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It’s no secret that graffiti and street art are being targeted in the run up the London 2012 games. Each day stories emerge of artworks treasured by locals being removed by excited councils, or of graffiti that had remained untouched for years suddenly being washed brown by the over-zealous buff. Even so, we didn’t expect that unsolicited artwork would be considered such a threat to the image of the country that the authorities would manipulate the legal system to send a message out the graffiti artists – picking up anyone they could with a past in graffiti and slapping them with harsh bail conditions. Whether the BTP ‘s arrests served any genuine purpose, or if they were simply a tool used to issue people with draconian bail conditions, only they can say.
These men have told us that they are not currently involved in painting illegal graffiti. These men are living law-abiding lives, but can no longer travel on public transport or enter large areas of London due to harsh bail conditions. In addition, laptops, mobile phones and other devices were taken into evidence by police. How these men are supposed to work and look after their families under these conditions, they are not sure.
When Adidas wanted to create a mural to illustrate the launch of its new football boot last year, it turned to "professional graffiti artist" Darren Cullen for help. Cullen, 38, runs a firm providing spraycan artwork and branding to major international companies, and says he has never painted illegally on a wall or train.
But despite having worked with one of the Games's major sponsors, on Tuesday Cullen was arrested by British Transport Police (BTP) and barred from coming within a mile of any Olympic venue, as part of a pre-emptive sweep against a number of alleged graffiti artists before the Olympics.
... in connection with a live and ongoing criminal investigation into linked incidents of criminal damage committed between January 2007 and July 2012.