Young graffiti artist Israel Hernandez-Llach dies in police custody. Miami Florida.
Police in Miami Florida were called to the scene of an abandoned property, where 18 year old graffiti artist Israel Hernandez-Llach was trespassing. When Israel did not comply with the cops orders, he was tazered by one of the officers. Hernandez posed no threat to the officers or other individuals and thus should not have warranted the use of this “non-lethal weapon”. Soon after Hernandez died of cardiac arrest that was caused by the 50,000 volts entering his body. Many questions arise from such a scenario but the primary one would be concerning the probable legality of tazers. It seems that because they are not considered lethal weapons; people (or law enforcement) may use stun guns more freely when they,as officers, are not even in any danger. “Lurch attempted to run past the single officer to escape arrest.”
The second problem lies in the gray area where graffiti belongs in the art world. The huge variance in styles and talent create quite the spectrum of different people who call themselves graffiti artists. Taggers and low skill graffiti artists are the usual suspects who we see simply tagging their nick name or some phrase on the wall. It is done to mark their ‘territory’ like a dog’s marking of a lamp post and almost all the time this is the vandalism that we see on our local businesses or homes. These practices alienate the other graffiti artists or street artists that we see, the ones who invest time and effort into developing an idea then laying it out on a wall or interesting location. Often innovative spray painting styles or stenciling is used alongside an image that has a purpose or message to convey. Some graffiti art is used to commemorate a fallen friend or convey an irony in society. Hernandez seemed to primarily belong to the more developed graffiti artist category, his pieces of work resemble large bright murals with moderate detail. These works could be used for advertisements or as a form of decoration for local businesses if concluded properly but since graffiti artists are usually all categorized by society in the same group, this obviously leads to prejudice, further alienating decent graffiti artists like Hernandez who use abandoned buildings as their canvases consequently being labeled as criminal artists . No one forced Hernandez to break the law by defacing private property, it was his own will.
My points are that the expectations that culture creates for people seem to shape their fate more than people think. Maybe if graffiti art had an understood place in society as advertising or just art most of them would not have to resort to being classified as mere taggers. That the use of a known deadly weapon by law enforcement to secure an arrest for a minimal nuisance violation is an excessively lazy and inhumane policy for the edit… “professional law enforcement”, written on all of the patrol cars of Miami Dade County.
A.F.C. Miami Art Reviews.Inc.
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