Detroit declares war on murals, goes after popular Grand River Creative Corridor

Grand River Creative Corridor_0706

Update: Mayor Duggan apologizes, lifts fines

The Grand River Creative Corridor has transformed drab, abandoned buildings into colorful works of art on Detroit’s west side, drawing international acclaim and becoming a model for combatting blight.

So it came as a big surprise Monday when building owners on Grand River were hit with numerous fines because of murals painted by some of the world’s most talented artists. All of the murals were painted with permission from the building owners, who must now remove the paint or face property seizure.

Before & after

Derek Weaver, who started the Grand River Creative Corridor in July 2012, received about $8,000 in fines and has been ordered to remove “graffiti” from his buildings. He and several others were detained for about an hour last week by four cops who temporarily seized cameras from a PBS film crew that was documenting an artist painting a mural.

“We were treated like criminals,” Weaver said. “They threatened to arrest us.”

More than 100 local, national and international artists are involved with the GRCC, and hundreds of volunteers have helped clean up trash and vandalism along Grand River, making it a popular destination. In 2012, Gov. Rick Snyder honored the GRCC with a “Keep Michigan Beautiful” award.

“The Grand River Creative Corridor is a creative solution to blight control,” Weaver said. “What we’re doing is not graffiti.”

Before & after
Before & after

The fines come less than a month after Mayor Mike Duggan gained control of the police department from Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr. As Wayne County prosecutor, Duggan “waged a highly publicized and controversial anti-graffiti crusade that included jailing two out-of-town artists for 60 days and threatening to throw a notorious tagger known as Turtle – and what Duggan called his ‘organization’ – into Jackson Prison,” Deadline Detroit wrote in July 2013.

Despite the potential ramifications for building owners, neither the Detroit police nor Duggan’s administration would comment on the mural crackdown. Hundreds of buildings are adorned with murals, including some owned by billionaire Dan Gilbert.

“The city is stepping up enforcement in several areas, including graffiti,” mayoral spokesman John Roach told me, dodging specific questions about the crackdown.

Among the unanswered questions is why police are bothering with murals painted with permission when an increasing number of graffiti vandals are targeting occupied and historic buildings, freeway signs, schools, churches, cars, houses, light poles, mailboxes and playground equipment.

Related: Meet some of Detroit’s most destructive graffiti vandals

“What an extraordinary waste of city and police resources,” said Eric Williams, who lives near the Grand River Creative Corridor. “Those murals changed the look and feel of the area.

“I’m beyond disappointed. This is infuriating.”

Here is a sampling of murals that the city wants removed. Photos by Steve Neavling.

Grand River Creative Corridor_0724

Grand River Creative Corridor_0702

Grand River Creative Corridor_7926

Grand River Creative Corridor_0830

Grand River Creative Corridor_7932

Grand River Creative Corridor


Graffiti Grand River

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.

  • Michael Owen

    Detroit seemed to just miss the main street art trend/wave but is definitely leading the way on the inevitable backlash. When I’m able to stay objective it’s interesting to watch.

  • Thee1tooth

    Javier, go home. You are drunk.

  • Rose Napolitano

    Wow, this breaks my heart. I’ve moved away from Michigan however every time I come home I make it a point to visit detriot and all of its beautiful art. Not to mention brag and show off to the others the pictures I take. Of all the things detriot has to worry about… art should be the least of their worries -Rose

  • Ponyhome

    Given that this is artwork done with the permission of the property owners, forcing them to remove it would appear to be a pretty clear First Amendment violation.
    Perhaps the artists should form a corporation, so that their First Amendment rights would be worthy of protection.

  • user xyyyz

    I travel to Detroit twice annually from Toronto to check out the Grand River Corridor and the latest walls from the artists. There are huge talents who are known worldwide that have visited and left memorable works.

    Now a PBS crew that was documenting the art in the Grand River Corridor has had their cameras seized by police and they were detained by the police for several hours?? I don’t think I need to become a “manufactured” criminal for photography in a public place nor do I feel like being interrogated for 10 minutes let alone an hour by Detroit police for the act of documenting street art in Detroit.

    The City of Detroit better figure this one out fast. I’m not taking an art vacation with the prospect of police intervention. I suggest the Detroit Police double their efforts to identify those responsible for the two fires at the Heidelberg Project. That would be notable. Meantime my semi annual travel plans for Detroit are on hold

  • Elizabeth Beyer

    These people are horses asses. Really? Unsightly Graffitti is spray paint on the over passes. THIS IS ART!

  • Allen Brambleshire


    Detroiters do not let this happen! These people are nothing but thieves and extortionists with some bizarre hatred of anything not “officially approved” or to the clean delicate tastes of people with political sway.

    It’s their homes and businesses.

    Power bent busy body “officials” have no right to extort thousands of dollars and seize their property over art that wasn’t done the “approved” way OR dictate what people paint on their own walls.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      I do not know of one artist that has spray painted the exterior of their home. Surely you can list dozens, it must be very common and i just must never have noticed it.

      Since these artists are so talented, and loved, surely their friends and family have them paint murals on their homes also.

      How is it i have NEVER seen this ?

      • Allen Brambleshire

        So every large work of art you ever liked or personally produced would look great across the front of your house right?

  • cm

    Duggan? WTF? I will certainly let him know how I feel about this. Please do the same and contact his office. This is B.S.

  • triumph_2012

    It’s an uphill battle when you bring in a group of predominantly white people who paint murals that basically show white people and then expect folks other than primarily white people to care if they are painted over. Look at the murals. They don’t reflect Detroit at all. Duggan is right to make these slumlords clean those buildings or lose them. Not talking about the collective, itself, but those bldgs. that were painted on. People in the neighborhood want viable businesses…not a bunch of buildings with paintings on them.

    • Evan Scholar

      Get real. Those murals are art, pure and simple, and transcend the ridiculous argument of race you put forth.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Maybe they reflect the person who did it. The city did not do the art, I assume most murals were each done by one artist/ man (mostly), and mostly young guys.

      Look, there are no old people either! How come you did not object to that, just race. I see old ass black people all over. How come no murals of old ass black ladies at bus stops? No white haired old brothas playing dominoes and checkers on the front porch ?

