Berkeley graffiti event gets out of hand

September 11, 2012 1:58:37 AM PDT
Graffiti vandals spray painted their way through a Berkeley neighborhood over the weekend, damaging at least 13 buildings.

Alan Varela purchased a Berkeley warehouse in February and discovered that for the last 10 years, the space had been vacant, but far from empty -- graffiti artists had been using the open walls as their canvassed.

Varlera appreciates art says the tagged walls are just that. So before he started renovations, he had an idea -- one last hoorah before he had to take everything down.

"We want people to have a positive impression of what this was and not a negative impression," Valera said.

An opportunity for about a dozen artists to come in and use the walls as a canvas, but things quickly got out of hand.

Kathryn McCarthy and her husband Kevin own Bay Edge Cutlery Service. Their shop, along with several other businesses, was tagged.

The event was organized by Endless Canvas, a group of anonymous graffiti artists. Varela says about 4,000 people showed up, quickly flooding the streets and pouring into the neighborhood. Monday, Berkeley police were speaking with the victims of the vandalism and investigating the property damage.

"It is a crime," Berkeley Police Ofc. Jennifer Coats said. "We appreciate the artistic side of folks but when you actually vandalize people's property, depending on the damage, it could be a misdemeanor or felony offense."

Varlera says that the people who did this are not representative of graffiti art or the culture. When he found out about the vandalism and the out of pocket cost each would have to pay for clean-up, he told them all not to worry about it.

"Although it wasn't us that did any of this vandalism, we want to make sure that we take care of it so that they know we're serious about showing the real art here," he said.


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