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In yet another move to get London ready for the Olympics, police have arrested four graffiti artists in a pre-emptive strike against damages to the city, though one artist claims the charges are unfounded.

Darren Cullen, 38, who paints under the graffiti tag “Ser,” was one of the four arrested by British Transport Police. His company, Graffiti Kings, provides completely legal graffiti artwork to clients with big names like Microsoft, Red Bull, and Adidas, a sponsor of the Olympics. They have even done work for Team Great Britain.

Cullen claims that he has never painted illegally on a wall or train since he started creating graffiti art in 1983.

“People from the graffiti community are encouraged to find legal and productive ways to use their skills, which is exactly what I've spent a decade and a half doing, but I'm still being harassed by the police in this way. It just isn't right,” said Cullen in an interview with VICE, an online publication.

Cullen thinks they found him through a web domain he created for some younger artists, who may have posted some photos of illegal graffiti.

Three other men reportedly were arrested Tuesday morning, identified as a 25-year-old and 38-year-old from Kent, an 18-year-old from London and a 32-year-old from Surrey.

These arrests come in light of Wednesday’s court ruling by Lord Justice Richards and Mr Justice Openshaw said that police pre-emptive strikes for Prince William’s wedding a year ago were not unlawful. Human rights activists have voiced concerns about what affect this ruling will have on Games security.

All four have been released on bail, with restrictions forbidding them from holding any spray paint, riding any of the public trains around London, or being within a mile of any Olympic Games venues.

Cullen’s business, Graffiti Kings, has been built on the foundations of changing public attitudes towards graffiti. However, now, because of the bail restrictions and the police confiscation of his laptop, Cullen will not be able to run his business or create the artwork commissioned by his clients.

“I'm sure it was all about keeping the city under control during the Olympics. I don't know, I guess they are trying to look like they are doing a lot in preparation for the Games,” said Cullen to VICE. “Making sure their arrest statistics in the run up to the events look impressive. All I could think was, ‘There is no reason why I'm here.’”

Click here to read the Darren Cullen's full interview with VICE.

Image via Getty.


Police raid homes and arrest graffiti artists in pre-emptive Olympic swoop
Digital Mag

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