You might not see William Barajas or his tag, MAWD around Phoenix streets for a while; Phoenix Judge Sherry K. Stephens sentenced Barajas to two and a half years in prison after he confessed to more than 300 acts of graffiti in Phoenix.
The 20-year-old was caught tagging a light pole last year. His charges include one class 4 felony count of aggravated criminal damage and one class 5 aggregated count of criminal damage.
City representatives and Maricopa County Attorney Bill Montgomery touted Barajas as the Phoenix's "No. 1 Graffiti Vandal," a title many local graffiti writers are confused by because his tag isn't widely recognized in the community and virtually untraceable in any of the local graffiti photo-sharing circles.
Barajas' sentencing comes at a hot time in the national graffiti scene -- big-name artists including SABER and REVOK (who was arrested for graffiti in April) took to writing in the skies while protesting Los Angeles' crackdown on street art. Los Angeles officials have said the issue and crackdown stems from graffiti and tagging, both on city-owned property and on top of legal murals.
This week, two Tempe residents, 22-year-old Thomas Greyeyes, and 20-year-old Elizabeth Miles, were arrested for criminal damage after painting the word "PEAKS" in mud on buildings in Flagstaff. The two claimed their work was part of a school art project, though public art and protest of snowmaking at the Arizona Snowbowl has been on the rise since mid-June.
Barajas' actions weren't political and his charges don't stop with graffiti. According to Phoenix police, he also plead guilty to two of the three burglary counts, for which he was also sentenced to two-and-a-half years in prison (which will be served at the same time as his graffiti sentence) and ordered to pay damages to the locations and entities he tagged.
After Barajas is released, he'll be on supervised probation for three years.
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