Photo by Bill Parry
By Bill Parry

The artists from 5Pointz were back in Brooklyn federal court Wednesday as hearings got under way into the stature of the artwork that covers the graffiti warehouse complex.

Judge Frederic Block is holding the hearings to decide whether the art is transitory or permanent and a decision could be announced as early as next week. The group’s curator, Jonathan Cohen, known as Meres One, testified in court along with two other artists Wednesday and the building’s owner Jerry Wolkoff was expected to testify by the end of the week.

Cohen said that several strange things had happened lately. Two weeks ago the artists were stunned to see construction workers at the 5Pointz site. Demolition preparation is strictly prohibited by the judge, who issued a temporary restraining order in an effort to get both the artists and the developer to the negotiatiing table.

Then his office at 5Pointz was broken into. A drill was stolen, but thousands of dollars of video equipment went untouched.

“Somebody messed with my files,” said Cohen, “I think they’re trying to send me a message.” Cohen would get another message later that week.

On Halloween, Banksy hung large block balloons that spelled out his name on a vacant building at 35th Street and Borden Avenue, overlooking the Long Island Expressway. Then he bid farewell to his New York fans in a message on his website that read, “It’s been fun. Save 5Pointz. Bye.” It was a tip of the hat to the embattled graffiti artists in the 5Pointz complex several blocks away, at 22-44 Jackson Ave., and it answered a challenge that Cohen had made.

Speaking to the London-based Guardian newspaper last month, Cohen tried to enlist Banksy’s help in the ongoing legal battle to save the aerosol arts mecca from demolition.

“We’re not asking you to give us money, but your words could help,” he said. “Why don’t you put a comment out?”

After reading Banksy’s farewell post on Halloween, Cohen said, “It’s good that he made a public statement about us. Maybe some of these media outlets that have been covering him all month will pay attention to our battle trying to save 5Pointz.”

Cohen said he knew that Banksy was paying attention but he had hoped for a stronger show of support.

“I understand his need for mystery to feed the press,” he said. “I blame the media for treating him as the Robin Hood of graffiti instead of covering legal graffiti artists trying to save the largest legal collection of graffiti in the world. Meanwhile, you can’t find a paper that’s not covering him.”

Especially on Halloween when Banksy hung those balloons.

Police from the 108th Precinct responded when two people climbed a ladder and removed the balloons. Four people were taken into custody, three were later charged with trespassing and the fourth received a summons for disorderly conduct according to the NYPD. Officers confiscated the balloons to be impounded as “arrest evidence” according to the New York Times.Among several late arriving fans was Harlem’s Rory Porta who said, “You mean the NYPD finally got a piece of him on his final day?”

Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4538.

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