Artist Alex Schaefer Arrested For Chalking – LA Weekly – July 2012

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In the wake of his much-publicized arrest for chalking outside downtown LA's Chase Bank on Monday, LA artist Alex Schaefer has revealed details of a lengthy 12 hours spent inside a jail cell at LA's Metropolitan Detention Center Towers.

For the uninitiated “chalking,” refers to an act of civil disobedience recently adopted by the “Occupy LA,” movement as a means of protest. They are adamant they are proving their first amendment right to chalk which usually lends itself to anti- bank/police and establishment messages on various sidewalks.

Alex Schaefer was arrested after a pre mediated chalking act outside Chase branch at 6th & Figueroa in downtown Los Angeles. There he emulated the bank’s logo subverting it instead to read “Crooks,” “Crime,” and “Chaos.”

Upon being discovered by a bank employee and asked if he had a permit, he said no. He was then asked to move and he again refused. Security and subsequently police were called. Alex was taken into custody on a misdemeanor vandalism charge, though the exact brevity of his crime and its resulting classification will be learnt pending a forthcoming court date.

Oddly, despite posting bail at 3 p.m. on Monday via his friend (and bailbondsman) Stephen Zeigler, Schaefer didn't see release from jail till 2 a.m. Tuesday. He then walked ten blocks to his loft on 7th street from the corner of First and Los Angeles Streets.

Even prior to his chalking, Schaefer had given Zeigler bail money early Monday to ensure he was covered in the advent of his potential arrest.

Commenting on the arrest process, Schaefer said, "Its unfair and ridiculous, if you look at the video on my blog, you can see they came and washed it off in a matter of seconds. Still I spent more time in jail than John Corzine has and he stole billions."

Jon Corzine, former New Jersey senator and governor, and former head of Goldman Sachs, is currently under federal and congressional investigation following accusations that the securities firm he headed illegally took clients' funds before collapsing.

Also under investigation by the Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission; Corzine told Congress under oath last year that, while serving as chief executive at MF Global, he knew nothing about clients’ missing funds.

Corzine is also among President Obama's top re-election campaign bundlers, raising at least $500,000, according to the campaign’s filing with the Federal Election Commission.

On his arresting officers, Schaefer seems more philosophical than resentful albeit a bit naïve considering their basic function is to enforce the law. "When I was speaking to the arresting officers we were talking about the economy and they agreed about how bad things are. That begs the question are they cops or Americans first ? They will never protest.

"I wasn't manhandled, but they did treat me like a piece of meat that was simply being processed for arrest. I tried to tell them who I was, i.e., I'm the burning banks artist that received a bunch of press, they weren't too interested. I don't think they knew who I was."

Schaefer said he had to pay $100 bail and as yet has not been informed whether he will receive community service or a fine. This with be revealed with a court date next week.

From Picasso to Susan Crile, many artists historically have used political activism to elevate their own profile, yet Schaefer insists his gesture was more altruistic, focused on political protest over artistic expression. "I hope people are shocked about the situation and my arrest," he says. "I hope it creates a waves of publicity and gets people thinking about the situation -- it's fucked."

Asked whether he will chalk again, Alex waxed angrily, "Part of me feels the need to chalk in front of every big bank, B of A, Citibank all the others." He later added he will speak to his bail bondsman about the potential consequences before proceeding.

In another audacious act, Alex posted a blog of his premeditated chalking act on his personal blog. There he pre empts his sidewalk handywork outside Chase with comments on the importance of chalking as an act of protest.

“Its selective enforcement, and it’s a great form of protest, Americans should be protesting right now everyday, it’s a perfect form of non violent civil disobedience.” Alex can later be seen in confrontation with a bank employee and subsequently cuffed searched and arrested.

Calls to the LAPD for comment saw the Media Relations department refer this reporter to their “Discover,” department, where he was asked to submit a written request for further information.

While some arrest information is available to the public if the arrest was made within the past six months, arrest reports are generally not authorized for release to the public, and can only be obtained with a subpoena or court order when there is a pending civil case. The Discovery Unit of Risk Management Group deems when and how a party can access this information

Video of Schaefer's "Passive disobedience," from the artists’ blog

Written by Craig Stephens

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