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E-mail to Denise James, Project Manager of Clean and Green from a Local Resident

March 15, 2010

Dear Denise,

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.

Yours faithfully,

Ralph Mundy

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.

Yours faithfully,

Ralph Mundy

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. Caroline permalink
    March 15, 2010 11:19 pm

    Here here. I wholeheartedly agree and I couldn’t have said it better myself. As a long-term resident of Stoke’s Croft, I have seen first hand, and personally had a small hand-in helping, with the fantastic street art and general rejuvenation of Stoke’s Croft.
    I truly believed Chris would get acquitted and the ‘criminal damage’ at 5102 would be seen for what it was – a continuation of the ‘beauty from ashes’ philosophy and executed, as he says, with love and care. The sign would have been an asset to the building, as it was situated at the gateway to Stoke’s Croft and did not look out of place at all. In fact it added a semblance of beauty to an otherwise dreary building.
    It was not graffiti, it was a sign, for f***s sake. A sign of the times…sigh..
    The only criminal damage here is that done to Chris, but I know it will not stop him. All support for Chris Chalkley – that man is a saint!
    I for one will be popping a donation towards his court costs through the PRSC letter-box – I sincerely hope others will feel so inclined.

  2. Richard Craven permalink
    March 16, 2010 7:15 am

    He did something to someone else’s private property without asking permission. He fell foul of the law, because the law protects persons from unwarranted interference with their private property. The court case against him was a fine example of the proper functioning of the law.

  3. harryT permalink
    March 16, 2010 9:47 am

    Richard Craven. Do you also want all the Banksy’s painted over as well? Or are you a hypocrite like the council?

    By the way, reading the message boards here and elsewhere, looks like you are the minority (despite your disproportionately large number of posts)

  4. Rachael permalink
    March 16, 2010 12:35 pm

    He painted on a building without permission… to be honest, while I am disappointed with the court for the harshness of the high fine, and I am more disappointed with Chris…

    I enjoy checking out new bits of street art in Stokes Croft, and I think it is doing a lot for the area… I have been in support of PRSC since it’s beginnings as it seemed a positive group action keeping as much to the law as it can… not random tagging or other rubbish…

    If all he needed to do was ask permission, why didn’t he?

    Sadly, he’s blackened the image of the PRSC in my eyes.

  5. Caroline permalink
    March 16, 2010 9:49 pm

    Since when has following the letter of the law ever been logical or always right? Some of the worst miscarriages of justice have been carried out by sticking to the letter of the law – the law is black or white – life isn’t. I much prefer the shade….the PRSC works there too.

    Permission? Does one have to ask for permission to do a good deed for someone?

    Would you really head straight to the Police if you woke up to a nicely painted sign or a lovely mural outside your house? It’s a rhetorical question, but that’s all this is really about.

    • Rachael permalink
      March 17, 2010 12:14 am

      However, again… why didn’t he just ask permission? There’s already a good deal of support for PRSC in the area, so why not choose to continue building it?

      It’s all very nice having good intentions, but it’s like redecorating someone’s front room and then getting upset when they tell you that they don’t like orange after all…

      Yeah, ok, you can say the law doesn’t always support the best… but a sign isn’t excatly going to set the world alight either…

      Don’t get me wrong – I liked the sign. but imposing a sign on residents of a building without asking isn’t too far different from imposing an ugly building on a community without proper consultation…

      • stokescroft permalink*
        March 21, 2010 12:11 am

        Rachael, I have admitted that i may have overstepped the mark on this one. However, I have no regrets. Immediately after I saw that the sign was painted out, I attempted to contact Peverel, and left my card, having recognised that I may have caused offence to the owners of the building. I would have happily resolved the issue out of court. The residents have no say on the exterior of the building, but are charged for its upkeep… I had an e-mail from a resident reporting his embarrassment that the management were behaving in this way in his name…

        The change that we have been trying to effect has necessitated a certain amount of pushiness… So much of what has been achieved has been in the face of possible prosecution…

        I am sorry if my actions have weakened your support.

        Chris Chalkley

  6. Richard Craven permalink
    June 28, 2010 12:42 am

    @harry t

    “Richard Craven. Do you also want all the Banksy’s painted over as well? Or are you a hypocrite like the council?”

    On the common understanding, a hypocrite is someone who does something which they profess to believe should not be done, or who does not do something which they profess to believe should be done. In the context, I would be a hypocrite if I was a graffiti artist who professed the belief that people should not do graffiti. However, I am not a graffiti artist. I simply think that Chalkley should ask permission from property owners before interfering with their property. I may be a number of things, Harry, but I don’t think I am a hypocrite.

    “By the way, reading the message boards here and elsewhere, looks like you are the minority (despite your disproportionately large number of posts)”

    Perhaps. But so what?

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