Not A Criminal

Feb 29, 2008 by

Just an Artist

(Syndicated from the original posting on Flickr by “Rex” Dingler of NOLARising)

What’s all this hubbub there, mac? You say some graffiti non-artist has a beef with ReX, creator of NoLa Rising? Why would some guy have a problem with messages of hope. Let’s see what the verbiage is here…

Highlights from recent articles in New Orleans City Business:

“Fred Radtke is the Gray Ghost, the self-appointed scourge of the New Orleans graffiti scene.” -City Business {self-appointed scourge…ouch}

And he applies this theory to graffiti with a missionary zeal. To Radtke, graffiti is not just an eyesore, it is a personal offense to himself and the community. He accuses taggers of being anarchists, agitators and members of the church of Satan. {a zealot…wow, much like the people we are fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan who don’t know when to surrender…and WAIT, anarchists, agitators and members of the church of satan??? Are you kidding me? Just because I left the Republican party after fourteen years doesn’t mean I’m an anarchist. And I reckon that Christian fraternity I’m a part of it part of me being a phony (see below). Laughable and sad}

Radtke didn’t deny his war against Dingler is personal and said he will use all of his energy and resources to financially cripple him. He accuses Dingler of being in league with the graffiti artists, saying Dingler intentionally provoked him by hanging signs calling him the “Gray Gangster”. {Admitted to using the police in a personal vendetta…Wants to financially cripple an artist that is already broke (HA!)…Accuses me of violating my right to free association though he doesn’t know who I hang out with because he’s never met me}

“When I asked Officer Joia if he was going to file the same charges against Fred under the graffiti statutes, he said he was unaware of what I was talking about,” Dingler said. “Here’s a guy who is destroying city property, who has become what he said he is fighting against. And yet I’m the one facing all these charges? It’s selective enforcement of the law.” {ABOVE THE LAW? Ask why?}

Radtke dismissed Dingler’s accusations, called him a “loser,” a “phony” and the “biggest pain in the ass I ever met.” {I’ll take loser, phony, and the biggest pain in the ass from this man(?)…but he’s never met me so how would he know}

He said Dingler’s so-called “messages of hope” are “vertical trash” that promote other forms of vandalism. {So very different than the business signs he paints over and leaves hanging}

“I had no idea who he was,” Dingler said. “I thought it was crazy. Who would paint over messages of hope?” {Ask yourself what type of person would do such a thing}

“You have to have a pretty cold heart to do something like that,” Dingler said. {I stand by that statement}

Dingler said he was charged with violations of the law after Radtke became obsessed with him and embarked on a personal vendetta. {Which has been admitted to}

And it doesn’t matter if the signs happen to be hand-painted, “pretty pictures” of rainbows with inspirational slogans. {MORE GREY is better?}

To Radtke it is all vandalism and he is going to “gray” it all out, whether anyone asks him to or not. {ABOVE THE LAW?}

Radtke said taggers he associates with Dingler have thrown acid at him, threatened him with knives and smashed his truck windows. {I associate with no such people}

Dingler points to an online photograph of a bloodied young graffiti artist he claims Radtke attacked. {They are all over the internet along with the story}

“He may think what he’s doing is a corrective measure but it’s unauthorized in many cases and doesn’t correct the graffiti but just camouflages it with another color of paint. That’s the same thing,” said Lary Hesdorffer, Vieux Carre Commission director. “It may be with better intent, but that doesn’t make it right.” {So very plain and accurate}

“But I wouldn’t be surprised if there were some people who, if they knew of an easy path to do so, might take the steps to prosecute Mr. Radtke,” Hesdorffer said. {Start by calling the police and reporting the grey paint as a criminal act of property damage, by the City of New Orleans definitions, what he does is considered graffiti}

Robert Mendoza, New Orleans Public Works Department director, said street signs require a specific reflective surface for night viewing and by painting them gray Radtke is putting the public at risk. Mendoza said Radtke is making the graffiti problem worse by smearing gray paint over an entire sign to cover up a thin, spray-painted signature. But Radtke is unapologetic. He said if the city replaced the vandalized stop signs or coated them with a protective cover, he wouldn’t paint over them. {So, it’s okay to put the public at risk if your a zealot? Or, perhaps you’d like to sell the city a very special paint coating? One that may not have worked in New Orleans East some time ago at a failed press conference that never aired?}

“But what’s the difference between someone who paints their name on a building and Radtke painting big gray boxes over the graffiti? Just because he ‘afford to get rid of it the right way that’s no excuse to do it the wrong way.” {I still stand by that statement}

Radtke said if property owners don’t like what he is doing, they can pay to remove the graffiti themselves or be fined by as much as $500 under a 1998 law that punishes property owners for failure to remove graffiti 30 days after receiving a notice from the city. {His way of helping the business owners eradicate graffiti was to lobby City Hall to increase the penalties for owners who didn’t remove the graffiti…does that include grey graffiti?}

“If people did their jobs, I wouldn’t be involved,” he said. “Right now the only thing we can do to deter graffiti on signs is to cover it up with water-based gray paint.” {Nope, wrong again. Not a deterrent…more of an invitation of a fresh canvas}

But some property owners question what separates Radtke from the vandals he is fighting. {Indeed}

So, feeling harassed by a Loser and a Phony…and yet still all up in arms about someone you think so lowly of…enough to call out the police in a city where the police are already under-staffed and over-tasked? Enough to clog up the court system that has a ten percent conviction rate of murderers? Enough to drive around and collect my artwork as though you are indeed my number one fan?

I think this city has more important problems to be dealing with than the likes of what this one man has decided he can personally use in his vendetta against me because I was willing to put my name on the line to call him out from the shadows and help those in the press question his true motives.

Sure, I’m taking some hits on this one, but the greater hits come at your civil liberties. The battle is bigger than me. New Orleans is a town that has long since used posting flyers as a means of letting people know what is going on. If Fred RAdTke succeeds, every business that posts flyers will then also be opened up to the same kind of harassment that I am suffering from this one man vigilante.

So, keep the peace, fight the good fight and keep on helping NoLA RISE, for we’re in this rebuilding of the city together.



-“Rex” Dingler (via Flickr)