There's been a lot of chatter in the L.A. art world about the arrest and subsequent six-month jailing of Revok, whose work appears in the just-opened "Art in the Streets" exhibition at MOCA.
Fellow artists want to know how he ended up with nearly one-third of a million in bail over his head when violent criminals end up seeing much less. There's a sense among some folks that Revok was targeted by authorities specifically because so much attention has been heaped upon the controversial graffiti art exhibit at the Geffen Contemporary downtown.
Is he being made into an example? We talked to the City Attorney's office, which told us exactly how Revok ended up in law enforcement's cross-hairs (after the jump).
Artist Logan Hicks compares Revok's bail amount (actually $300,000, not $320,000, as previously reported) to recent cases involving alleged child molestation ($25,000), rape ($50,000) and sending lewd text messages to a teenager ($50,000).
But, he notes, the 34-year-old artist born Jason Williams is getting the worst of it:
Basically you can sedate and rape a patient, videotape boys in the restroom, molest children, put a bounty on your daughters boyfriend, carry a machete in public, commit a hate crime, rape a female, or leave your baby in a car that is 115 degrees, and none of those are as bad as graffiti in the eyes of the law. All of the above crimes that i mentioned have a bail amount that is a THIRD as much as Revok's.
He thinks the MOCA show has attracted the law: "... I suspect with the MOCA show and the police state that LA has on street art, it's not going to be any better."
Assistant L.A. City Attorney Anne Tremblay told us Revok's legal woes have nothing to do with the exhibition or any possible headline-grabbing crackdowns on the part of City Attorney Carmen Trutanich. It was a coincidence that his case came up during the controversy over art-versus-vandalism.
(Actually, we were told Revok's been living in Detroit, and it appears he was here, at least in part, for the show, so that much might not have helped his case. Tracking him down was up to sheriff's deputies).
In fact, she says, Revok was due in court March 22 on a vandalism case from 2010, when he was famously arrested during his own exhibition at 33third gallery in Mid-City. Authorities tracked him down because they said they spotted his moniker all over town. Here's our account of that arrest.
Following a plea bargain after that arrest, Revok was supposed to check in and show the judge that he had paid $3,764.97 in restitution to victims as ordered under a plea agreement (he pleaded no contest to two counts of vandalism).
He also was supposed to have completed community service with CalTrans. In exchange, he wouldn't get jail time.
But Revok didn't uphold his side of the pact, Tremblay says: He did not pay up, did not schlep at the side of a freeway for CalTrans, and he did not show up for that court date.
And Revok was already on probation from a 2009 vandalism case stemming from some work he did during the Coachella festival in Indio, California.
His alleged lack of compliance with the deal he made in court -- specifically not showing up March 22 -- automatically triggered a warrant for his arrest.
The sheriff's department, as is customary, got the warrant and started looking. It sent in its MTA graffiti enforcement specialists. Deputies found him at LAX last week trying to board a plane to Ireland.
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That, Tremblay says, is what triggered the City Attorney's request for a high bail amount, which she said was $300,000 and not the $320,000 we previously reported.
"He was arrested on a warrant while leaving the United States, getting on a plane," she told us. "That was part of the basis for the court's decision" on bail.
The rest, she says, including 180 days in jail, was in the hands of the judge.