In September, a Michigan State Trooper spotted some graffiti on the State Capitol in Lansing. On the war memorial were the spray-painted words “give art a chance” and the columns at the entrance to the Capitol building bore two crudely-drawn stick figures, one male and one female.
Police arrested Lansing artist Jeffrey Handley, 20. Handley, who goes by the name Geoph Aldora Espen, states on his Facebook profile that he is “an up and coming artist leveraging the scene in sexy and innovative ways.” Authorities apparently did not consider his graffiti to be either sexy or innovative, and charged him with felony malicious destruction of tombs and memorials and two misdemeanors for defacing public property. Handley initially pleaded not guilty to all three counts, but later pleaded guilty to destruction of a memorial or tomb in exchange for prosecutors dropping the two misdemeanor counts.
Handley did not try to hide his involvement in the unwanted art project; on his phone, police found a text that read, “I got the Capitol.” A few days before his sentencing, Handley wrote on his Facebook page, “Sooo. As you all know i tagged the Capitol. I’ve got sentencing next Wednesday morning. Next Wednesday night is the POST-SENTENCING party.”
Handley was sentenced to two years probation and has to pay $3,085 in restitution to the city of Lansing. The young artist did learn from the experience: upon leaving the courtroom, Handley said “if I did it again I would do it in chalk.” The post-sentencing party is still on, according to a status update he posted after court.