UPDATE: HERT and MFONE have since been released from prison.
On September 7th, 2010 Ian Debeer was sentenced to 1-3 years in a state penitentiary for the crime of writing graffiti.
He plead guilty to 73 counts of “Criminal Mischief” and 1 count of “Possession of an Instrument of Crime with intent to employ it criminally”. For which, after his prison term, he will serve 2-5 years probation and be required to pay $46,000 in restitution.
For some, graffiti is an attempt to break the separation between an impersonal urban landscape and the vibrancy of life. It is a very literal assertion of the value of creativity over the sanctity of property, a visual declaration of the will to live. Politicians, from positions of unchecked power, simplistically assert that graffiti is “wrong”. They attempt to coerce their constituency into assimilating their morality, as if “right” and “wrong” really are objective terms. For writers, the world isn’t so *black and white*. Why, asks the writer, can’t the dead walls of our city become the canvases of our aspirations?
Of course, there are very real reasons why youthful creativity is so brutally repressed. It forces a reconsideration of the real nature of property relations in regards to the lives of actual people. It calls everything into question.
Pittsburgh has been home to some of the worlds most talented writers. They have made our streets burst with energy and subtlety re-arrange the landscape into an urban canvass. They scale bridges, buildings, and police cars to “get up”, shattering the notion of what was once thought impossible They are an inspiration to those who yearn for a different world. In this glory they have also been vilified and banished as notorious outlaws by politicians and cops. Repression has taken a number of forms and comes from many outlets, including the state, media, and so called “community” organizations. Seemingly they have banded together to be a continual element of cruelty in the writers life. As with all rebellion, repression is inevitable.
In 2002, 19 year old Michael Monack, better known as MOOK, plead guilty to “Criminal Mischief” and “Criminal Trespass” and was required to pay restitution but did not serve any jail time. Police have claimed he had caused more than $100,000 dollars in damage to property.
In 2008, 22 year old Daniel Montano, better known as MFONE, plead guilty to “Criminal Mischief” and was sentenced to 2 1/2 to 5 years in state prison for writing graffiti. Police have claimed he has caused more than $713,801 dollars in damage to property. His trial became a media spectacle, our very own ‘OJ’ trial minus the multi-million dollar lawyers. We are happy to report he has been released from jail after serving 1 year of his sentence.
In November 2006, The Graffiti Task Force was formed and has three full-time detectives. Since its inception, it has made over 54 arrests. Behind many of the arrests is Daniel T. Sullivan Jr., a Detective working for the Pittsburgh Police Department.
It is not without note that in all theses graffiti cases our fellow writers have plead guilty. In some cases the police have received help from other writers cooperating with the police. This is with the utmost contempt. NEVER TALK TO POLICE. We know that Sullivan and all cops for that matter use coercion, lies, false evidence, and harassment to beat a conviction out of us, our families, and our friends. So let’s stick together.
Ian is currently serving his sentence at SCI Pittsburgh and can be written at:
Ian DeBeer JS3127
P.O. Box 99991
Pittsburgh, PA 15233
On April 17th and 18th 2009 A benefit party was held for HERT. Over 100 people attended. In the coming months benefits, letter writings, and other events that help to support Ian, raise awareness, and join people together will be organized.
For the destruction of jails and in solidarity with all those who attack the system,
-Some pissed off friends of Ian.