#FreeTheWater: Detroit Artists Fight Felony Charges and Prison Time

#FreeTheWater: Detroit Artists Fight Felony Charges and Prison Time

While Flint and Detroit officials continue to walk free for their actions, 2 artists face serious charges for an alleged graffiti act.
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On Wednesday July 13th, 2 Detroit artists headed to court to fight felony charges for allegedly painting the words "Free the Water" and a large black fist on the Highland Park water tower in 2015.

Antonio Cosme and William Lucka are facing up to 4 years in prison on charges of malicious destruction of property, totaling at least $45,000, the alleged cost to remove the graffiti.

Antonio Cosme is a 28-year-old farmer and community organizer, active in "raising awareness about political and environmental injustices." William Lucka, 22, is a muralist and an "outspoken opponent of gentrification and emergency management." The two are members of the Raiz Up collective, a Xicano, Latino, Indigenous hip-hop and arts collective rooted in South West Detroit.

After one year of no correspondence, the two received a court summons in early March. Since then, Lucka and Cosme have been in and out of court. Two lower courts passed the case forward, then offered two settlements- one asked them to take the felony charge or spend time in jail.

Instead, the two artists decided to take the case to trial, set for July 13th.

However on Tuesday, July 12th, eight felony charges were filed against Lucka and a warrant was issued for his arrest. Early Thursday morning, Lucka turned himself in. After his arraignment, his bond was set at $3,500. With the aid of funds raised by the community at the Wednesday court hearing, Lucka was released at a $350 bail before the end of the day.

In a video press release, Antonio Cosme said, "The criminalization of artists is part of a larger war on public space. It’s coinciding with a war on public good. And privatization is being implemented on our public schools, on our water, our healthcare."

Because their lawyer was unable to represent them on Wednesday's hearing, another appearance needs to be filed with the court by next Wednesday, July 20th.

I write this article in an act of solidarity with these Detroit artists and for all those whose creative expression is targeted and criminalized.

It astounds me that two young men of color could face such trumped up charges for allegedly painting on a wall, charges that could significantly damage their futures, when in the last couple of years, Michigan has violently failed its communities in regards to safe water access.

In Detroit, government has continued to shut off water access to thousands of poor and working class families. Water is a human right. Being poor and unable to pay a water bill is no reason for a government to decide who has access to this vital resource. Government assistant programs must not be based on debt but instead sustainable methods that will uplift the people from poverty.

An hour north of Detroit is Flint, Michigan. Earlier this year the world took notice when it was revealed that Gov. Rick Snyder, in an effort to save money, decided to switch Flint's water source from Lake Huron to the toxic Flint River, contaminated with a half dozen toxins, including lead. All 9,000 children in Flint, and all adults, have been exposed to this water.

This neglectful act has led to irreversible damage for the people in Flint, much of which is no longer being discussed in mainstream media: the number of cases of Legionnaires Disease has increased tenfold since the switch to the river water; people can no longer sell their homes because their worth has dropped to zero.

As of today, not one member of Flint's government has been charged for their actions, including Gov. Rick Snyder. Of course, excuses are made that a conviction is impossible without valid proof- proof which is difficult to ascertain, they claim. Of course, government is going to protect themselves and their corporate companions.

And yet, when we compare these cases- Detroit shutting off water, Flint poisoning the entire city and two artists accused of tagging on a water tower- I am astonished by the audacity of the Michigan government to so shamelessly expose their injustice system.

It is clear on whose side they stand, but nonetheless, it is also clear on which side the people stand.

Support Antonio Cosme and William Lucka by donating funds for their legal fees.

Let's see to it that their charges are dropped because as they and the great Assata Shakur said, "We have nothing to lose but our chains."

Cover Image Credit: @Lisadet84

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved
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To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

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I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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