A Detroit street artist was arrested Wednesday while painting a mural commissioned by the city after police stopped him, thinking he was vandalizing property.
"Sheefy Mcfly," whose real name is Tashif Turner, was working on a large, block-long mural as part of the City Walls program to deter graffiti and promote public art when he was approached by police, the Detroit Metro Times reported.
Turner, 29, who had been asked for the permit by police every day that week and showed it, left the paperwork at home that day.
"I told them I'm painting this mural for City Walls, and I got to have it done by Friday," Turner told the Metro Times. "They asked me to put my hands down and everything. I'm like, ‘What's going on?’"
Officers attempted to handcuff Turner, but he tried to pull away for his bag to get his permit not knowing it wasn’t there, the Metro Times reported.
Turner was eventually detained and put into the back of an officer’s car.
Turner asked the officers to call the city official overseeing the art project. They did. They found out that Turner was allowed to be there painting. However, they also learned he had a warrant for a traffic violation from many years ago. So Turner was arrested and spent 24 hours in jail, the Metro Times reported.
A police spokeswoman said that while an officer can use discretion and does not have to detain someone with a warrant, they did nothing wrong. In addition to the warrant violation, Turner was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction.
"The bottom line is he had a permit, but he wasn't able to produce it. His actions resulted in what occurred next," police spokeswoman Holly Lance told the Metro Times. "He was being investigated for a felony. He did not cooperate with officers or have proper documentation."
Turner feels that the incident could have been avoided.
"They just obviously saw me as a graffiti writer and treated me like a criminal. That's what makes me so angry about it because all my life, I never painted illegally at all," Turner told the Metro Times. "So for them to come out and treat me like a criminal, like I shot somebody ... it just had me feeling like I was profiled, you know."
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