A Graffiti Artist is Suing the NYPD For Destroying His Mural

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.”
Torry Threadcraft

Torry Threadcraft is a writer who covers music, sports, and culture. You can find his daily ramblings and culinary takes at @dreadcraft.

Published by
Torry Threadcraft

Recent Posts

What’s AP African American Studies and Why Has Florida Banned It?

Here's what to know about AP African American Studies and why the course has become… Read More

February 1, 2023

D’Angelo Will Be Featured on Audible’s ‘Words + Music’ Series

D'Angelo and Jazmine Sullivan have joined Audible's Words + Music roster, each artist hosting a… Read More

February 1, 2023

A ‘King of the Hill’ Revival Is Coming to Hulu

Hulu is reviving beloved Fox animated sitcom King of the Hill, with co-creator Mike Judge… Read More

February 1, 2023

For Freestyle Fellowship, Their Grammy Nomination Is “A Long Time Coming”

Freestyle Fellowship members Aceyalone and Self Jupiter spoke about the Grammy nomination, releasing old and… Read More

February 1, 2023

Dr. Dre Celebrates 30 Years of ‘The Chronic’ By Bringing it Back to Streaming

Dr. Dre is celebrating the 30th anniversary of his debut album, The Chronic, with a 30th… Read More

February 1, 2023

Netflix Reveals How it Will Crackdown on Password Sharing

Netflix has updated their FAQ pages with details about exemptions and rules on password-sharing within… Read More

February 1, 2023