Photo via Julie Torres

On July 17th artist Julie Torres was taken in by Brooklyn's Finest for painting on her own paper, that was taped up at North 11th Street and Bedford Avenue in Williamsburg. Plainclothes cops approached her on that afternoon and arrested her for graffiti, despite the fact she was painting a watercolor on her own store-bought paper that was only temporarily taped to a wall. The entire story is over at Hyperallergic, where they note that as Torres was being taken away by the cops, she asked if she could take her paintings with her because they were "her livelihood. She says the undercover cops started to laugh at her. 'You sell these, these are art? You’re a funny girl.'”

She was put in a holding cell for 23 hours, has been to court twice since the arrest, and had hundreds of dollars of her art supplies confiscated by The Man (according to the police report: “43 tubes of paint, 22 containers of foil paper, and 2 palettes from the defendant’s bag"). Torres told the site: “I’m learning that Brooklyn courts are very tough on graffiti. They’re cracking down in a big way. It’s unfortunate that I got caught up in that—because I was definitely not making graffiti. What I’ve learned is—the moment they call it graffiti—you are screwed. If you so much as put a sticker on a building—you’re screwed.”

According to the NYPD’s Vandals Task Force, Torres should have asked permission before starting her painting. When grilled more by the Hyperallergic folk, it became clear the laws regarding graffiti are blurry at best, and quite possibly not understood by those enforcing them.