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Fury at poster campaign bid to free graffiti artist


An illegal fly-poster on the wall of the former Burger King on the corner of Sauchiehall Street and Renfield Street calls for graffiti artist Gary Shields to be released from jail

by Ross McKinnon

 

A CAMPAIGN to free from prison a notorious Glasgow graffiti artist who caused £270,000 damage has been slammed by council bosses.

Gary Shields - whose tag' name is Daze - was jailed for 28 months on March 20 after going on a spraying spree on trains and railway stations.

However, the 21-year-old, from Crookston, has gained sympathisers among the underground music and graffiti scene in Glasgow and now illegal fly-posters have sprung up in the city centre backing the Free Daze!' campaign.

The moves have sparked a furious response from Glasgow City Council.

Councillor James Coleman, deputy leader of the council, said there would be zero tolerance of those responsible for the fly-posting.He said: "I'm glad this has been brought to our attention and we will be dealing with it as a matter of urgency."We will be trying to identify the people responsible - and hopefully they'll be locked up like Gary Shields.

"Graffiti destroys the environment we're trying to create of a clean Glasgow. It just goes to show you the mentality of these people who have no respect for the city."

Mr Coleman has instructed staff from the council-owned Glasgow Community and Safety Services, the body responsible for policing graffiti and fly-posting, to catch the people putting up the posters.

Shields, part of a gang nicknamed Eazy Riders, was sentenced at Ayr Sheriff Court and is in Barlinnie but could be set to move to Castle Huntly open prison in Angus.

His supporters are demanding Shields be freed and his solicitor, Matthew Berlow, has lodged an appeal against the length of sentence.

Petitions have sprung up on social networking website MySpace with Glasgow hip-hop musician "Eastborn" encouraging people to add to his 200 online signatures.

On a MySpace website, Eastborn says: "Even if it was an act of vandalism then what's wrong with community service where Daze could be made to work with the youths on Youth Art projects?"

When we spoke to him, Eastborn, 32, who wouldn't give his real name, said: "There are many people out there supporting the Free Daze campaign because they realise the insanity of the two-year sentence - a paedophile would get less."

A spokesman for the British Transport Police, which helped hunt Shields, said: "Graffiti is nothing other than vandalism and those indulging in this sort of criminality are putting themselves in danger as well as endangering rail staff and passengers."

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Should grafitti artists be jailed for their activities?

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