FRED RADTKE SPEAKS OUT: Appearing and Disappearing Graffiti Murals In New Orleans By Doug MacCash: Monday, August 08, 2011, In the Times Picayune
I found your article very interesting, but there are a few things needed to be added to your article. Statements like “some graffiti may be beautiful and have genuine depth…remember Banksy’s post-Katrina poetic cartoons.”
It’s amazing that Banksy and post Katrina poetic cartoons are in the same sentence. When you say post-Katrina, it’s hard to think “poetic cartoons”, when everyone who had a life in New Orleans was recovering from the devastation. Also, Banksy did not get permission from the property owners to do any of those “poetic cartoons”. Even you said, Dougy boy, if the graffiti writer doesn’t get permission before he sprays, he’s a criminal. Thirdly, Mr. Banksy doing this wonderful work, being a very rich person that he is, instead of putting it on canvas, selling it on e-bay, for thousands of dollars, and donating the money to the recovery of the city, or giving it to the arts council, for development of future artists, comes to New Orleans, massages his ego, and leaves. Nothing but “poetic cartoon memories”, “King Robbo” was right. He said, “Banksy is not radical, he’s just a toy with a PR team. Though diluted, graffiti’s popularity has meant respected agencies are able to hook writers up with paid work and a gallery environment, but yet again, the issue of the ever increasing grey area between what is street-art and what is graffiti comes up.
That’s right “King Robbo”, that issue of the ever increasing “grey area” always comes up! The one time street artist Shepard Fairey who produced the famous “Hope” portrait was arrested months later for vandalism. You can take the man out of the street, but you can’t take the street out of the man! “Erasecase frustrating jumble” etc: Tell that to the property owner! He would appreciate that when he has to pay for removal.
Curry may be in the New Orleans museum of art, “Curry may not always have permission to post her prints, but the posted paper peels away over time” Mr. MacCash, either you are pregnant or you are not pregnant, there is no in between. So, she’s only a part-time criminal. You can take the woman out of the streets, but you can’t take the streets out of the woman!
Mr. MacCash, you may think her work was an “alluring addition to streetscape”, but the businesses and property owners in that area do not think so.
As for the apocalyptic animal against a background of exploding lava and churning sea water, etc: That’s what a neighborhood needs after Katrina, something to make us feel good, as well as seeing it every day. To remember the good old days!!
Chaos reigns: perhaps the taxi cab company next store thought this could boost their business. “maybe it looks similar to the guys who’ve painted the wall on Press & Burgundy in the by-water, that had been executed with permission of the wall’s owner.” …Permission by the owner, but not permission from the city of New Orleans. It was illegal the first time, the second time, and since, because you need permission from the city of New Orleans to put a mural up. Even Paul May, Director of Safety and Permits, related, it was illegal. Being an “art cryptic”, I thought you knew that.
Mr. MacCash, maybe the reason the city of New Orleans has a “perception of crime”, is, you glorify something that isn’t. I quote Mayor Mitch Landrieu, “the number one inhibitor in promoting tourism in New Orleans is the “Perception of Crime”.
FRED RADTKE SPEAKS OUT: New Orleans, Times Picayune article by Doug MacCash, Art Critic, Sept. 11, 2009 regarding Skylar Fein “Youth Manifesto”
Once again, I find myself humbled, by having Doug MacCash, art critic for the Times Picayune, writing an article about an up and coming artist, Skylar Fein, exhibiting his art, in the New Orleans art museum.
To quote Mr. MacCash, “the most powerful piece in the show isn’t a paean to punk rock, though it has the same spirit of adolescent outrage. Fein’s enormous blinking sign dedicated to New Orleans’ premier graffiti writer “Harsh”, is a stunning piece of carpentry. The 5 feet tall custom-made shadow-box letters, laced with strings of small light bulbs, are meant to shine from the second-floor museum windows over city park, like a theater marquee, so that people can “come here at night with dates, eat ice cream cones, and watch the beauty of Harsh”, Fein said. Fein said his affection for spray-painted Harsh tags began in the months after the flooding that followed hurricane Katrina in 2005. He welcomed the brusque message “broadcasting out over the spectacular destruction”, like a beacon of post-Katrina reality.
