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‘You were a graffiti artist in the last century Sir? Well that means you are banned from public transport in 2012’

Twitter is sometimes really an excellent source of information. This lunchtime I saw a tweet with a link to an article on The London Vandal website. Not what you’d call really my natural territory. Being someone who is very boring an law abiding and who lets say didn’t exactly set the art world on fire before dropping it full-time after Year Nine. A website on graffiti was’t one that I had visited before. However…

The story linked was about how the police had gone on mass raids across the capital of known graffiti artists a couple of weeks before the Olympics. Seems a bit heavy handed on the face of it but when you delve further into the piece you will see that it isn’t about keeping these scallywags away from the games but these scallywags as it were aren’t actually scallywags at all. I just used the word scallywags three times in a sentence. I don’t think that would’ve gone down well with my print tutor at university but still…

Anyway these people who were rounded up and arrested and charged on decade old trumped up charges aren’t active in the graffiti community any more. They are regular Joe’s. It is a bit like all those men who were involved in football violence in the 80s. Most of them are now in there 40s and 50s and live regular lives. The football violence is something in their past. It is the same with these people but it seems the British Transport Police aren’t as convinced.

Slapping them with bail conditions that they can’t use any public transport or go within a mile of any Olympics venue is (to me) an extremely scary issue. It is clearly using powers they have to get what they want even if legal they are not moral. It is abusing powers to the utmost degree and trying to solve a non-existent problem. That is the sign of a police state and these actions (if we are taking the story and their sources at face value) that were taken against these bunch of people is not fair and it is not right.

I know there are bigger issues at hand and security is an important issue but this isn’t about security. This is about people abusing their powers as they are scared that there might be a bit of graffiti in London when the world is watching. Being arrested and bailed just so they can put extreme bail conditions on people is not how the law should work.

Again taking this report as gospel this is an absolute disgrace and those officers who decided that it was worthwhile are a disgrace to their profession. The thing is no doubt they think it’s a job well done. Rustling up a few low level criminals from a decade or more ago just in case they decide to do a bit of graffiti during the Olympics is appalling. Is this the country we live in these days? I’m afraid folks it is.

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