      Might you be a black dude who hates white people ? No need to answer, I already figured it out.

      I am with you about the business’s though. People want jobs, they want food, they want services regardless or race, sex, income. Murals you cannot feed your kids with murals, you cannot pay rent or taxes because with 3/4 mile of your house there is 100 great murals. They do not matter.

    • Thee1tooth


  • ander

    Redic… I have used Detroit as a model for doing murals in flint and the Detroit art community has been some of our biggest supporters.. We need to stand up for the Detroit artists.. They are the true believers in renewing Detroit.. We have lots of buildings up here guys!! Let’s paint.. Don’t let then shut it down..

    • javierjuanmanuel

      then start a business and employ a dozen people. Art on a wall does not change anything. Even the paint is likely stolen, it does not even contribute to local stores revenue, and it is a drain on any business trying to make money by selling anything paint related in the hood.

      If you want to change the area, employ people, live there, buy a house, maintain it, demand change in the schools, live in the same house for 30 years, raise kids there etc. Spend tons of money, break zero laws.

      • Thee1tooth

        Wow Javier, your assumptions are getting crazier and crazier. What are you going to say next? The artists are hired by the illuminati?

  • eric

    The murals are illegal. Why does this come as a surprise to anybody?
    If you don’t like the laws, change them. You are not above the law.

    • Thee1tooth

      The murals ARE legal you dope. They are commisioned works and have the building owners written permission. Get with it.

      • Evan Scholar


      • javierjuanmanuel

        that is not the definition of legal. Can you link to the commercial property codes in the ordinance book for detroit and show this ?

        These murals might be legal, you said murals. Murals are not universally legal and that is part of the issue.

        I do not want the car was, the beauty salon, or the corner deli to have some jackass paint his black panther heros on the wall of the nicely painted car wash.

  • John

    People should contact their City Council representative, especially whoever represents the district these murals are located in. They are the legislative body and they need to clarify the law. It is that simple.

  • Beth Hougas Patton

    I called the mayor’s office about it. They sent me to an automatic recording that responds to the article. It began by saying that this article is “full of misinformation.” It said that as long as the owner gave permission for the mural no one would be fined and no art required to be removed. However, this did not address the notion of delinquent, absent landowners who are just letting their stuff fall apart. Why should they care if the crappy graffiti that inevitably covers those buildings is covered with a lovely mural?

    • javierjuanmanuel

      because its lawlessness. Why would you care if i rob your neighbor, its not you I am robbing?

      Whats your she-hardon for graffiti ?

      Maybe ya think it might reduce the value of the property further, and even other properties in the area. It makes it look like a lawless shit hole area and no one wants to stop and get a bite to eat there, get gas there etc.

      How about if he sells the place, he is going to have to paint over the murals, instead of just having a plain cinderblock or brick wall he has to spend a few grand?

      Just since i know you do not know, you can really harm brick by powerwashing it with pressure and not chemically removing the paint. Brick is very soft. It takes the hard outer layer off the brick, then the bricks swell with water, then in the winter they freeze and crumble. Now the joint needs 50k in brick work, so its worthless. Same with sandblasting.

      Good job, you just killed that building. But you have a mural in the background of your avatar so you know eeeeeeeeverything.

  • nick

    Not that I agree with the police wanting the murals removed, but people need to realize that gangs usually add concealed messages in their graffiti which usually fuels more gang violence. These murals dont appear to be created by gangs, but its nearly impossible for police to look at every piece of graffiti in the city and try to distinguish a possible message, and it would be a much bigger waste of time if they did. Therefore they just ban all graffiti.

    • DetroitMichael

      Man, this mural on the Madison Theater is like the beckon of all beckons to gangs everywhere. I hope the police go after it.

      • DetroitMichael

        oh, and don’t forget the whales on the Broderick under the current advertisement. or the one on Shed 2 in Eastern Market. Crap, the Dequindre cut. It’s everywhere…

        • nick

          Like I said, I dont agree with removing the murals. Just stating their reasoning behind wanting it gone.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            They cannot be reasoned with, it must be their artistic brains are wired in such a way, they cannot be logical. All emotion.

            Its why they can emote laws that do not exist, and in this one instance advocate for property rights, and business owner rights, and business freedom of speech, even though they are 99 percent, liberal democrat, big government, anti business, anti business free speech, want more regs, more taxes, etc etc etc.

            Yeah but in this one instance lets emote and advocate for business rights.

            Transparent liars !

        • javierjuanmanuel

          those are not gang related. I never heard of the east side whale boys, or the fruit basket posse.

          Why do you not put real thought into an answer not just advocate for what you personally like, and then go na na na na, I can’t hear you, I like murals, I do them, that makes them awesome, that makes me awesome !

  • chatombreux

    If the Governor said it isn’t graffiti and recognized it and praised it just two years ago, the the Governor needs to step in and tell this dictatorial hotshot to back the eff off. Murals look far better than deteriorating walls!!

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Thats not how it works either. Cities can tell you that you can spend 5 million bucks on a business, and you are not even allowed a small open neon sign to let people know you are open. You are not allowed to paint your store what ever color you want, or use what ever font you want, or use whatever sign sign you want. Some places limit awnings and more.

      You need to educated yourself on how many business’s in many cities have draconian laws for multi million dollar contributing established, famous, land mark business.

      Never mind an old ass run down nail salon that has been closed for ten years.

  • chatombreux

    If the Governor said it isn’t graffiti and recognized it and praised it just two years ago, the the Governor needs to step in and tell this dictatorial hotshot to back the eff off. Murals look far better than deteriorating walls!!

  • Kim

    So unfortunate and stupid.
    Hmmm…what is the average response time for a 9-1-1 call in Detroit and how many people have died while waiting or stood and watched helplessly as their homes burn to the ground???
    Attention City Hall: Focus your precious resources on what really matters, protecting citizens and saving lives. Fining muralists that improve the looks of an area (with permission no less) should NOT be a priority, in fact it shouldn’t even hit your radar screen.
    These are the same murals who draw people IN to the city – shouldn’t that be the end game?

