A Graffiti Artist is Suing the NYPD For Destroying His Mural

Torry Threadcraft Torry Threadcraft is a contributing writer at Okayplayer where he…
Photo Credit: Wally Gobetz

The Kaves mural was destroyed during an NYPD campaign to paint over graffiti across the city.

On April 10th, the NYPD‘s 84th Precinct launched a campaign to clean up graffiti across northwest Brooklyn. Among the pieces destroyed in the process was “Death From Above,” a piece by Michael “Kaves” McLeer, renowned artist and Brooklyn native. In his spare time, McLeer owns and works at Brooklyn Made Tattoo parlor in Bay Ridge. On Tuesday, McLeer filed a class-action lawsuit, accusing the NYPD of endangering “hundreds of valuable, recognized, and permitted artworks.”

Kaves dedicated “Death From Above” to his mother Donna Blanchard, who died in 2014 in a hit-and-run accident that also claimed the life of his four-year-old sister Michelle Blanchard. The driver was never found.

“When I found out this piece was destroyed, I was devastated,” Kaves told the New York Daily News. “When I made this work, I was full of pride. I felt it had an epic quality to it. It was a piece dedicated to my mother and became one of my oldest public pieces, standing untouched for 13 years.”

 

The 51-year-old McLeer argues that he had permission to paint the mural. The suit says in addition to Kaves, “the property’s owner, the tenant of the property, and many community members were shocked and enraged by the NYPD’s attack on the Mural which had been appreciated and preserved by the community.”
Kaves is asking other graffiti artists to join him in the fight against the department’s efforts.
“The police department needs to recognize what they destroyed was art and compensate artists for the damages,” McLeer said. “Artists and the general public itself have the American right to express themselves. And at the end of the day, the city has made a deliberate decision to remove a citizen’s artistic expression.”

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