Mural not graffiti, police say

Lafayette (Ind.) Journal & Courier (11.20.2015)

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JC- (w) Spot mural

Spot mural print PDF

This story started to blow up on Facebook after a police officer handed The Spot Tavern a citation for graffiti. Only the art in question — a hot dog bun with male genitalia — was actually a mural commissioned by The Spot. And the business was pretty unhappy about what had happened.

So what did occur?

Finding out took plenty of phone calls by my colleague and me on the day this broke.

Well-known Lafayette resident Ila Solomon started an online petition to have the mural taken down because it was offensive. Solomon previously had pleaded guilty to failing to report a dead body — her husband had lay dead on the floor in their house for more than nine months, according to a forensic entomologist.

But when I wrote the follow-up the next day — the story linked here — the police chief told me Solomon hadn’t filed the complaint. The officer knew it wasn’t graffiti but thought the citation was the best way to handle the complaint. The city ended up determining the mural wasn’t graffiti and withdrew the citation.

The real story, then, wasn’t about Solomon. It was about how a community and the police handled privately commissioned art that was publicly visible and could be found offensive to some.

As it all ended up, The Spot’s owner had a picture of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence pasted over the offending male genitalia. And the controversy died down after that.