    • javierjuanmanuel

      this is static though, you should be able to say no more murals and people listen, then it saves time and money, and they can focus on like you suggest fires, murder, car jackings etc.

      You do not get to say, hey there was 50 car jackings last week leave me alone. If anything the fact you or your kind cannot stop painting buildings is CONTRIBUTING to the lack of cops and firemen. Your a grown up, stop painting. They asked nice. Stop it!

      You making them talk to you, over such stupid shit, you have the death of little kids on your hands.

      They swear to uphold all laws. If you make them chase a bunch of hipsters with art degrees and trust funds around thats on your hands. You are wasting their time and the cities money. YOU ARE!

      • Ponyhome

        You obviously know as little about police work as you seem to know about everything else. Police do triage ALL THE TIME, deciding what crimes to crack down on, what hot-spots they want to focus their attention on. There simply aren’t enough police to have one on every corner enforcing jay-walking laws and arresting everybody who drops a cigarette butt. Police routinely fail to enforce incredibly stupid laws, as well, such as the law in Texas that restricted people to owning no more than five sex toys.

  • Thee1tooth

    This is a major problem for both the artists and mayor Duggan. This will surely ensure he doesnt get re-elected. There is a difference in graffiti between guys drawing bad words on things and muralists who come from different states and countries to paint a legally commissioned mural on a wall. Derek is doing more for the city than mayor Duggan. The guy has gotten an award from the governor for beautifying Detroit. Murals dont cause urban blight. They uplift the spirits of the residents and bring people from all over to come and see the art. When you bring people from outside the city, they bring their money with them. Go see how murals are bringing in revenue in LA or New York. People flock from all over the world to see people like Shepard Fairey put up murals. This is ridiculous and hopefully Duggan will see he was mistaken and not go after murals.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      OK apparently you are in your own universe and its all art based. First of all any incumbent at any level is re-elected basically 85% of time even if they are a screw up, never mind if they are talented. Many can run as long as term limits allow at any level of government.

      Then there is the fact he was just ellected and the news cycle and people memories are about 2 weeks. He could kill someone drunk driving and have about a 40% chance of getting re elected.

      You are seriously deluded if you think in 3 years anyone will care about this besides 100 artists. By the way the voting rate of the 100 artists is about 6 %.

      • Ponyhome

        90% of all statistics are made-up. 100% of Javier’s statistics are extracted from his excretory orifice.

  • Eli Hoerler

    Steve – the mayor’s office is now saying that no one who gave the muralists permission to paint will be fined. If this is true, please update your post. It sounds like they’re getting swamped with phone calls over there. She answered the phone saying “please don’t tell me you’re calling about that totally inaccurate muckraker article.”

    • muckraker_steve

      Eli, thanks for the message. The mayor’s office apologized to us after finding out the secretary was saying the story was inaccurate. The story wasn’t inaccurate, but the mayor did apologize to GRCC and lift the tickets. We posted an update. Thanks again, Eli.

  • Bob Connely

    Duggan is apparently a bigger horse’s ass than was first thought. This is high on the list of reasons that Detroit will continue to settle deeper into the swamp.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      How would a lack or murals effect anything at all. You act like big nice cities sprung up around some mural in the 1700s. Its a well known fact, boston, new york, philly, all the big eastern cities, they all sprung up around murals. Its true.

      It had nothing to do with commerce or jobs. Its a mural based economy we are in. Everyone knows that!

      • Ponyhome

        How are murals worse than the large number of crumbling buildings owned by mortgage companies and absentee landlords? Apparently, in your eyes, the presence of a mural is worse than the absence of walls and a roof. There are huge swaths of Detroit that have turned into ghost towns thanks to your beloved Capitalist masters, infested with rats and afflicted with fires. How about the mayor put some thought into what to do about that disaster, instead of obsessing over what color the walls are downtown.

  • DetroitMichael

    Just to clarify for everyone who is blaming DPD or questioning whether or not DPD has anything better to do. The authorized local official who issued the Blight Violation Notices was from the Buildings, Safety Engineering and Environmental department.

    I would gladly pay a yearly fee for a mural permit and have the placard posted by the mural. It could be similar to the registered parking lots in the city. No placard, get a fine. Plan and simple. If you have a sign on your business, it needs to be registered so why should murals be any different?

    • javierjuanmanuel

      not a bad idea. In an open business it would be easy to ask the owner hey did you want that?

      The problem is how often you have to stop by and ask, and keep track of the old art etc.

      Then the real time sap starts on vacant buildings. You could spend 20 hours trying to get the owner on the phone. Then taking the mural off could cost a couple grand. In total one mural, with city wages, and labor to remove it we are looking are 4-5,000.

      Its just not important at all, and it sure as hell is not important enough to waste $5,000 bucks on.

  • Kathy Mitchell

    This is ridiculous! Providing colorful outdoors work of art for everyone to see is a crime?
    They would rather see the blight or a blank wall? How is it when Detroit gets recognition for something positive like the Grand River Creative Corridor, that someone has to do something to put a negative spin on it?

    Additionally, since when can the police or any governing body tell a business/property owners what color they can paint their building? Is this a city ordinance and if so …what exactly does it say? Are businesses going to have to have their building signs and marketing approved next?

    Let Art Live in Detroit!

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Yes while these are nice, I would rather see a blank wall most of the time.

      Most artists are eye raping me with their subpar art. If its nice you can get paid, you can get people in galleries, you do not have to force it on people.

      If you have to force people to look at it, you simply are not talented. End of story.

      By the way, famous artist David Cho said that exact thing on a podcast a couple days ago. When he was young and broke, he could not get any one to show his art, and could not get anyone to care. He literally said grafiti was his way of MAKING people look.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      Additionally, since when can the police or any governing body tell a
      business/property owners what color they can paint their building?

      Yeah right, you do not support property rights, or business. I guarantee at every opportunity you advocate for higher taxes and more regulations for business’s.

      By the way thousands of communities have laws about signs, how large, what color, what font, how close to street, lights, no lights, neon no neon, even sandwitch boards and awnings.

      From your ignorant wishful statement I can tell you never owned a business. Many places you simply cannot have certain colors even.

