Bieber´s graffiti binge sparks Bogotá street ´revolution´

Justin Bieber´s spray-painting exploits continue to reverberate through the streets of Bogotá.

English: Street art, Wall mural, Graffiti in B...

Bogotá, has a vibrant graffiti culture, but one that is permeated with violent attacks against artists. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hundreds of Colombian graffiti artists took to the city streets Friday – paint and political messages in hand – to protest the injustice that saw police protect the privileged Canadian rock star while he painted his personal messages after a rock  concert last week.

They said they were not willing to accept a situation where privileged foreigners receive protection to paint graffiti while Colombian youths are attacked and sometimes killed.

Colombian graffiti artists face violence and sometimes execution by members of the same police force who protected the graffiti-painting Bieber.

“They didn´t kill Bieber, so they cannot kill us either,” one artist told national newspaper El Espectador.

Debate has raged over the inappropriateness of Bogotá police protecting Bieber while he painted graffiti in a tunnel. Some 300 graffiti artists worked in plain daylight on Friday, without masks hiding their identities as is common among Colombian graffiti painters.

They told reporters that Bieber let the genie out of the bottle and touched off a revolution in the streets.

Diego Felipe Becerra was shot in the back by Bogotá police in August 2011 for painting graffiti in a Bogotá street.

Diego Felipe Becerra was shot in the back by Bogotá police in August 2011 for painting graffiti in a Bogotá street.

“The battle is not against Justin, nor against the police, what is happening is an opportunity to remove the stigma of vandals and criminals from the graffiti artists,” one participant explained to a reporter.

A campaign with messages on Facebook and Twitter urged graffiti artists to take to the streets, in a public painting demonstration from 6 a.m. Saturday until 6 a.m. Sunday. But many jumped the gun and began painting Bogotá walls when the alert went out Friday.

“Help us the way you did Bieber,” one artist told police who responded to the protest.

Others solemnly remembered the tragic execution of Diego Felipe Becerra, the 16 year-old fatally shot in the back by police at close range in August 2012.

Becerra´s father expressed support for the protest.

“My son was one of you, his death was very painful, but if the result of his tragedy is to make society more tolerant and recognize graffiti as an art form, then he will be happy in heaven,¨ said Becerra´s father.


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About Connecting Colombias

Recently retired newspaper reporter with one foot in British Columbia, Canada, the other in Colombia, South America. Fascinated with Colombian culture, Canadian connections, and heroic efforts to return millions of displaced Colombians to lands stolen by paramilitaries, guerrillas and organized crime.

2 responses to “Bieber´s graffiti binge sparks Bogotá street ´revolution´”

  1. colombiadiaries says :

    Your article highlights well the bleak contrast between how a privileged foreign celebrity and anonymous homegrown talent are treated. It is heartening to read that this was ultimately a source of inspiration to draw attention to this unequal treatment, and to police brutality and the absence of proportionality in their actions. Both the protests and your article continue to keep the memory of Diego Felipe Becerra alive.

    • Connection Colombia says :

      What a kind comment. I think it is important that people understand the exaggerated privilege foreigners, especially celebrities, sometimes receive and the sharp contrast with the lives of too many Colombians. Bettter that we contribute to equality.

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