E-mail to Denise James, Project Manager of Clean and Green from a Local Resident
I would like to express my anger and disappointment at the news of Chris Chalkley being found guilty of criminal damage regarding the sign he painted onto the 5102 building.
As a resident of four years in this area I have come to love my community and all the effort people put into building and nurturing it, including the fantastic street art which the area is increasingly becoming renowned for. Conversely, I have become frustrated with the destructive tagging and mindless vandalism that is entirely unhelpful to the area. Almost every day I see new unsightly tags which surely increase the perception of deprivation of the area and, in turn, the actual deprivation, yet in four years I have only heard of one tagger being prosecuted and tagging continues to grow and thrive.
Consequently, to see one of the few people who really cares about, and loves, the community and area he lives in be prosecuted not for pushing his own selfish personal agenda but for genuinely and honestly trying to help and promote the area he lives in (and let’s be honest Stokes Croft needs as much help as it can get), I feel let down by yourself, the council and the police.
I appreciate that criminal damage is unacceptable and that the police have a duty and responsibility to take action whenever a crime is committed and that there is no excuse, in any normal situation, for criminal activity. But Stokes Croft, what is happening to Stokes Croft and the vision that groups based in Stokes Croft have is anything but normal. Stokes Croft, like so many other areas, is in desperate need of regeneration and thus in need of good honest people who care about said areas and who are willing to put time, effort and money into realising these visions of regeneration. This regeneration is by no means impossible, but it is also, as I’m sure you know, by no means easy. To have someone like Chris in the area who is dedicating his life to this vision is remarkable enough in itself, but to then see him persecuted for doing his honest best for the area, and having only the well being of Stokes Croft in mind, is mind blowing. You of all people should be behind Chris in all the he does! He has single-handedly done more for the area than anyone else in recent times and any hindrance to his work is undoubtedly a hindrance to the community as a whole.
I hope that you will take my view into consideration now and in the future, as I’m sure it is held by many others in the area. I am not an artist myself, nor an anarchist, but I firmly believe that Chris’s actions, whilst maybe in a legal grey area, were entirely positive and beneficial to the area. In no way whatsoever did they warrant him paying £950; I trust that any of this which the council might see will dutifully be paid back towards something beneficial for Stokes Croft.