“I thought, “Yes, that’s it. He speaks for me. He speaks for everyone I know”. That was the golden age of Harsh.”
Near the blinking Harsh sign, Fein has created a small room to be lit with a set of smaller flashing letters that spell out “the Gray Ghost”, a reference to Harsh’s nemesis, graffiti eradicator Fred Radtke. In New Orleans, gray is the symbolic opposite of graffiti, it also is the symbolic opposite of youth.
Fein said that “Youth Manifesto is not an autobiographical walk down Memory Lane, as we might expect. As a “good kid” growing up in New York City, he felt that the graffiti that coated the subway stations and trains represented some sort of collapse of society. It was only later that he began to feel graffiti was thought-provoking. And it was only later in life that he discovered hard-edged music.
Well, as I said in the beginning of this article, I am humbled…I have finally made it into the New Orleans Museum of Art, I thank you….
Second, I want to thank Skylar Fein for his artwork. No matter what anybody thinks of it, it is inthe New Orleans Museum of Art, not in the street on someones’ property that has been vandalized. But Skylar, you left out the most important part of the display. You left the word “Top Mob”, that Harsh has been using for ten years. That’s right, you’ve only been in town four years. Harsh has been using “Top Mob” to intimidate neighborhoods with fear, not knowing if a drug dealer, or gang, is marking his or their territory in the neighborhood. Also, you left out the part that he has done over $500,000 in damage to the citizens of New Orleans. In your bio, you said you were a card carrying member of the socialist party, and spent a year in Russia….
I was wondering in the four years you were here, have you ever paid taxes to the City of New Orleans or owned property? The reason I asked was, it’s easy to have, in your words “affection for spray-painted Harsh tags in the months after the flooding that followed hurricane Katrina in 2005.” You also said “he (Harsh) welcomed the brusque message broadcasting out over the spectacular destruction, like a beacon of post-Katrina reality.”
You may think it was a “spectacular destruction”, but people who died, lived through the experience, lost everything they every owned, including their dignity, didn’t think it was” motion picture spectacular”. While you saw an opportunity to pick up post-flood wreckage, like other opportunists, the citizens of New Orleans up to this very day are trying to pick up their lives.
So when you said “I thought, “Yes, that’s it. He (Harsh} speaks for me. He speaks for everyone I know,” that was the golden age of Harsh”.
Well, apparently not all people agree with you, including the art critic who wrote about your exhibit…in an article in Nola.com, September, 15, 2008, Doug MacCash wrote, and I quote, “As an art lover, many people seemed to assume that I was pro-graffiti and against those who sought to eliminate it. Truth is, there was always a part of me that admired the single-mindedness and dedication of New Orleans’ anti-graffiti crusader Fred Radtke, aka the Gray Ghost. Radtke always seemed to take the job of removing graffiti much more seriously than the lackadaisical local graffiti artists took in applying it.
I never much cared if Radtke grayed over the various tags and doodles hastily sprayed here and there. Not because they were illegal, but because they were self-indulgent and stupid. The big balloony signatures and faux primitive drawings that passed for street art in New Orleans weren’t worth defending.
Let’s face it. It’s not 1980 anymore. Old-school graffiti is old hat. I’m sorry to be the one to tell them, but Harsh, Top Mob, and other nocturnal scribblers are, well, boring.”
Well Sky, if Dougy thought Harsh/Top Mob, even he got it right, thought Harsh was boring in 2008, what do think he is in 2009…Boring with lights. Tell the guy who has the ice cream cone concession stand, he better get another location, because it’s going to be a slow couple months. And as far as Harsh goes, he has put the perception of crime in this town, that is losing tourism, economic development, and quality of life for our citizens. By the way, in Art daily.org, you say your hometown is New York. Well, is it New York or New Orleans? A well known artist with a gallery, related guys like you are called cultural carpetbaggers…maybe instead of calling your exhibit “Youth Manifesto”, since you are 41 years old, you might want to call it “Mid-Life Crisis”….