      A great example is the fascists in troy, they chased away IKEA which would bring in about a million people or more per year, because they did not like the yellow on ikeas sign. That is 100 percent true, no made up.

      In grosse pointe woods they tried to ban neons, and you have to paint your store with colonial williamsburg color collection from benjamin more, or sherwin williams.

      You have no idea what you are talking about.

      • Ponyhome

        The store in Troy was abandoned by Ikea as being too expensive. It is YOU who is making stuff up out of ignorance.

        “Troy Planning Commission’s November 27, 2001 minutes—
        Doug Smith, Real Estate and Development Director, stated that IKEA has indicated they are no longer interested in a Troy store.
        The regional vice-president for the multi-state area transferred to Canada and the new vice-president thought the new store was too

  • Jan Pardy

    I drove through this area last week while taking an alternate route to the hospital campus. As an out of towner (Ann Arbor) I found myself slowing down to enjoy the art. It was a far cry from the un-sanctioned graffiti I saw in other places. It is a shame that the police are cracking down on this urban art. I noticed that these areas were not re-tagged so there must be some level of respect for them by the other taggers. Detroit’s City Council should consider this as art and leave this building owners alone!

  • wisepati

    They have NO imagination do they? They work hard to save the DIA but this is also art and the energy could be channeled in a positive way. Perhaps a contest over what is the best mural. And it could be a tourist attraction with a little work. See the link for what an Ohio city did. Small minds!

  • John

    Another possibility… There are many low income residents that fear such art for its gentrifying potential. not everyone wants higher property taxes or higher rent. All it takes is a minister with a flock to get politicians to work against murals. Why? because that flock votes. Votes will always be more important than public safety, public attraction, even tax revenue. We have seen this reactionary stance from city officials for decades. Maintain the status quo because their power originates there.

    • John

      And because the older flock vote, artists need to be careful what they paint. If it’s too edgy it may bring about conflict.

    • Hypestyles

      I’d suggest several ‘religious’ or “black/brown” icons murals, or multi-ethnics-working-together murals as part of the mix– most of the “already been here” older folk would tend to see a lot of the spacey-edgy depictions as (ahem) “demonic” and all it takes is that to get folks riled up..

  • John

    I think the problem is there lacks clarity down the chain of command from the mayor to the police on the streets–and primarily resources on the street level. What is likely happening is the mayor pushed the police to chase down taggers. The police don’t have the resources for that and don’t want to do it. In retaliation they are fining every building with paint on it, regardless whether it’s a mural or a tag. This is done so there is bad press and the mayor then backtracks. Welcome to politics. Likely those murals won’t be destroyed. Expect resolution soon.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      if they do not have the resources, why seek out every building? Thats just more work.

      If you own a business, you put your name, number website, what you do on the side. Thats obvious you want it there. Its also obvious you do not want turdle scribed over your logo etc.

      What is no so obvious is a mural on a vacant building. Or a mural on a store that is being worked on.

      There is not enough time in the day to sort it out, the easy answer is NOT FRICKING MURALS on the outside.

      Paint a mural on the inside, then we know you want it there.

      The real problem is people who paint murals on buildings they do not own, thereby making it unclear whether it was commissioned art, or vandalism.

      • John

        Can you not see the photos? it’s art. There is a difference between these murals and tags that say ‘dizzy whore’ or “rok”. The article mentions the building owners give them permission. It is unlikely the city would want to put an end to anything creative since it’s a selling point for the young and affluent to move into the city. The commercial-free art in Detroit, along with urban gardens (due to so much open space), are two unique things Detroit has to offer as a selling point. The city would be crazy to stop either.

        • John

          If the mayor doesn’t solve the problem, the city council will. This may even be a ploy to get clarification from city council through an ordinance update, much like it happened with urban gardens.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          yes I did not say these guys were not talented. In fact I have already said these particular guys are talented.

          That does not matter.

          As I already said the real problem is you cannot make something illegal, then make it legal if its well done. There is not enough time for the cops to sort out such unimportant bullshit.

          Murals on walls do not matter. Property rights matter. Tons of small business’s have to have a service contract to keep graffiti off their building, and they should not have to do that. You should be able to own a building and have it sit vacant for years, and not have a mural put up on the wall, that you then have to power washing, prime and paint for a cost of a couple grand.

      • Thee1tooth

        Javier, Detroit, like every major city in the world, has graffiti, street art, murals. Look at any large city in the world. It exists. One could argue it is an important trademark of city aesthetics and part of urban lifestyle I know a square like you is incapable of understanding this idea called “art” but the majority of people who live in any given city love it. To them, it’s part of what makes living in the city exciting and fun. Imagine everytime you went for a walk or commuted to work you were immersed in one giant public art gallery in stead of drab grayscale/brownscale stone walls. It’s what helps make cities less generic and sterile and gives character. If you dont like/cant live with street art in large urban cities then just move out. Go move to the suburbs or some subdivision where everything is generic and looks the same. Complaining about graffiti and street art in the city is like complaining about too many trees in the country.

        • zinjanthropus

          He’s obviously a troll and refuses to accept his learning moment. However if he sees graffiti like i see his posts, then I really understand his anger!

    • shavers313

      Obviously there is miscommunication on what is tagging and what is art

  • XOS

    There is tagging, and then there is graffiti art. City needs to realize the value and difference of that. This is bringing people (i.e. revenue) into the city.

  • DefendingFreedom

    Unbelievable! The ACLU wants to look into this. If you know anyone impacted, please have them contact us:

  • AppletheJack

    I hope this sparks even more incredible murals to go up in the Detroit.

  • JF

    Let’s all say it together now: “Don’t the cops have better things to do with their time?” The answer, apparent to every person who is not employed by DPD (and probably some who are), is YES.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      well basically you are saying unless they solve every of the 400 something murders, then they should not enforce anything else right?

      Do you know how stupid that sounds. You are like a little kid.

      All that matters is if this is legal yes or no. Can the city make it illegal yes or no. Is it special, ie do other cities do this and no one objects.

