“The criminalization of artists is part of a larger war on public space. It’s coinciding with a war on public good. And privatization is being implemented on our public schools, on our water, our healthcare.”
— Antonio Cosme, on Democracy Now!
Media Coverage of the case:
- New World Water II: Water Is The Next Frontier of Social Justice In Detroit by zeph. “Even if you believe it to be fair for those with unpaid bills to have their water turned off, the DWSD hasn’t been enforcing this policy equally, revealing a specific targeting of residents…the Detroit of today represents the unequal failure of the so-called American dream, and a closer look at the power relations in the fight over water reveals just who that dream hits hardest when it comes crashing down.”
- Detroit graffiti case draws attention to blurred line between political speech and crime on Michigan Radio’s Stateside. “You cannot seriously argue that putting some paint affects the safety or efficacy of the water tower, plus the water tower wasn’t even being used, it wasn’t a functioning part (of the water infrastructure).” – Stateside host Cynthia Canty, questioning the felony trespassing & felony destruction of infrastructure statutes being used by the prosecution.
- As the city zeroes in on graffiti, two Detroit artists face possible prison time by Aaron Robertson. “Why is a city fresh out of bankruptcy paying its lawyers to prosecute two young artists who, according to their attorney, have no previous criminal records, who are accused of felonies and not misdemeanors, and possibly send them to prison for years?”
- Two Detroit Artists Face Up to Four Years in Prison for Political Graffiti by Matthew Irwin. “Because Cosme and Lucka’s arrest coincided with the formation of the (Detroit graffiti) task force, Cosme sees the charges as a publicity stunt to show off the special unit and promote the city’s agenda…”
- Detroit Artists Face Felony Charges for Protest Graffiti by Joy Garnett. “While graffiti often carries associations of its early history, of urban blight, gang violence and decay, contemporary graffiti can be used as a medium in synch with social justice movements when it is wielded as a form of protest art.”
- Water shutoff activists face possible jail time for ‘Free the Water’ mural by Steve Neavling. “When the city of Detroit began shutting off water to low-income residents who couldn’t afford their water bills, some activists resorted to civil disobedience to stop what they called a draconian, inhumane response to delinquent payments…”
- #FreeTheWater: Detroit Artists Fight Felony Charges and Prison Time by Brenda Montaña Aguilar. “While Flint and Detroit officials continue to walk free for their actions, 2 artists face serious charges for an alleged graffiti act…”
- Apparently Painting “Free The Water” On A Water Tower Can Land You Jail Time by Bridget Casey. “The water shut-offs in Detroit began in March 2014, when the city’s Water and Sewerage Department announced its aggressive plan to cut off service to customers…”
For more background on the Detroit Water Crisis:
- Detroit Is Ground Zero in the New Fight for Water Rights by Laura Gottesdiener. “As many as 25,000 families are at risk of having their water shut off. These activists are fighting back…”
- Mapping the Water Crisis by We the People of Detroit Community Research Collective. “Visualizing publicly accessible data to understand the geographic and systematic impact of austerity policies on the City of Detroit…”