There’s a new chapter in the never-ending war between graffiti writers and the police — a book penned by a retired cop has sparked outrage in the scribbling community.
And luckily for Brooklyn bystanders, the two sides are poised to butt heads at a forum at the powerHouse Arena in DUMBO.
On March 19, graffiti writers will duke it out with Joseph Rivera, whose newly released book, “Vandal Squad: Inside the New York City Transit Police Department, 1984–2004,” details his experiences chasing taggers.
But graffiti “artists” say it’s a fallacy-filled fiction by a man who used unscrupulous tactics to put graffitists in jail — and is now attempting to use their names and art to put money in his bank account.
“This book doesn’t have any value — literary or documentary,” said former graffiti artist Ket, who claims that the book includes his uncredited photographs. “It’s trash and it’s inaccurate.”
Rivera maintains that “Vandal Squad” is a truthful and a valuable resource for anyone interested in taking a closer look at the city’s vandals and the officers who lock them up.
“Many individuals have written about their lives with no backlash, the fact that I am providing the reader with a different insight of graffiti disturbs certain individuals,” said Rivera.
“There is nothing hypocritical about chronicling my career in the Transit Police. It would have been hypocritical if I worked for all those years combating graffiti, and then decided to become a ‘graffiti vandal’ after I retired.”
Rivera and Ket will be joined at the panel discussion by retired Vandal Squad officers Ken Chiulli and Steven Mona, as well as graffiti writer Cope2, former tagger Ellis Gallagher, and street art blogger Stern Rockwell.
Joe Rivera, author of “Vandal Squad,” at the powerHouse Arena [37 Main St. between Water and Front streets in DUMBO, (718) 666-3049], March 19, 7 pm. Free.
©2009 Community News Group
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