DNR ranger under investigation for vandalizing Detroit with graffiti

Frank Toarmina, via Instagram
Frank Toarmina, via Instagram
Via Instagram
Via Instagram

The Michigan Department of Natural Resource is investigating one of its ranger after we exposed him for defacing numerous buildings with graffiti in a series last month about the city’s most egregious vandals

The subject of the probe is Frank Toarmina, a DNR ranger at William G. Milliken State Park and Harbor in downtown Detroit.

Known as “Rok” or “Raftinonkarma,” Toarmina recently scrawled his monicker on every floor of the historic CPA Building across the street from Michigan Central Station. He’s also defaced numerous signs and other buildings.

“We are investigating the matter,” DNR spokesman Ed Golder told me today. “There is a process we have to follow when an employee is accused of wrongdoing, and that process is ongoing.”

Via Instagram

His most popular work may be his depictions of former Detroit Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick as the pope. He’s posted the stickers throughout the city and even adorned the top of the Pierson Building with a “Dope Pope” image before it was removed. 

Toarmina also runs a website, www.raftinonkarma.com, in which he sells some of his work.

Toarmina, who continues to work at his regular job, declined to comment for this story.

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Willy

    How are those ‘wanted’ posters working out for ya Frank?

  • Circa53

    So some dumb kid from Paris sprays all over the city, gets murdered and he’s called an artist. State Ranger does it and he’s called a criminal and he actually painted something relevant. The Kwame dope pope should be on T-shirts and bumper stickers..”Tell Em About Deeeeeeetroit”..

  • dp

    I’m not sure how attempting to expose artists (see Heidelberg Project piece) does anything positive for our community. It would be nice if you focused your talent on the powers that be, those whose misgivings affect the community in a negative way. A DNR employee who also tags abandonded buildings and fosters art awareness is hardly a villain.

  • sly313

    The Dope Pope was brilliant!

  • Jack Ramsey

    Hmm. Some graffiti sucks, some may qualify as ‘art’ or arty at least. For better or for worse, it is now celebrated. Detroit has acquired some cachet become of all our open concrete canvas ripe for spray paint. Apparently there’s some vendetta between graffiti dude and Muckraker dude. If it involves threats of violence, that’s quite uncool. Otherwise, whatever. But the real thing is somehow that graffiti guy works for the government as a park ranger–not the typical image of an urban rebel Basquiat type. Um….

  • Mike Arledge

    Graff writers are just easy targets. Graff is a problem in every major city. It means people are out in the streets of the city. Which is a big statement for Detroit. Buildings across the city are being burned to the ground and focusing on graffiti is absolutely the bare minimum of what you can do for the city. You lack vision Steve.

    • muckraker_steve

      Mike, you must be new to the site. We cover fires almost daily. And we cover poverty, government corruption and lack of city services. That’s almost all we do. Just because we wrote a few stories on graffiti doesn’t mean we are ignoring the rest of the city’s problems.

    • green_velvet

      Easy to spot the taggers in this story. You’re the only ones who rush to provide an over the top, blind defense. Just keep circling the wagons. Good strategy.

      Just because murders and arsons occur, that’s not an excuse to let other less serious crimes be ignored.

      If you want to cover something in paint so bad, find a senior citizen that needs a helping hand and paint their house. Do something that isn’t self-serving but instead that is positive. Cover someone’s property in paint with permission for a change.

      • Mike Arledge

        Fuck yes circle the wagons! You hide behind amonimity here in this board. My full name and face is here just for people like you, so you can see who is addressing you appropriately. Your words and actions and lack of identity make you as silly as any Graff writer. You can tell who has spent time in the city based solely on the concerns they address on the Muckraker. By lumping “less serious” crimes into the same sphere as Felonies you create the hyperbole that thrusts jay walking tickets into the spot light. In any city that has a thriving community. To spend any amount of time discussing Graff shows your lack of forward thinking. Graff is illegal but is not even worth the breath to discuss it as Real Problem for a city.

        Lastly all of you fucks no that by putting up graff artist work and even saying their name out loud does not weaken the Graff writer, it makes their resolve stronger. You want Graff to disappear never utter a Graff writers name or even put their art in a published forum. This article is a perfect example. Every time you utter their name or show their face or even acknowledge their existence you are glorifying the artist. You all should no this.

  • Sizz

    Could this guy be the Heidelberg Project arsonist? Seems to be it would be the ultimate act of performance art for a disturbed mind such as his.

  • Sizz

    Its under state investigation which means it will go absolutely nowhere. Yet another white employee of the State exploiting the city and its misery.

    • Dust Buster

      i hear you brother man. its time to tell those white people to go north of 8 mile. detroit needs more diversity as far as african americans go. one day we will see a majority black citizenry, police and city council. only then will detroit find true salvation and rise up like a phoenix from the ashes those white people created.

      • Mike Arledge

        What the fuck did I just read!?

      • Steve

        WTF! Everything you ask for is true today and the politicians and police are standing around raking the ashes.
        Stop the Racist BS, we are all in this boat together.

        • green_velvet

          You didn’t feel the rush of wind as that comment flew over your head? I thought the extra layer of sarcasm he was laying on was pretty evident.

        • Gary

          You’re a type B

      • Gary

        Sarcasm is a beautiful thing

  • Toka313

    Full disclosure – Steve thinks that this person was putting up “Wanted Posters” with a picture of Neavling accusing him of shoddy journalism. That’s the impetus for this piece. Revenge pieces are a great way to get interpreted as a “legitimate” media outlet. /s

    • Gary

      I appreciate Steve’s story almost as much as I’m going to appreciate when that jackass Frank gets fired from his job

    • bdcanuck

      You really think this article wouldn’t have been published if those posters hadn’t been put up?

      • Toka313

        In a word, yes. Considering the FB post said not to mess with people that buy ink by the barrel, I think there is pretty good reason to think so.

  • bebow

    None of the “Wanted” posters popped up in my neighborhood, and I’m pleased to be unselected for that particular honor. If guilty of the allegations, that’s one wrongheaded state employee.

  • green_velvet

    This is the best. Great job, Steve. He has had plenty of opportunity to undo, and outright stop his vandalism since you started on this story. Instead, him and his merry band of defacers have threatened you for keeping on him. I’m sure his supervisors at the DNR, and the police as well for that matter, would love to hear these additional details regarding the threats. Keep it up. Detroit needs more like you. You and Elrick together are helping keep a positive focus on the City.

    • Sizz

      Wrong. He is a white guy with a badge; he gets a pass for any wrong doing.

      • Steve

        Just like Councilman Cushingberry got prosecuted for his indiscretion?
        Stop the racist BS. Seeing everything as black vs. white is what has killed Detroit. Don’t you get it?
        We are all in this boat together.

        • Gary

          No way, don’t play that whole ‘were in this boat together BS’. Detroit sucks not because of the whites