If Bloomberg wins another term, we hope he relaxes a bit and tells the police to focus on arresting dangerous criminals, as opposed to bicyclists, political protestors, and street artists. This week's example: harmless graffiti artist Alyce Santoro was putting up one of her cute upside-down Life stickers on Thursday night when she was grabbed by one of those fake-taxi police squads. She has an interesting and amusing account of her incarceration on WoosterCollective today:
Then the woman officer said, “We’re going to have to arrest you.” And I said, “Seriously!? For putting a sticker on a pole?” And she said, “That’s the law, and it’s our job to enforce it.” Then she took my bag, and handcuffed me. I was dumbfounded. I suggested that perhaps just making me pull the sticker off the pole and promise not to do it again would be sufficient punishment for a first offence, but they did not agree. They ducked me into the cab, which was not a cab at all, but a squad car. I sat in the back seat with the lady cop, while the more subdued of the two men sat in the passenger seat and took notes. What was my age? 37. Had I ever been arrested before? Nope, never even had a speeding ticket. Did I have any drug paraphernalia, weapons, or sharp objects on me? No…I assured them I was about the most innocuous offender they could possibly have hoped to capture.
They wanted to know more about what was behind the criminal mind. Why was the sticker placed upside down? They passed around polaroids of the crime scene. Oh, they were so precious, so perfect...artwork as evidence! I wanted to hold them, but couldn’t, because my hands were cuffed behind my back. Before I realized how it might sound, I said, “I’ve never been handcuffed before.” The men chuckled awkwardly, then the one driving said, “I’m not gonna touch that one!” and the lady cop said, “Yeah, you better not.”
Taking three officers off the street to arrest a harmless artist is not a good use of police resources. Intelligent people can differ on the value of street art or graffiti, but there's got to be a better way to handle these situations. For instance, confiscation of the materials, writing up a ticket on the spot and letting the person go (to an artist, a $200 fine is probably more than enough to convince them to ply their art somewhere else.) What do you guys think of these kinds of arrests?