Wednesday, April 18, 2007

A scarey situation for a graffitti artist

This came to me from another website. It is a trully frightening story.

My name is Alain Maridueña. Many of you know me by my professional
name, Alan Ket, or just Ket.As some of you may have heard, I was
recently arrested and charged with numerous criminal charges
related to graffiti. What is different about mycase is that I was
not caught in the act of writing on property that doesn't belong to
me, and I was charged with a number of felonies that could result
in my going to prison for years.

In October of 2006, police showed up at my home early in the
morning while my neighbors were leaving to go to work. I was served
with a search warrant and the police entered my home looking for
evidence of graffiti (photos, paint, computers, cd roms, markers,
etc.). The police took away most of my property including all my
art supplies, my computer, home movies, photo albums, magazines,
etc. The property voucher was eight pages long.
Those of you know who know me personally know that I am a painter,
writer, historian, collector, and publisher of art books. I have
been documenting the movement since 1985. Most of the materials
taken by the police were part of my historical archives and
materials for a book I had planned to publish this year, The
History of New York's Subway Art.
After I was arrested, my lawyers told me that I was under special
investigation and that the property taken was going to be analyzed
to determine whether or not I would be indicted. There was nothing
I could do to get the property back and I might not see it for a
few years. In other words, buy another computer, and sit tight.

Months passed, and in March of this year I was formally indicted. I
surrendered myself to the DA in Brooklyn and ended up spending a
week in jail being bounced around the Queens, Brooklyn, and
Manhattan courts as I was charged with crimes in each county. I
found out that my charges were serious felony charges that each
carry a jail sentence of up to 7 years! That’s for each count! In
total I am facing 14 criminal counts in three separate cases that
are based on photos of graffiti art in my computer.

I could never have prepared for this. My lawyers believe that this
is the first time someone has been charged in three counties at the
same time. The lawyers told me to expect bail to be a few thousand
dollars so I left that with a friend in order for him to bail me
out. To all of our surprise my bail in Manhattan alone was $50,000.
People charged with violent felony assaults, robberies, and other
crimes of violence get lower bail than I did. A week later a Queens
judge tacked on another $10,000. Thanks to my family
and friends we pooled our resources and I was bailed out.

Today, I am still in a state of shock. I wonder what will happen
next? My three court cases will be complex and costly, running me
into the hundreds of thousands of dollars. I believe that using
photos in a computer to charge me with all of these felonies is a
new tactic designed to intimidate and harass graffiti artists like
myself, to give up our mode of artistic and political expression.
This is a precedent setting case with ramifications for the entire
artistic community.

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