Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Intrigue in Boston

Was Shepherd Fairey arrested to embarrass the Mayor of Boston?

Wooster Collective takes a well worded look at the conspiracy theory that is probably behind the resent arrest of OBEY outside the ICA on the eve of his largest exhibit to date.

via Wooster (read it HERE)

The real story about Shepard Fairey's arrest in Boston Friday night is the resulting riot that didn't happen – a riot that the Boston Police Department may have carefully planned to provoke and hoped would happen that evening, but didn't.

On January 2nd, Boston Mayor Thomas Menino proposed a one-year wage freeze for city workers, including the Boston Police Department. The Boston Police Superior Officers Federation agreed to a contract on January 23, but not until after the city dismissed its residency case against West Roxbury Police Sergeant Michael Hanson. In the mix of the deal was an alleged list of more than 25 superior police officers who are living outside the city in violation of their contracts' residency requirements. Through the use of strong-arm tactics, the Mayor got his wage freeze and at least 25 of Boston's Finest got to keep their jobs. The following day, two warrants were issued for Shepard Fairey's arrest.

On Wednesday, February 4th, Mayor Menino met with Shepard and was photographed shaking his hand following the unveiling of Fairey's 'Peace Goddess' banner on the North wall of City Hall at a public event to promote his show, Supply and Demand, at the Institute of Contemporary Art / Boston. Thursday night Shepard sat for a Q-and-A talk at the ICA which was publicized by the museum after which he signed autographs for more than an hour. Shepard was not arrested until two full weeks after the warrants had been issued and after numerous public appearances in Boston.

The obvious question is: Why did the police take so long after the warrant was issued to apprehend their man? Was it a matter of pure incompetence? As admiring fans of his work, were the police giving him opportunity to make appearances and put more art out on the streets of Boston? I don't think so.


It's my opinion based on what I experienced, Shepard Fairey became a pawn in an ugly political game in which the Boston Police Department was willing to risk the safety of the citizens it has sworn to protect in order to punish the Mayor for his shady deal. With cops and city government officials like that, who needs criminals? Apparently they do.

-Dave Combs, publisher of PEEL Magazine