FRED RADTKE SPEAKS OUT: City Business, Richard A. Webster 4/25/08 “Gray Ghost Launches Offensive at Cafe”
On April 19, a customer walked into Mojo Coffee house on Magazine Street and told employee Alicia Adams there was a strange man outside painting the side of the building. Adams recognized him immediately. It was Fred Radtke, the self-appointed scourge of graffiti. Radtke is the founder of Operation Clean Sweep, a non-profit dedicated to the eradication of graffiti. He covers up the sprayed-painted vandalism using buckets of gray paint, thus earning himself the infamous moniker, the “Gray Ghost.” Adams, 24, said she asked Radtke to “please don’t paint on our private property.” His response had left her shaken and afraid for her safety. Adams said Radtke verbally attacked her with the most offensive of obscenities, letting her know that he could care less what she thought and was going to do whatever he wanted. “He was screaming at me from across the street and in front of my customers while I’m at work trying to handle this in a professional manner”. After his tirade, Radtke got into his van and pulled away. Adams said she called the police, reported the incident, gave them Radtke’s license plate number and asked them to come by the café’, but the police never arrived. “Other people saw what was happening and were scared of him and worried about my safety because of his completely over-the-top, unwarranted reaction,” Adams said.
That was in the article…first I want to say, like always, Richard Webster, again plays to the mob…. Our company is Operation Clean Sweep, and my name is Fred Radtke. Mr. Webster refers to me as the Gray Ghost in the title. As you read this article, it sounds like a tabloid newspaper, then City Business magazine.
Here is what happened that day:
I drove up across the street with two volunteers and park the truck. I told the two volunteers not to go near that coffee shop, even though there was graffiti on a telephone on the corner. The reason I told them was the people inside hassle us all the time, where we actually had New Orleans police escort us in that area (this is documented with NOPD). I then started to cross the street to paint the graffiti off the telephone pole. Five people came out before I reached the telephone pole yelling and screaming, “Don’t touch our building, we are going to call police.” I said, “Do what you have to do,” and proceeded to paint out the graffiti on the telephone pole. While doing so these people continued to yell and scream. From that point, without saying a word, I returned to the truck. This all took no longer then 60 seconds. The two volunteers witnessed the whole thing. Plus, this is the important point: I would never, and I mean never, would curse at any people, particularly at a group of people who maybe filming me or recording me on their cell phones. The other point is I do not know who is in this coffee shop with baseball bats, or whatever, waiting for me to do something like that. Mr. Webster uses the title,” Gray Ghost Launches Offensive at Cafe”. Gee, Mr. Webster, your title sounds like I was involved in a “Desert Storm Operation”. If in Mr. Webster’s first paragraph “a customer saw a strange man outside painting the side of the building”, then why did miss Adams say,” he was screaming at me across the street”? If I was across the street, coming to paint the telephone pole,
Why did someone say, I was painting the building first, when I was across the street? Why would Miss Adams say,” please don’t paint on our private property.” she would have said, why did you paint on our private property?”
In the article, Mr. Webster wrote I said “I sweared to God,” I never cursed at her. Mr. Webster, I don’t have to “swear to God,” to prove to some staff writer, that I cursed at a woman. I did not do it, and I don’t do that.
In the article, Mr. Webster said business owners along Magazine St. have long complained that Radtke, who is not a city employee, has painted on their buildings without their permission. But when told of their concerns, the police do not do anything. My question Mr. Webster, is, who are these people? Name names, if we make a mistake, we will correct it. If they don’t want us on their property, call police to get our telephone number…and tell us. It isn’t that hard. But every article you write, you keep saying businesses complain to the police, but I don’t get businesses complaining to us.
But City Council at large, Jacquelyn Bechtel Clarkson, said the city has never authorized Operation Clean Sweep. “We want graffiti removed but we want it authorized and controlled as to when, where and how he can do it,” Clarkson said. “I know the city would never give Radtke authorization to do any of what he is doing, including going on someone’s private property and he certainly doesn’t have the right to be abusive to anybody, not in this city.”
