The London Olympics War on Graffiti
Appearing to be in preparation for the London 2012 Olympic games, the British Transport Police has raided a number of homes allegedly belonging to graffiti artists. One of which was Darren Cullen the owner of a popular graffiti and street art website called Graffiti Kings. Darren, who is also known by his graffiti name “Ser” has been involved in the world of graffiti and street art for almost 30 years. In the last 20 years he has gone legit, working on advertisements with major corporations, working with local councils and charities for disadvantaged kids. He was even approached to work with Team Great Britain for artwork for the olympic games.
Recently Darren was presented with a warrant by the British Transport Police for his arrest for allegedly committing criminal vandalism between the years 1997 up to the current date. A wide almost 12 year window. When pressed the police said that he was picked out for registering a domain name that others posted illegal graffiti pictures on (which is not currently a crime). Darren’s house was searched and much of his business property was seized including his laptop, phone, spray paint, photographs, and magazines. Much of which his business cannot continue on without.
Darren was taken into the police custody and joined many others (according to Darren about 30) seeming to be there for the same reason. Before being released, his bail conditions were set. These conditions stated that he is not allowed to carry any spray paint or graffiti tools and not allowed to ride any rail service or come within one mile of any olympic venue until November. This essentially is an unprecedented ban of the top graffiti and street art individuals from coming close to the olympic games with any type of graffiti making materials for any reason.
Besides huge big brother-like security measures, this crackdown on graffiti and street art is also exemplified by the systematic buffing of existing street art and graffiti around olympic areas, many of which had been there for years untouched.
All in all, the crackdown around the 2012 Olympic games shows to the informed yet again the effect of globalized corporate events on the locals in surrounding areas. It’s become quite clear that when the olympics or global meetings come into town, local city governments feel the need to sanitize any elements that they see as unfavorable. In the process, many peoples rights can be violated and justified under the guise of security.
You can read an interview with Darren Cullen on Vice and read more about the crackdown on graffiti in London on The London Vandal.