Young graffiti artist Israel Hernandez-Llach dies in police custody. Miami Florida.
Police in Miami Florida were called to the scene of an abandoned property, where 18 year old graffiti artist Israel Hernandez-Llach was trespassing. When Israel did not comply with the cops orders, he was tazered by one of the officers. Hernandez posed no threat to the officers or other individuals and thus should not have warranted the use of this “non-lethal weapon”. Soon after Hernandez died of cardiac arrest that was caused by the 50,000 volts entering his body. Many questions arise from such a scenario but the primary one would be concerning the probable legality of tazers. It seems that because they are not considered lethal weapons; people (or law enforcement) may use stun guns more freely when they,as officers, are not even in any danger. “Lurch attempted to run past the single officer to escape arrest.”
The second problem lies in the gray area where graffiti belongs in the art world. The huge variance in styles and talent create quite the spectrum of different people who call themselves graffiti artists. Taggers and low skill graffiti artists are the usual suspects who we see simply tagging their nick name or some phrase on the wall. It is done to mark their ‘territory’ like a dog’s marking of a lamp post and almost all the time this is the vandalism that we see on our local businesses or homes. These practices alienate the other graffiti artists or street artists that we see, the ones who invest time and effort into developing an idea then laying it out on a wall or interesting location. Often innovative spray painting styles or stenciling is used alongside an image that has a purpose or message to convey. Some graffiti art is used to commemorate a fallen friend or convey an irony in society. Hernandez seemed to primarily belong to the more developed graffiti artist category, his pieces of work resemble large bright murals with moderate detail. These works could be used for advertisements or as a form of decoration for local businesses if concluded properly but since graffiti artists are usually all categorized by society in the same group, this obviously leads to prejudice, further alienating decent graffiti artists like Hernandez who use abandoned buildings as their canvases consequently being labeled as criminal artists . No one forced Hernandez to break the law by defacing private property, it was his own will.
My points are that the expectations that culture creates for people seem to shape their fate more than people think. Maybe if graffiti art had an understood place in society as advertising or just art most of them would not have to resort to being classified as mere taggers. That the use of a known deadly weapon by law enforcement to secure an arrest for a minimal nuisance violation is an excessively lazy and inhumane policy for the edit… “professional law enforcement”, written on all of the patrol cars of Miami Dade County.
Advocacy For Regional Preservation of Heritage for Economical Stability.
by Wiliiam Coulthard / Edited by Ana Bikic Miami Art Reviews.
A region that relies upon tourism needs an entertainment industry. Historical sites are an integral part of this service orientated economy and the degradation and destruction of cultural interests undermines the formula a region has inherited over the decades and centuries. History is the repeated story that entertains, they are the tourist industry‘s product line and without them a region is no different than any other as a destination.
Although Miami Dade has beaches,National Parks and a pool side party image, most of our visitors are children and the retired if we include resident’s families,snow birds and annual holiday trippers. Their interests are based on more traditional pursuits that require a more intellectual approach to entertainment. Beaches and night clubs, gambling and sports are good for some but to attract an audience appreciation for the arts requires having a strong local history that is more appealing to opera lovers and art collectors, who in turn buy apartments and return each year.
Miami Dade County has an immediate or recent history in comparison to European regions but what interests visitors beyond just the pleasure and joy of visiting is to be entertained, educated and have memorable experiences that can be shared with friends upon returning home. Saving local history plays a vital role when tourists return home, they carry with them the stories behind the places they’ve visited. A region’s history actively stimulates intelligent and curious minds, between natural pleasures of parks and beaches to complete the experience of an exciting and fulfilling trip to their friends. The ancient Romans understood this economic formula providing not just arena entertainment but also galleries of archival history to accompany libraries and monuments. Their tourist cities provided the very best in spas and sports but the most successful cities like Pompey and Pila had preserved and prepared more ancient sites to excite a more affluent and studied clientele.
Miami, Miami Beach and the Miami Dade County, as a whole, must be mindful as it expands to what foot print of the past it wipes away. If an iconic house sitting in full view is the cover picture of an old story related to the region’s past with internationally known cultural references; it follows that the home’s destruction would bring strong negative feed back from previous and possible visitors. If a City is seen not to care about it’s heritage then it is seen not to care about it’s visitor’s experience. So why should they return? or talk well to others? Persuading for a location based on others opinions and published experiences, a reputation by region or location should be seen as a regional and residential responsibility for everyone wishing to live in a successful area and enjoy the benefits that come from an active tourist economy.
The history, architecture and intellectual property of local myths and stories that enrich the visitors experience of our region are vital to the tourism industry as a whole, without them Miami would be boring and predictable. Our local history adds variety to regional destination and encourages opportunities for creating new local attractions. Preservation is therefore a vital part, not an after thought, it is at the heart of our very image and if we are seen to not care what is torn down, our ineptness to protect our own interests will be ridiculed internationally. Currently the Coconut Grove Playhouse and the famous Star Island Mansion are up for destruction.
Now is the time to save them, like Miami did with the Daily News / Freedom Tower 12 years ago. Developers and their investors must realize history has unique and has brand name status and that the stories behind the history are an intellectual property that belongs to all the region’s residents, compromising local stories compromises future potential. Destroying history actually limits future development.