All due respect to Councilwoman at large Clarkson, Operation Clean Sweep has been taking graffiti out for over 10 yrs. You have been in office those ten years, and not once did you ask what we are doing, set an appointment up, ask about an authorized comprehensive graffiti abatement program, that we have, ask us about businesses complaining, please contact them, etc.
The city has not spent one dollar from tax payers’ money on Operation Clean Sweep. The city never had a graffiti program in place, and still doesn’t today. When we first started, it took us two years to catch up to the graffiti,
Pre-Katrina, if we had a complaint, we would correct it. Only after Katrina and 5-7 thousand abandon buildings, we get people complaining to everybody, except to us. Why is this? Maybe it is because there are not that many complaints, and the people complaining are the ones that want graffiti, disorder and to put fear in the neighborhoods. And after 10 years of free service to the community, painting out over 10,000 tags, saving the police over 4,000 phone calls by creating the graffiti hotline, and winning national awards, citations from 2 presidents, and saving the city hundreds of thousand of dollars, at least Councilwoman at large Clarkson, what you could have done was at least gave us the courtesy to call us to get our side of the story, before quoting City Business, and receiving second hand information. Right or wrong, you could have made your own opinion, then gave it.
The real problem is that the city is not doing anything to stop graffiti, and that has created the need for a person like Fred Radtke, said Robert Wolf, past President of the Coliseum Square Neighborhood Association. “The situation we’re running into across the city is that we don’t have any real leadership at the top. So a lot of our neighborhoods have to do everything on their own,” Wolf said. ”Fred Radtke is a classic example of city government failure, and he’s stepping in to fill the void. But Radtke is an imperfect solution to a large problem, and businesses and property owners on Magazine Street have complained about his tactics,” Wolf said. Mr. Wolf, all due respect, as former president of the Coliseum Square Neighborhood Association, Pre-Katrina, Operation Clean Sweep worked with over 40 neighborhood associations, but I never was asked to attend a meeting, questioned about what we were doing, and had no letters, phone calls nor other communication with you…but you criticize us. Did you ever think that your neighborhood association is the most important part of what we do? Why? Because you never asked.
When you say “I believe his intentions are all but the best, and I don’t think he’s looking to do anything negative”, Wolf said, “but I think the problem for him is that it has become personal. And once it crossed that line, I think he’s had a hard time keeping it in balance and making the right choices in some cases.”
Mr. Wolf, we all have experienced the lack of leadership in government, and we always will. If you are that concerned about your neighborhood, as you say, your intentions are for the best, then maybe working on issues you see to improve the neighborhood could be brought to light by both of us. As for stepping over the line and making it personal, I don’t make any of what I do personal, unless myself, my family, or my volunteers are threatened with harm.
And once again, “businesses and property owners on Magazine Street have complained,” Mr. Wolf, who complained? And if so, did they contact us, did they contact you to contact us? Who?
In the article, when Demian Estevez, owner of Mojo, called Radtke to ask him about the confrontation with Adams, he said, Radtke was just as abusive to him.”he was yelling and screaming.” He said that he never touched our building and that the “little bitch” was lying”.
But when Estevez arrived at Mojo on April 19th, just an hour after Radtke left, he said there was a large splotch of gray paint on the side of the building that had never been there before. “I could still smell the primer paint” Estevez said. No one has sprayed graffiti on his building for years because the graffiti artists have respected his property. But now that Radtke has smeared gray paint on his building, all bets are off.
First, Mr. Estevez, when you called the graffiti hotline, because I don’t know who’s at the other end, whether we are being recorded, or someone who wants help, we never, and I mean never, for 10 years, representing the community, curse or be abusive, so sir, I have to call you a liar. Second, being accused of something, and you telling me I should go into some neighborhood with crime, because these are little boys out their doing graffiti is just your opinion. The little boys in your neighborhood have done tens of thousands of dollars worth of damage, and are still doing it.