      I am not sure they have even a sign ordinace, but they can easily make one, grand father in old neon signs and liquor stores that paint the street side of the store and make everyone else submit designs to a review board, and even make them only use certain colors from a certain pallet from a certain store that they think fits the asethic they are looking to achieve.

      • JF

        A) not a little kid. B) no thats not even a little bit what I am saying. C) your argument is the equivalent of supporting DPD breaking up rogue lemonade stands because they violate health codes and operate without a business license. D) get. over. yourself.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          hate to break it to you, in many cities they do break up lemonade stands.

          Just because its kids playing, if they are making money its a business. People love kids, some little kids can make 500-600 bucks per day on a busy street. Thats illegal, no taxes, no license, no inspection. It is a violation of real business owners rights to be treated differently.

          No of course kids can give away lemonade and no one can do anything about that.

          • JF

            Extremely selective enforcement of law being employed by the Police. Shal we count the thousands of things they willfully ignore on a daily basis and yet they have organized specific action against building owners who have agreed to have their buildings painted with murals?

            I don’t even agree with the interpretation of the law, much less its enforcement in this case. When are they going to go after all the land barons downtown who have destroyed historically designated property?

            Instead they are choosing an extreme interpretation of blight in a corridor that has won awards for its artistic efforts. People are attracted to this city from around the world because of it’s arts scene. It’s up to police and local government to interpret law appropriately, and for Detroit Police, to choose their battles since they are so drastically understaffed. I guess you’re one of those really awesome people that wants the Heidelberg project torn down as well.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            As a teen i thought heidelberg was cool, I have grown tired of Tyree, I think he is torching the places, and he is trespassing. If you want more then unemployed artists to be attracted to detroit because they can do whatever they want for a week, we might enforce laws about blight, yes even in bad areas.

            No dude working two jobs to have a crap house wants to look at that across the street. It is art in a way, on things he does not own, or maintain well. Art that he does while trespassing.

            In short he should buy up a block and maintain it and do art on the inside of the homes, or sell his art, or buy a warehouse and do art in there.

            He is not owed as many houses as we wants to staple soggy stuffed animals, and nail blown out tires on.

            I can paint a polka dot as well as him by the way.

          • JF

            Extremely selective enforcement of law being employed by the Police. Shal we count the thousands of things they willfully ignore on a daily basis and yet they have organized specific action against building owners who have agreed to have their buildings painted with murals?

            I don’t even agree with the interpretation of the law, much less its enforcement in this case. When are they going to go after all the land barons downtown who have destroyed historically designated property?

            Instead they are choosing an extreme interpretation of blight in a corridor that has won awards for its artistic efforts. People are attracted to this city from around the world because of it’s arts scene. It’s up to police and local government to interpret law appropriately, and for Detroit Police, to choose their battles since they are so drastically understaffed. I guess you’re one of those really awesome people that wants the Heidelberg project torn down as well.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          you set the parameters. If something worse is being done, they have to focus on that, and leave you alone. You are free to do whatever you want so long as there are murders unsolved.

          Don’t like that, fine add rape, muggings, car jackings.

          That should keep them busy for about 20 years just trying to solve rapes from last year.

          Congrats, you can do what ever you want!

          Bad news, others can do what ever they want to you! This is why you are a shortsighed moron making excuses and have no substance behind what you are saying.

          • JF

            Sorry, but I never set such extreme black and white perimiters. You did, then proceeded to explain to my why I was wrong about the thing you had just defined. Neat approach.

            I have never suggested they should do nothing but solve violent crimes and sit on their hands in the face of any other crimes.

            There is a gray area. Try to exercise judment. It’s not all extremes and black and white.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            yes you did. ”

            Let’s all say it together now: “Don’t the cops have better things to do
            with their time?” The answer, apparent to every person who is not
            employed by DPD (and probably some who are), is YES.”

            Your point was this is non violent, and despite being against a law, you do not want the people who are charged with enforcing the law, to actually enforce it since there are dozens and dozens of things that are worse going on.

            This is not really bad, but throwing a single cigarette out a window is not so bad either, but you can still get a $600 littering fine.

            You do not get to say, there are dog fighters, chop shops, pick pockets, car jackers, leave me alone, its only one cigarette. That was exactly your point.

            You like the art, you know there is bad stuff going on, you do not want laws enforced on things you like.

            This is very mild stuff, and almost everything is worse than murals. Its almost binary.

            Murder on one end, murals on the other end.

  • Đon Đavenport

    These murals are adored by thousands, all the ugly vacant buildings that just sit there that are, well, UGLY, not so much. The artists that create these masterpieces at least mask the blight, they’re not vandals, not just spray can nazis, they’re amazingly talented! As a photographer, I love heading down there to capture it whenever I can.
    The Detroit Police don’t have ANY more important things on there ‘to do’ list than f*ck with this, really?? How about get off your asses and respond to a 911 call when there is an ACTUAL need for your assistance, eh?? The GRCC is just fine, we’re all good here, go on about your business, DPD, get some drug peddlers off the streets, pull over reckless/speeding drivers (you never do that btw), try being real cops and don’t worry about the ‘evil artists’!

    • javierjuanmanuel

      vacant does not matter if someone owns it and in many cases (maybe other than this does not want it). Then their is the matter of opinion, I like all these, these guys are talented, I see lots of crap murals though.

      You seem to think that just because something is vacant and some guy stole a couple hundred bucks worth of paint, then who cares, the wall needs to be painted.

      • Ponyhome

        Did you read the article? These murals were done with the permission of the property owners. End of story.

        • Thee1tooth

          Sorry, Javier is here to show how eristic he can be and argues baout semantics and philosophizes what is truly legal and illegal. He has trouble understanding that if a person who owns a building gives permission for an artist to paint a mural on their building then it is perfectly legal and within the confines of the law. He’s here just to stir up the pot and pursue his dream of having a city where everything is generic and the only thing that can be painted on a building is advertisements for a business. Sorry Javier, if you dont like the urban charm of not just Detroit but every major city in the world then maybe you hsould mve out of the city.

