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'Hope' Poster Artist Shepard Fairey Faces Arrest in Detroit Over Graffiti

Police say Shepard Fairey tagged buildings across Detroit with graffiti, causing about $9,000 in damage.
Image: Shepard Fairey
Shepard Fairey at an event in May, 2015 in Hollywood, California. Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images

An arrest warrant has been issued in Detroit for the street artist who created the iconic "Hope" poster that represented Barack Obama's 2008 presidential campaign.

Police say Shepard Fairey, 45, tagged buildings across Detroit with graffiti, causing about $9,000 in damage, reported The Detroit Free Press. The warrant, dated Wednesday, was filed on two counts of malicious destruction of property.

Fairey visited Detroit last month to paint a commissioned 18-story mural. He faces felony charges of tagging other properties while he was there.

Police did not immediately return a phone call to NBC News, but told the Free Press that if Fairey goes back to Detroit, he will be arrested if he doesn't turn himself in.

Shepard Fairey poses for a picture with his Barack Obama Hope artwork in the Echo Park area of Los Angeles.Damian Dovarganes / AP

The counts carry a maximum penalty of five years in jail, plus fines that could exceed $10,000, the paper said.

"Just because he is a well-known artist does not take away the fact that he is also a vandal," Detroit Police Sgt. Rebecca McKay, who heads the city's graffiti task force, told the Free Press. "And that's what we consider was done, in these instances, was vandalism."

Fairey did not respond to a media inquiry. A representative told the Free Press he was out of the country. On Wednesday, Fairey tweeted a photo of a mural he had just completed in Spain.

Fairey, a South Carolina native, told The Independent newspaper in the United Kingdom on Thursday that he found the Detroit arrest warrant "hilarious." He has been arrested 17 times over the course of his 20-year career.

“Sometimes when I’ve been arrested I’ve pretended not to be me, but a disciple of me, as it were," he told The Independent. "This is because at some point I realized that some people in the police force, if they realize you’re a bigger fish, then they want a bigger notch on their belt.”