The statement “when you arrived just an hour later, you could still smell the primer, and said, there was a large splotch of gray paint on the side of the building. Any painter or professional would tell you water base paint dries in 5 minutes, so it’s unlikely you could smell anything.
Second, I want the readers out there to pick up on these words, like “splotch”,”smear”, “self-appointed scourge of graffiti,” “infamous”, “gray ghost”, “crusade”, “the sting of Radtke”, “venomous”, these words are used over and over in articles written to belittle myself, and Operation Clean Sweep. Thirdly, let’s talk about your building. When myself, and two volunteers stopped across the street, I crossed over and painted out a telephone pole. No gray was on your building. The next day, I returned and saw a square gray about 12″x 12″ on your front building. I took pictures of the gray on your building, and the gray on the telephone pole. The gray on your building was a different color then on the telephone pole. How can that be…if I painted supposedly your building? Fourthly, we wrote to City Business “Letters to the Editor”,
Saying the same thing, but even challenging City Business to bring a camera person over to the building, and we would use graffiti remover to take the gray off. If there was graffiti underneath, we would take full responsibly, if there was nothing underneath, then we were set up, and someone is lying. City Business not only did not put our rebuttal in the “Letters to the Editor”, or responded to us, they did have other people respond, and wrote and extension of the article 4/25/09 & 4/28/09 blasting us. A month earlier they wrote “Gray Ghost Graffiti Solution has problems”. Yea, the problem is you don’t print our side of the story, seven stories were written post-Katrina, and six of the stories Mr. Webster plays to the mob, by using the headline “Gray Ghost”.
In the article, Mr. Estevez said “anything that is gray becomes a hot spot for graffiti artists.
Mr. Estevez, it took Operation Clean Sweep two years to catch up to graffiti when we first started. There was no gray then, if you travel up Magazine Street today, it is covered with graffiti, including all around your business. By the way, if graffiti artists respected your property, then why am I being accused of painting on your property?
In the article, Miss Adams related she was shocked that I spoke to her in that manner, maybe because I did not speak to you in that manner, she also said she heard I was a former marine, knew what I looked like, when I first showed up, customer said there was a strange man painting the side of the building, the self-appointed scourge of graffiti, a very scary man, and he seems completely unstable, these are your words, not mine. Then why didn’t you call the police, or the owner? He showed up an hour later, it wasn’t that important enough for him to return immediately, or call police. If I’m so dangerous, why did you go outside? It sounds like you were alone, but you weren’t. You had a group of people yelling at me while I was painting out the telephone pole. If I painted your wall, why would I go back and get another roller to paint the pole?
So it would be a different color gray? Possibly, but then why would I offer City Business to bring a camera person there to remove the gray, to see what was underneath? Good question.
In the article, on the same Saturday that Adams had her run-in with Radtke, one block down the street the owners of Eye Candy Tattoo felt the sting of the Gray Ghost. Donn Davis was inside with a customer when his cleaning lady, who had just left, called to tell him that Radtke was outside the shop. By the time Davis went outside, the Ghost was gone, but he left behind his calling card, a large splotch of gray paint on one of the store’s front posts. “Someone had written something in crayon, and I had wiped part of it off,” Davis said. “I was going to have our cleaning girl clean off the rest, but then this guy comes and paints over it. He didn’t come inside to ask or anything. Davis called the police, and two officers came by to take a report.
“They said if I saw him to call and they’d ticket him for painting on private property, but that’s all they can do.” Davis said. Across the street from Eye Candy, Radtke painted over graffiti on the windows of an abandon building and that has caused additional problems, Davis said.
“I pointed it out to the police who came by. You can’t see in there real good, so now people go hang out in there. I’ve seen hookers taking guys in there, and guys going in to smoke rock. They have a nice little enclave there because the windows are gray. At some point something has to change. Radtke has been trying the same thing since the 90’s and it’s just not working, but he keeps at it and that’s the definition of insanity.”