    • Fidelis ad urnam

      You guys all say the same thing. That they are “covering up the blight”. Well sorry, but you can’t mask blight with more blight. And news flash, if there’s an ugly building, then clean it up and give it a nice fresh paint job. Using the old “it was an ugly building” cliche is just a lame excuse. A quick new paint job would suffice to make it look better so these graffiti murals are not necessary. They just make the area look like a ghetto. If these people want to consider it art, then fine. But not everybody does and shouldn’t be forced to look at it every day. Put it in art galleries, museums, in your house. But it doesn’t belong on the sides of buildings forcing it down everyone’s throats.

  • Guest

    Seriously DPD, go arrest some crack dealers or something.

    • Allen Brambleshire

      How about, “go arrest some actual criminals.”

  • Najeema Iman, I AM Curly Locks

    That is just stupid… Art is one of the transforming parts of the city…

    • javierjuanmanuel

      no its not. There are hundreds of stores with murals on them for decades and the city declined drastically.

      Did you mean to simply say, I like it, do not change things I like.

      Because if anything evidence shows lots of murals make the city worse. Now I do not really believe that, but evidence shows that, it does not support what you suggest at all.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      please show where lots of murals went up, crime went down, car theft went down, literacy rates went up, drop out rate went down, consumer spending went up, wages went up etc.

      You cannot! It has never happened !

      • Najeema Iman, I AM Curly Locks

        Spending on art is up, trust me as an artist who wished they were still there….wealthy people are investing to make College of Creative Studies and programs like the detroit design festival in order to ensure that this will continue. The cultural art scene with its cuisine, visual artistry, fashion, est are bringing money to the city. Look at the Peacock room, 7 green salads, Flo Boutique, artist village, Heidelberg project,s weet potato sensations and other small business who open and pay taxes in the city. You don’t see what you don’t want to see. It is not art alone that is transforming the city, but it has a whole heck of alot to do with it. Where good art is people will come.

        • zinjanthropus

          Don’t engage the troll. He refuses to embrace his learning moment because he thinks he already knows. He won’t STFU because he thinks he knows. He is an outsider, perhaps not physically but mentally/ spiritually.

      • Michael Owen

        Brooklyn, NYC and Wynwood, Miami are the brightest examples of this happening. There are entire cities adopting models of mural programs just for those reasons you mentioned. Philly has done it. My hometown of Baltimore is also doing it. I could keep going. I teach entire classes on cities that are using art to drop crime, car theft, raise literacy..what else did you mention?…anyway….

  • If you are here from Twitter, CALL THE MAYOR: 313.224.3400

  • OneCanOnlyHope

    For those of you who think this garbage looks fine; you are wrong…. It makes the city looked trashed an image you might want to get away from. This isn’t going to attract the kinds of business and people you want to move into the area. Why is it that people in Detroit accept just anything that comes along…. Wake Up People….

    • Molly McMahon

      Well, this is my neighborhood and I can say that I’d probably rather have this art up on buildings than whatever “businesses and people” you’d want to bring in for me and the rest of my awesome neighbors. The GRCC is adjacent to the Woodbridge neighborhood, one of the oldest and most stable neighborhoods in the city. Thanks for your concern though! It’s always really great to have people who don’t seem to know very much about the area to tell us what’s best for “us.”

      • OneCanOnlyHope

        I don’t need to live there; I’m giving you a perspective from the outside; the trash painted all over the buildings is ugly. I’m not suggesting that your neighborhood isn’t stable or not filled with good people. Perhaps you need to reread my post….

        • Molly McMahon

          “It makes the city looked trashed an image you might want to get away from. This isn’t going to attract the kinds of business and people you want to move into the area.”

          That’s what you said. You may not be “suggesting” that there’s instability or that we’re bad people, but you are implying that until we conform to your ideals of what we should want, we’re going to look trashy. You don’t get to tell me and my neighbors what we should want. That’s my point.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            its city code, not woodbridge hipster code. You do not get to decide ANYTHING!

          • Molly McMahon

            Lol, troll. Who said anything about “deciding?”

          • javierjuanmanuel

            you did. You suggested your community gets to decide what it likes, and what it likes gets to stay.

            ” You don’t get to tell me and my neighbors what we should want. That’s my point.”

            The whole city decides what it wants to embrace and keep. Not woodbridge. You decide nothing. Your opinion does not matter if even one single person cancels out your vote.

          • Alejandra Bricolas

            You are rude. Calm yoself.

          • OneCanOnlyHope

            Judging by some of the other comments on here it sounds like your ‘hood’ isn’t so attractive after all; I would say my point has been made…..

          • Molly McMahon

            It’s a shame you have to rely on other people’s comments to learn about my ‘hood because you don’t have any first hand experience. Yet, you think you know what’s best, which people should move in and which businesses should set up shop. THAT is my point. You’ve never set foot in the area but you already have an opinion on what should be there and what shouldn’t. Why is that? Have an honest look in the mirror and ask yourself what assumptions you might be making. Also, the only person agreeing with you on this thread is clearly a troll… So there’s that.

          • OneCanOnlyHope

            Judging by some of the other comments on here it sounds like your ‘hood’ isn’t so attractive after all; I would say my point has been made…..

      • robin hensel

        This art is amazing and SHAME ON ALL THOSE TRYING TO ARREST THE ARTISTS or wipe out these great pieces of creativity. In my city Little Falls Mn a homeowner cannot paint anything on the exterior of their own building. City is deathly afraid I might paint a PEACE SIGN or something else they might not like. This is a proWAR town 4 miles from Camp Ripley. Signs and murals and art of all types are a wonderful way to PEACEFULLY convey a message. Our RIGHTS are quickly eroding. WAKE UP PEOPLE. This requires masses of people in the streets, not just a few. Our government should feat the people…not the opposite.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          pro war ? So they are allowed to paint pro war murals then right?

          No. You are such a deluded liar.

          That is big government for you, it has NOTHING to do with a military base.

