Detroit police issue arrest warrant for ‘Obey’ street artist Shepard Fairey

A Fairey mural mocking consumerism and power was posted on a vacant building on Gratiot. By Steve Neavling/MCM
A Fairey mural mocking consumerism and power was posted on a vacant building on Gratiot. By Steve Neavling/MCM

Detroit police have issued a warrant for the arrest of Los Angeles graffiti artist Shepard Fairey, who was recruited by billionaire Dan Gilbet to paint murals downtown.

But police allege that Fairey, who has been arrested 17 times for vandalism and malicious destruction of property, posted his work on private and public buildings without permission, which he pledged to do after arriving last month.

Trouble is, anyone can post Fairey’s stenciled images on buildings, so proving that he committed a crime would be difficult. It wasn’t immediately clear whether police had any evidence, like video surveillance, to prove Fairey personally posted the paper images.

Andre the Giant image beside a surveillance camera at the Eastern Market.  Photo by Steve Neavling/MCM.
Andre the Giant image beside a surveillance camera at the Eastern Market. Photo by Steve Neavling/MCM.

The warrant charges Fairey with a felony count of malicious destruction of property, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Police identified at least 14 signature Fairey images in Detroit, and eight “victims” have come forward, police said.

Here are 15 Fairey images that we found

Fairey became famous for his iconic, inspiring “Hope” image of Obama during the 2008 presidential campaign.

Fairey’s work has become a symbol of anti-consumerism and defiance against authority, Big Brother and mass culture.

Close-up of an Obey mural.
Close-up of an Obey mural. By Steve Neavling/MCM.

While Fairey was in Detroit last week, Gilbert gave the artist space to post his largest-ever mural – a 184-foot-tall piece with his signature, scowling image of Andre the Giant emblazoned in the center. With Gilbert’s permission, Fairey also posted the cartooned image of the former wrestler on a water tower overlooking Woodward.

Fairey’s work, which is often accompanied satirically with the word “Obey,” questions the authority of the wealthy, powerful and political.

Last year, Mayor Mike Duggan’s aggressive crackdown on graffiti caused a big embarrassment for the administration when it began fining building owners for murals painted with permission.

A Fairey mural on a vacant building on Gratiot.
A Fairey mural on a vacant building on Gratiot.

 

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.

  • Allison Woods-Perry Westerburg

    This is what the DPD is wasting time on, instead of the hundreds of drug houses in the city that operate with impunity?

  • Shatner

    you’re better off just scapping buildings to rubble, they obviously dont care about that.

  • Harry Palmer

    “a felony count of malicious destruction of property, a crime punishable by up to five years in prison and a $10,000 fine.”

    if they’re going to apply the law equally, then he should get the same sentence the 3 GP girls did who vandalized Gilbert’s property.

    Which was just community service.

    Oh, and his parents should ground him.

    • The legal system works like this: Charge -> Trial -> Conviction. Sometimes, what a person is charged with, won’t be what they’re convicted of.

      The GP girls were charged with the felony malicious destruction of property. They plead to a lesser crime and got 60-hours of community service.

      Playing it fast and loose with the facts again, Palmer.

      http://motorcitymuckraker.com/2014/08/26/no-jail-for-grosse-pointe-teens-who-defaced-downtown-detroit-buildings-with-graffiti/

      • Harry Palmer

        Thanks for stating the obvious, Judge Judy.
        And….What’s not factual about what I stated?

        • Your statement implies that the three GP girls were not charged with a felony.

          Honestly, I don’t think it’d be a big deal for the guy, unless he gets pulled over or something. The DPD is just going through the motions to appear like they’re trying to enforce the law equally.

          • Harry Palmer

            he’ll never be in court over this, most likely. The warrant was probably just issued to appease some property owners ( who probably want the cops to treat them like Gilbert gets treated)
            And as far as my “implying” by not going into specific detail re: the GPW girls, I assume everyone following these sites knows those details, don’t think it’s necessary to re hash.

          • Haha. Fair enough. I actually had to look it up. I couldn’t remember if the prosecutor lowered the charges before bringing them, or if it was a plea deal. I knew they didn’t get convicted of the felony.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            If everyone who reads these sites keeps up on these matters, why did you fail to suggest the white girls from gp, get off scott free? you know, like when the black cops rolled up on the young black males tagging, and let them off with a warning, because the cops said they did not “know how to write a ticket.”

            You are a racist self loathing white dude, drowning in a sea of white guilt. Anyone can see it. Its plain as day.

          • Harry Palmer

            So, I’m a “self loathing white racist”, who’s also full of “white guilt”?
            This is even more incoherent than the ill conceived, rambling nonsense you usually post, but at least you’re consistent…

  • bebow

    The murderous dopeman should be above Shepard Fairey on the DPD’s list of priorities.

    Still waiting…

  • Ryan Knox

    In other news, DPD issues posthumous arrest warrant for Diego River for offending wealthy capitalists.