time," said Sergeant Rebecca McKay of the Detroit Police Department.
In an email to The Detroit News, Victoria Yarnish, supervising director for Obey Giant Art, says Fairey "is not available and has no comment at this time."
This is the eighteenth arrest for the street artist, who seems to like flaunting his rap sheet as a badge of honor. Last month, he told The Independent that the charges he faces in Detroit were "hilarious" and compared it to the time he was arrested in Boston and faced around 30 felony counts. He wound up serving two years probation.