          • robin hensel

            Ya right…..if my signs had message of SUPPORT THE TROOPS(CODE FOR SUPPORT OUR WARS) or PROTECT THE UNBORN nobody would have cared. The CONTENT is what mattered. What other possible reason could there be for a city owned illegally erected PRO WAR SUPPORT THE TROOPS BANNER maintained and allowed for more than a decade? 40 times past the maximum allowed time a banner if erected legally could have been allowed up. City of Little Falls turned a blind eye to following their own laws BECAUSE IT WAS PRO MILITARY MACHINE. If i wanted to erect a WORK FOR PEACE BANNER IN DOWNTOWN how likely do you think it would be allowed? This city wouldn’t even allow a WORLD PEACE flag flown at the CARNEGIE LIBRARY in honor of Andrew Carnegies legacy of PEACE EDUCATION.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        You did not disprove anything he said. How does this attract business. Stable? Woodbridge has been full of renters since the late 50s. The houses there were nice when they were built, they are tore up, tons have falling apart roofs, leaning garages, busted up cement, lawn that is all weeds, leaning fences, leaning porches, busted windows, falling of gutters and all sorts of nastiness. The insides have hundreds of code violations and have been rigged by slum lords and idiot DIY owners. Most of the houses you could spend 20-40k just fixing up stuff idiots did the wrong way.

        You have no standing. You are myopic, you think woodbridge is sooooo great, you are delusional.

        • OneCanOnlyHope

          Thanks for validating my remarks; it’s nice to see somebody else gets it…..

        • OneCanOnlyHope

          Thanks for validating my remarks; it’s nice to see somebody else gets it…..

    • choquant

      Yeah, I think I’m ok with not attracting insufferably boring people who hate art. If ~dangerous street art~ keeps away Applebee’s (and its patrons), so be it. There’s a reason I left the ‘burbs.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        wow you are cool. Hating art or hating the idea of the city having to mediate what is good art, and what has merit ?

        Maybe you are to simple to see the problem. Maybe if you got off the high horse or off your soap box you could get close enough to earth to see the problem and maybe even learn something if you shut your pie hole and stop trying to convince everyone how hard core, original, and creative you are.

        You sound like a simple turd playing a role.

        • choquant

          Sounds like I hit a nerve. The irony in you calling me “to simple” is just… well, it’s great. I’m not sure why you’re so angry about murals, but you might want to look into medication.

          Meanwhile, I think it’s quite appropriate for residents of the neighborhood and the city to discuss what we think is best for our own communities.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            I am not angry about murals, some/many murals are grafiti though. One might ask you why you are so in love with property crimes?

            Sure its appropriate as some sort of time filler, it does not matter in a city of 700,000 though, the rest of the city is not on the same page. Then it does not matter.

        • Mirriah Uunderground

          What in the world caused you to be such a miserable troll. Sorry for your life man, hope it get better.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            Do you even know what a troll is ? I am sick of looking at shit in detroit, and sick of hearing pie in the sky blowhards and dreamers proclaim utterly ignorant shit like murals fix a city, murals make a city, murals are some cash cow etc. Its borderline retarded!

            Not to mention it has less than zero meaning coming from a bunch of artists to tell me how important art is. That is them telling me how important THEY are.
            But these same people cannot make a licing doing what they say they do best. They cannot get in galleries, they cannot sell their work !

            How much patience would you have hearing a guy who makes or sells or owns a bowling alley tell everyone all the time, bowling alleys fix neighborhoods, you cannot have a nice area with out multiple bowling alleys, bowling alleys bring the community together, blah blah blah. Thats what you sound like.

      • OneCanOnlyHope

        We are so glad you did…..

  • Carl B. Oxley III

    If the police are intentionally trying to start a war with graffiti and mural artists alike, they’re doing a good job of it. But they may be underestimating what an insanely large group of unconnected and relentless animals they’re winding up.

    • CptSmashy

      It certainly appears that way. They obviously have no clue as to what they are up against. I would be willing to bet they think it is all caused by a few kids with a couple of cans of spray paint.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        the paint mafia ?

        • CptSmashy

          The street artists I know are a pretty dedicated bunch and this kind of thing will bring a lot of others to the area to support the locals.

          It just floors me that with all the other problems Detroit has, this has become their focus and they are taking it out on the existing business owners to boot.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            detroit has about 100 problems that need addressing. All of them, need to be reduced to atleast the level in other mid sized cities. It is not all or none.

            People also paint murals that no one asked for on the side of liquor stores, in the alleys, on glass windows, in awnings on roll up doors on everything.

            They eye rape you. No one will go see them at a gallery showing, so they literally eye rape you and make you look at their art by force.

          • Thee1tooth

            Actually most of the graffiti writers are showing in galleries. Your ignorance knows no bounds.

          • Stranger

            I assumed that you were intelligent and making a great argument, even though I have feelings that are opposite of yours. But, after your comment “They eye rape you.” I see that you are just ranting instead. Detroit is the worst city I have ever traveled to when it comes to blight. Any art on the surface of blight is a better sight to see. Poverty and shame is what you should feel when mass blight surrounds you. Politics steer great potential away in most cases, and in this case, Detroit should welcome the paint. Maybe that could spark the attention your city needs. Transformation through art is the leading vehicle of change in impoverished cities.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      to do what? Paint more?

      You sound like such a hard ass. But I think if someone you did not align yourself with politically, religiously, ethnically said this you would flip out.

      How about all the whites or christians flip out on dearborn cops for violence against christians at the islam fest? You would be cool with that right?

      What about ohh i dunno what about non blacks being treated poorly in detroit proper? All the non blacks should lock arms and do what ever it takes right?

      • Mirriah Uunderground

        so trolly

    • triumph_2012

      The taggers [not mural artists] are punk asses who do their dirt in the dark. No one is afraid of them.

  • Everyone call the mayor’s office to complain, right now. 313-224-3400

    • javierjuanmanuel

      about what. The city has the right especially if there is an ordinance about this.

      Many cities you cannot have neon, there is sign size limit, color pallet you have to pick from etc. I do not agree with it personally, if i spend half million bucks on a store or more, I need to get eyes looking at my store and generate foot traffic. But they either have the right, or can easily make it legal to basically make you submit even a sign that just has your name and phone number on it for review.

    • Molly Glenn

      Done that – spoke to a woman who told me that the article is inaccurate. No one who has approved a mural will be ticketed or fined. They seem to understand that there should be a difference between crackdown on graffiti and attitude toward murals – or at least they do now.

