Poster Boy in Jail

Seth and I were really sad to hear this morning that our good friend Poster Boy has been sentenced to 11 months in jail. Things weren’t looking good for him, but it’s just awful to hear that they have come to have this.

Animal New York reported the news here and also commented on the fact that PB missed his court date on May 6th. It seems that if he had been present that day, all of this could have been avoided. I couldn’t think why he wouldn’t have gone so I talked to a mutual friend and the truth is that Poster Boy simply got the date wrong; he thought he was supposed to come in the next day. Unfortunately, now he’s really paying for his simple mistake. As Animal goes on to note, he came in on May 7th to apologize, but it was too late:

Although PB did miss his May 6th court date, he did come in the following day around 2PM on May 7th to apologize, however the court wasn’t hearing any of that and he was taken into custody. He spent the weekend at Rikers and it was this morning that he was sentenced to the 11 months. “It was unwarranted,” says Gotlib, who promised to absolutely appeal the “shocking decision.” He was expected to get 3 years probation, not jail time.

On April 30th, sensing the urgency of his case,  PB sent an email out asking for support from the greater art community.

Here’s an extract:

“A graduate of NYU, Henry is a working artist and activist based in Brooklyn. His most recent participation with the Poster Boy street art movement resulted in legal trouble. Initially, Henry was hit with misdemeanor charges and community service as a result of these activities. However, the district attorney has since tried to pursue Felony Class charges based partially on the false testimony of a transit officer. It is important to note that this is Mr. Matyjewicz’s first offense. Despite these facts, the District Attorney is unwilling to view this case reasonably.

At one point during these proceedings the DA asked for bail to be set at an unprecedented $20,000. This extremely high amount is more in line with bail requests for violent felons accused of dealing drugs or for cases involving weapons.

Perhaps more telling, the DA is attempting to send Mr. Matyjewicz to prison for a year. All of this for the alleged defacement of a few ad posters, a victimless crime, and clearly not a felony.

Fortunately we have recently gained the support of prominent Civil Rights Activist and Best Selling author, David Mixner. David is best known for his important work in anti-war activities and gay rights advocacy. In light of these recent developments, Mr. Matyjewicz has decided to take his case to court and fight these outlandish charges.

Regardless of whether you agree with the views of Mr. Matyjewicz or the Poster Boy movement, we should all be able to agree that this is an assault on the art & culture community.

We respectfully ask for your signature to show your support of Henry and to help keep New York City safe for artists and independent thinkers. Many thanks for your support.”

When I last saw Poster Boy, which was when I was last in New York barely a month ago, he was really excited about the release of his upcoming book and was talking about some of the fun ideas he had to promote it when it came out. The book is mostly composed of work that has never been made public, so if you’re a fan, you’re in for a nice surprise.

The fact that he is in now jail for his art just disgusts me. Think of all the people out there who commit real crimes, yet live their lives unpunished, and compare them to the actions of an artist who was only making the streets and subways look a bit more interesting. This world is really messed up.

We need to do something about this and help get Poster Boy out of here.

–      Elisa

Image via Poster Boy’s flickr.