Detroit Artist Arrested While Painting Mural City Hired Him to Complete
By R.J. Johnson - @rickerthewriter
June 24, 2019
An artist in Detroit who received a $10,000 contract to paint 10 murals as part of a blight abatement project was arrested by police after they suspected him of being a vandal.
Sheefy McFly was working on the mural commissioned by the City of Detroit last Wednesday when two Detroit police officers approached him, who believed he was vandalizing the wall.
"When I tried to walk towards my bag, they tried to act like I was resisting arrest and trying to run. They ran up on me like I'm dealing dope, bro, like I had crack on me and I had a gun in my bag," McFly told the Metro Times of the incident.
Detroit's City Walls program is a city-sponsored effort to reduce graffiti by commissioning artwork in public or city-owned spaces. For the first few days, McFly didn't have any issue with police while he was working on his mural. Then, on Wednesday, McFly says he forgot his permit and that's when he was approached by officers.
"It’s an oxymoron — doing something for the city and being arrested by the city," McFly told The Detroit Free Press on Friday.
McFly - whose real name is Tashif Turner - attempted to explain to the responding officers he'd been hired by the city's managing contractor, 1xRun, to complete the mural. But, without his permit in hand, police didn't believe McFly as more officers showed up to the incident. The situation continued to escalate, despite a city officials arriving to vouch for McFly and his legitimacy to work on the mural.
At one point McFly attempted to walk back to this bag to find his permit, but officers tried to detain him, with one officer putting her hand on his neck.
"They treated me like a felon even though I was commissioned by the city to do this,” said McFly
According to Detroit police spokesperson, Sgt. Nicole Kirkwood, officers believed McFly was uncooperative with their investigation and arrested him for alleged resisting and obstructing police. McFly was also taken into custody on an outstanding traffic warrant, Kirkwood added.
The graphic artist was taken to the nearby Detroit Detention Center where he spent 24 hours in "horrible" conditions until he was released.
"We had to sleep on mats. They didn’t clean any of the cells," said McFly. “It felt like animals in a cage."
The Wayne County Prosecutor's Office will review the resisting and obstruction charges, Kirkwood said.
"The Cops ain’t realize they arrested the best Artist in Detroit. The Head of the Graffiti Task Force investigated me and asked what’s my tag name....I said I don’t do Graffiti I sell paintings," McFly wrote of the incident on Twitter. "I’m a commissioned muralist."
The Cops ain’t realize they arrested the best Artist in Detroit. The Head of the Graffiti Task Force investigated me and asked what’s my tag name....I said I don’t do Graffiti I sell paintings. I’m a commissioned muralist.— Renaissance Man (@sheefymcfly) June 22, 2019
McFly is due in court for the parking traffic ticket warrant on July 3. He says he's unsure whether he will finish the mural for the city.