Ok, let me understand this, we are reading the “City Business Newspaper”, I think. I keep getting back to this tabloid mentality. Anyway, first question does Mr. Davis own the property where he has his Tattoo Parlor, or was that a store, like in the article, where you can buy candy and get a tattoo at the same time. We document everything we do, and we have many pictures on this building that is not just a little crayon mark. “By the time we went outside, “the ghost was going. “We disappeared into thin air, Mr. Davis, don’t you know we are invisible?” So, again, let me understand this, Mr. Davis, calls police for painting on a property he doesn’t own, and for painting out a crayon. But Mr. Davis relates to police that we made it easier for hookers, and drug addicts to do their business across the street, in an abandon building, because Mr. Davis saw hookers and drug addicts go in there. Mr. Davis, why didn’t you call police about it, rather than blame us? If the windows are painted, and the door open, why not lock the door? If the windows are covered and the door is open, can you see in there at night? What’s wrong with this picture?
Mr. Davis states, we’ve been doing this since the 90’s and it’s just not working. But he keeps at it, and that’s the definition of insanity.” Mr. Davis is an expert in graffiti removal and psychiatry, his part time job is tattooing. That’s just your opinion, Sir, just like this is my opinion. Again, look at your neighborhood today, it’s covered with graffiti, and your right, Sir, I don’t have to paint out graffiti, what I can do is report the graffiti to city hall, where there is an ordinances that will fine property owners $500, if they don’t take graffiti off in 30 days, and the city sure needs the money. The insanity statement is the same if you care about the quality of life, reduction of crime, economic development, tourism, and just picking up a piece of trash, to keep this city clean. You call it insanity, I call it taking pride in the city I love, and a lot of other people think the same way.
FRED RADTKE SPEAKS OUT on the City Business Article 10/24/08: Is This the End of the Road for the Grey Ghost?
In the article, Richard Webster made the statement, I painted over a “commissioned mural”, but Mr. Webster first, doesn’t understand the word, commissioned. If he did look it up under city ordinances, rather than get his information from here-say, or a blogger, or even verified his statements, he would understand, you need a mural permit from the city of New Orleans, which is handled through a committee.
The property owner gave permission to the “muralist”, but the property owner did not get permission from the city. So all you folks that can’t get a mural permit from the city, contact Mr. Webster, he’s an expert on that subject, by accusing myself, and Operation Clean Sweep for painting out a “sanctioned mural”.
Also, take notice that Mr. Webster plays to the “Mob”, when he shows no respect to myself, or Operation Clean Sweep by using the tabloid statement “is this the end of the Grey Ghost “, as a headline. Also in the article, he says ,”the charge represents a victory for many private property owners, who have complained for years, that Radtke operates as a vigilante, routinely trespassing on their property to “smear” grey paint over graffiti on houses and businesses without permission”.
That’s an interesting statement…where’s the proof Mr. Webster, or is it more here-say from your bloggers. Pre-Katrina, if myself or any volunteers made a mistake, first I would take full responsibility, second, correct it. The graffiti hotline has been in service for 10 years, and if we did get calls, we corrected the problem, immediately. If people called police, and complained, all they had to do is call us. Post-Katrina same thing, no difference, except, 5-7 thousand new abandon properties are now in the city; and by the way Mr. Webster, we paint out graffiti, we don’t “smear” it out.
In the article, Mr. Webster relates, Michelle Gallodoro, owner of Southern Waterproofing, granted permission, to “local artist” Clayton Nepreux, to paint the “mural” statement, “this is the third time Nepreux is going to have to paint the “mural” due to Radtke’s actions.
Well, Miss Gallodoro, did you apply for a mural permit three times? The answer is no, because you never did. It’s illegal, and subject to a $500 fine. Why can you get away with it, and other people in this city have to pay for it?
In the article, Miss Gallodoro said she sent a letter, saying not to paint on the wall. Where did you send it? We did not receive any letter. All you had to do is call the 5th district police station, and ask them to contact us or ask for our telephone number and request it. But the reason you did not was because you know it’s illegal. We had permission from the previous owners, Pre-Katrina, to paint that wall for years. Again, we make mistakes, and I will take full responsibility.