      • They’re lying. The owner of the 4731 building provided images of the tickets he was given last night. I also was looking right at the arrest from the window of my studio when I was working. I saw it happen.

        • John

          Are permits required though? I don’t know the process. Also, as Molly suggested, the mayor’s office may be backing off and trying to save face. They should reach out to Muckraker in that case and official clarify their stance.

          • I heard Channel 7 is on it, they’ll probably send PR to issue a statement tonight. I’m glad for the fast response of our community. Makes me proud to be an artist here!

      • muckraker_steve

        @mollyglenn:disqus, they definitely are lying. In fact, I just called them and they apologized. The mayor’s office screwed up. There is another story coming.

  • Emily Collins-Hamel

    Steve, there is a city sign ordinance that needs to be renewed annually for all signs displayed on a building…. Could these business owners just pay an annual “sign permit” and be left alone? The inspector supervisor to call is Terry Martin (313) 224-3114.

    • muckraker_steve

      Emily, the city is claiming that the murals are “blight.” But I do have a call out to the inspector supervisor. Thanks!

      • Emily Collins-Hamel

        The city needs to stick to rules laid out in their own zoning ordinance:

        City of Detroit’s Zoning Ordinance (,%202014.pdf)

        Sec. 61-6-17 (bottom of Page 150)

        Sign, painted wall graphic:

        A painted wall graphic is a sign, which exceeds ten (10) square feet in area, which is painted upon a wall. (See Figure 61-6-17.)

        (Ord. No. 11-05, §1, 5-28-05)


        Sec. 61-6-32 (Near the top of page 151)

        Noncommercial messages.

        Any sign, display, or device which is allowed under this Chapter may contain, in lieu of
        any other message, any otherwise lawful noncommercial message which does not direct attention to a business operated for profit, or to a commodity or service for sale, and which complies with zoning district, height, lighting, and setback requirements of this Chapter.

        (Ord. No. 11-05, §1, 5-28-05)

        • Guest
        • me34ee546

          But what is a sign?

          Sec. 61-6-2. Sign.
          Sign means any letter, figure, character, mark, plane, point, marquee sign, design, poster, pictorial, picture, stroke, stripe, line, trademark, reading matter, or illuminated service that shall be constructed, placed, attached, painted, erected, fastened, or manufactured in any manner whatsoever, so that the same shall be used for the attraction of the public to any place, subject, person, firm, corporation, public performance, article, machine, or merchandise that is displayed in any manner outdoors.

          The murals are not attracting people to the place, they are the attraction. Detroit should embrace the murals and maybe even have a guideline on what can be displayed. They could even become an attraction:

    • javierjuanmanuel

      how does the city determine good art from bad art. These are all nice, but I have seen many terrible images with terrible messages in detroit for about 20 years.

      The easiest and best is just say no art on the building.

      If you are an artist and people think you are talented go paint inside peoples homes, sell art on canvas, do web design, paint cars any number of things to satisfy your creative needs.

  • bebow

    The DPD has 4 officers to spare for harassing people over non-criminal activity, but there’s no one with clean hands available to shut down a flagrant narcotics-trafficking/prostitution operation. That’s interesting. The city is doomed.

    • javierjuanmanuel

      this is criminal you fool.

      This very article shares that link how they were going to put turtle in jackson.

      Did you mean non violent?

      Maybe you think only violent crimes are criminal, the base word is crime. All crimes are criminal.

      Stop commenting on this, you are not educated enough.

      • bebow

        “All of the murals were painted with permission from the building owners…” Oh, snap!

        • javierjuanmanuel

          No shit sherlock, these ones are. Are you suggesting that I have not seen hundreds of murals on buildings in detroit, that I know damn well no one asked to put up? On walls of buildings that barely stand? On stores that are closed, whose the owner? The stupid little 9th grader is not mailing the owner out of town to ask to do art on the wall!

          It could take hours to investigate each wall, thats the point. Cops are run ragged in detroit, they do not have the time to chase down who is the owner, did he sign off on having a mural done etc.

          Its not important if there are no murals, it effects almost no one. Yet it would save thousands of hours of labor. Then the easy safe economical thing is, no murals.

          • Ponyhome

            It doesn’t take hours to investigate a mural. The owner of the property is a matter of public record. All they have to do is visit the county website, get the owner’s name and ask them “was this done with your permission?” If the answer is “yes” then the police work is DONE. Instead they’re using that information to send the building owners FINES for not removing the murals. That’s a violation of the building owners’ First Amendment rights.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          this is also not just about THESE murals, its about murals in general. They cannot ban all murals, and then with no legislation make murals ok in one area because a couple people got together.

          If they do that, and I own a building outside of this area, my rights are being trampled if I want a mural.

          All that matters is are murals legal, cannot the city make them illegal, have they made them illegal. Thats it.

      • Gail Weaver

        Fool? Really? This is why Dugan APOLOGIZED to the building owners for being ticketed in ERROR. smh@stupidity. Reading comprehension – I think there are free classes available on line – take one.

  • Bruce Channell

    The buildings with the murals certainly look better than the ones with the tagger graffiti.There must not be any other types of crime for the DPD to prosecute so now they go after building owners for some easy publicity and fine money.But if I owned one of those buildings I would have them tied up with lawsuits,injunctions,etc. until they finally let it go.DPD isn’t trying to go after the Heidelberg Project for their “art”so why this?

    • javierjuanmanuel

      thats not how it works, this is very out there. I support a business right to put up a mural, that is different than gang tags or a guy like turdle/turtle.

      Cops swear to uphold the law, you do not get to do things in public then say, go find a murderer. You can’t litter then say, go find an arsonist. You can’t speed 40mph over the limit then say go bust some drug dealers.

      • bebow

        You sure can turn a blind eye on the dopeman if you happen to be on his payroll.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          even there is gradation there. You cannot be a corner weed dealer non violent no priors and say, leave me alone, there is a coke dealer around the way that has people killed. There is gun fights over the corner to slang crack.

          Ohh alright young man, continue selling weed, you are right, there are worse people I should go look for, even though i just saw you sell weed right in front of me like a moron.