NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A group of people was arrested Wednesday night for allegedly tagging the 5Pointz Building in Long Island City, Queens, two nights after the street art mecca was whitewashed – according to a published report.
The group used markers to write “RIP 5Pointz” on the building at 45-46 Davis St. in Queens, according to a DNAInfo report. Volunteers at 5Pontz issued multiple tweets about the arrests of five “kids,” for what they described as “writing rip messages with markers on walls that are to be destroyed.”
Artists’ spokeswoman Marie Cecile Flaguel told 1010 WINS she heard three of the defendants were released with tickets and ordered to appear in court at a later date.
The building was covered in white paint by the owner Monday night into Tuesday morning.
At least one other tagging incident also has been reported at the 5Pointz building, but the suspect was not arrested, Flaguel said.
Earlier Wednesday, a graffiti artist was caught, but was not arrested when he agreed to clean up what he did, Flaguel said.
Flaguel said she did not understand why police were going after taggers at a building that will soon be demolished anyway.
“The building is going down. He keeps on saying it. So why does he care about kids going on with markers, and why are his security hired agents calling 911 for kids with markers, when I’m sure that there are other issues that the NYPD can or should be addressing right now?” she said.
She argued that allowing tagging would help assuage bad feelings about the whitewashing job.
“At the end of the day, the building is going down. Let those kids write a message in the loading dock, which is private property. Let them grieve, rather than create another wave of anger.”
For the past 20 years, graffiti artists have been allowed to use the building as a canvas, but last month the owner got the city’s permission to tear 5Pointz down and build 800 luxury condos and 200 affordable units.
The $400 million redevelopment project will include a new public park, over 50,000 square feet of retail space and a 250 space public parking garage.
Flageul said Tuesday that building owner Jerry Wolkoff committed “murder” and “genocide” by painting over the artwork, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
“Just like Nero owned Rome and set it on fire, he decided to disrespect over a thousand artists today,” Flageul told WCBS 880’s Alex Silverman Tuesday. “I knew he was going to do it.”
“Jerry Wolkoff told me at City Council that if he had had any indication that landmarking was taking us seriously, he would paint the building overnight. So that’s one promise he kept,” Flageul added.
But Wolkoff said Tuesday afternoon that the move was not done maliciously.
“I’m never going to say anything bad about them. Why would I allow it to go on for close to 20 years if I didn’t not only like but love the work that they do? The last thing I would want them to do is get arrested while I’m painting the building, their emotions would run over. I felt if I did it in the morning, it would get over with,” Wolkoff told Silverman.
He said the overnight paint job was done in an effort to avoid confrontation.
“I can just picture the building coming down one piece at a time. It would be torture for me and it would torture for them.” Wolkoff said. “It’s like a Band-Aid, I just felt, one shot.”
Last month, artists filed a lawsuit claiming that their work was protected under an obscure federal law — The Visual Artists Rights Act, but last week a judge refused to grant an injunction that would have stopped demolition.
The warehouse is expected to be demolished by the end of the year.
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