In the article, when Nepreux’s team was first painting the Southern Waterproofing “mural”, he said several NOPD officers arrived at the scene and threaten to throw then in jail. It was only after they produced their “certificate of permission” that the police backed off.
This one is a good one…”certificate of permission”….Mr. Webster, was this piece of paper notarized or signed by the chief of police? No, it’s a piece of paper by the property owner giving the “muralists” permission to paint on their property, but no permission from the city of New Orleans for murals. The other side of the coin is, graffiti taggers ask unknowing property owners to do graphics or a design on their property, and the owner gives them that permission. what happens is the graphic or design starts to change after-wards, where other taggers put things up from nasty words, to guns, etc. and when police catch these guys in the act, the taggers pass the permission paper to one another, so they don’t get caught…on this wall the design has changed at least four times. Are there nasty words, are there guns? No, but look around the neighborhood, graffiti has tripled since this “mural” has been up. Signs, warehouses, buildings 6 stories high, covered with graffiti and rooftop buildings 50 yards long.
The neighborhood is being held captive by this kind of action. You may not like me personally, you may not like the grey. What I am giving you is fact…more graffiti, more crime. I didn’t say this, the professionals say it. Look around your neighborhood and say to yourself, do I feel safe?
In the article, we spend our time and money creating art, something people want, and then to have this come and destroy it, and then get preferential treatment, it’s a kick in the pants. If I was out there painting someone’s building without permission, I’d be in jail right now.
Statement was from Mr. Nepreux…the number one graffiti tagger in the city, AKA known as “Harsh”. He has done over $500,000 worth of damage to the city, in ten years, using the word “Topmob,” to terrorize the community, affecting tourism and economic development, by creating the perception of crime, along with his” team, AKA “Meek”, 40/40 and KBT; And by the way, if someone does more than $500 worth of damage to a building, they can go to jail for two years…new law. There is a city ordinance that states, any property owner with graffiti on their building more then thirty days is liable with a $500 fine. So Operation Clean Sweep will report it to the city, which needs the money, and not paint over it, unless requested, which has always been a free service, to protect the property owner.
In this story, Mr. Hernandez states that the Chief of Police, the mayor of the city of N.O .have commended Fred Radtke for his work and say he is simply doing what the city would do about graffiti if they had the resources to solve this problem, that is plaguing the city. In the same area of blog, Mr. Hernandez has over 107 pictures taken by John Donley showing pictures of grey paint stating that we have painted over these buildings, whether we did or not ,it hasn’t been proven, yet they put our name and our company ,and in one picture stating an accident was caused in Broadmoor because we supposedly painted over a sign which was covered, yet Mr. Donley has no pictures of Fred Radtke or any information except a statement that we caused this accident. On Mr. Donley’s website, 2/16/2009, Mr. Donley stated he was the one that created NOLA.com and has been laid off along with other editorial staff writers, perhaps that is why Fred Radtke and OCS could not get printed his rebuttal to letters to the editors in the Times Picayune or Nola.com. My suggestion would be for Mr. Donley instead of photographing over 107 pictures of grey paint ,would be to photograph graffiti vandalism that are plaguing the city of N.O, but that might be for his next job. Operation Clean Sweep has been criticized, but I do not see any of these critics asking the city of N.O. how we can improve our program financially since we have been doing this for 10 years and offering a free service to the community…. but also using products directly from NYC that are used in graffiti removal, that to be used here in New Orleans but because of the expense involved, and because of hurricane Katrina ,the city of N.O., the NOPD, and OCS, have still not recovered completely from this horrible event. If “artists “that are in the street, are complaining about what we do, perhaps instead of complaining, they could attend a non-pac meeting with the police dept ,or attend a neighborhood association meeting on how we can improve on the neighborhood by eliminating graffiti and matching the colors up to the various properties that has already been documented pre-Katrina ,with over 40 neighborhood associations and 100 volunteers.
