A buddy of mine lives just down the street. We both used to be graffiti artists. A wild graffiti story: I was leaving a loft party the police had broken up, and I did a quick tag on a paddy wagon and the cops saw me. I took off running and they chased me into an empty lot. They knocked me down, kicked me, rolled me over, cuffed me, and threw me in a squad car. [One guy] dragged me out of the car, and he and about eight officers commenced to beat the shit out of me. He was holding my head down by my hair--I just kept seeing the asphalt. Then he smacked my face up against the tag, trying to get me to lick it off. My head and back were all knotted, but there weren't a lot of visible marks--they knew where to hit me. I was charged with criminal damage to property, but they let me off because the state's attorney knew that they'd beat the shit out of me. I thought about suing but I didn't want my mom to know I was still doing graffiti. If there'd been a video camera there I would be a millionaire. For a while I was uneasy around police officers, but this happened several years ago. I'm completely fine being around cops now--there are probably a few here as we speak.
--Peter Renaud, bartender