I want to say, I am humbled to be on the front page of the Times Picayune in color, two days in a row, one week before a national election, and the final week , for a judgment of a suspended sentence, for trespassing. First time in 10 years, painting over 10,000 graffiti tags, and saving the new orleans police dept. over 4,000 phone calls, by creating the graffiti hotline, where they,could be concentrating on more important crimes, rather then just filling out reports, and usually, the graffiti stays on the building. Offering this service for free to the community, and dealing with over 40 neighborhood associations, and over 100 volunteers, pre-Katrina, mistakes are made, that’s why they call them volunteers, but no matter the problem, we corrected it, and I took full responsibility for any mistakes. Post-Katrina, we are dealing with over 5-7,000 abandon properties, as well as a city that is still recovery from not just Katrina, but the evacuation from hurricane Gustav. Even the 5th district police station is not back in their facility, they are in a temporary building , which was a former furniture store. Mr. MacCash and the editorial “staff opinion”, mentioned that the “artists”had permission from the property owner…But did the property owner have permission from the city of New Orleans. All murals done on properties in the city of New Orleans ,has to have a mural permit. Paul May, director of safety and permits, declared this wall as an illegal mural with a $500 fine. Frankly, I am surprised Mr. MacCash, the art critic for the TP, doesn’t know the law, since he promoted an illegal act on the 2nd article which was put on the front page, back in October, glorifying a new illegal mural. Operation Clean Sweep does support the art community. It is a shame, Mr. MacCash doesn’t give legitimate artists, with galleries, that are hurting, the same coverage he does with graffiti taggers, and the street.
First, OCS took out over 45 blocks of graffiti the same day of the event where we were featured in the paper. On the way back at St. Claude and Desire, a supermarket had a similar design, as the wall that we mistakenly painted over. We asked the property owner if he had a mural permit, and he said, he did not and did not need one. We then left the premises and went to the 5th district police station and reported the incident. The police then immediately then went to the property owner and cited him for having an illegal mural. Thirty minutes later, we went over to the wall that had this “mural ,”and if we felt that we were not allowed on the property we would have gone back to the 5th district and reported the same incident as we did 30 minutes earlier, of not having a mural permit. But because we have been taking this wall out for over 5 years,(documented) pre Katrina, with permission from the property owner, after Katrina ,what evolved from this, was that the proper owner sold the property without our knowledge, and we were accused by the new property owner for trespassing.
The ”artists’ got permission from the property owner, but the property owner did not get permission from the city of N.O. so this makes the so called mural, illegal. THE ”ARTISTS.”……….One known as “Harsh ” has done over $500,000 worth of vandalism …….in the last 10 years, to the city of N.O. The majority of all his tags have the word “Top Mob”. This has been documented with photographs over the years that we have been taking as we painted out the graffiti tags.
Along with these pictures, will be enclosed with this statement ,documenting what we are saying. He has painted graffiti 17 stories up on Canal St. with rollers, intimidating neighborhoods, by terrorizing them with the word “Top Mob” and destroying economic development for this city, for investors that are afraid to come in and invest ,with the perception that N.O. is a dangerous place to live. Even Mayor Nagin, former Chief of Police Compass, painted out the the 10,000th graffiti tag ,with OCS ,and the mayor asked whether or not this tag, which was “Harsh”, and the word “Top MoB” underneath was gang related. The 2nd ” ARTIST”……….know as “Meek”, can be seen on Rampart St. before Esplanade, behind a billboard with the word “Top MoB” next to his name. This is not art, this is vandalism and the people that pay taxes and want to invest in a safe community are being robbed of this luxury.
All this above was submitted to the “Letters to the Editor” for the TIMES PICAYUNE but was never published.
Approximately one week before this incident, OCS had a press conference with State Rep Ligi, NOPD Deputy, Marlon Defillo, State Police Capt. Curlee, Jefferson Parish Colonel John Fortunato, Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway, Assistant to the DA in Jeff Par, Asst to the DA in Orleans Par, and OCS, presenting a new graffiti law from the state that anyone caught doing graffiti with more than $500 worth of damage, could have potential of 2 years in prison plus fines. Channel 4, Channel 6, Channel 8, Channel 26 all showed up for the press conference ……except the TIMES PICAYUNE. The following week we were on the front page, two days in a row.