Streetart in Bogota and how Justin Bieber caused a revolution

There is an estimation of 8000 street artists living in the capital of Colombia (of course nobody knows the exact number) and a huge variety of street art available in that city.
In the case of Bogota, the Colombian capital decriminalized graffiti after protests following the fatal shooting of a teenager at the hands of the police in 2011. On the evening of August 19th, Diego Felipe Becerra, a 16-year-old street artist who called himself Tripido, was painting pictures of Felix the Cat on the walls of an underpass when the police turned up. Tripido ran out of fear of getting arrested and the police shot him dead. What made things worse, was that initially the police invented a story that the boy had robbed a bus, to justify the shooting. When the truth was revealed, the city came out in protest. Roughly 1 year after the shooting of Tripido, Justin Bieber came to town and painted a wall in the city, escorted by policemen for his own safety. The sight of a foreign celebrity being protected by the police as he sprayed the city was too much for the locals. The next day the painting was plastered over by hundreds of artists from the city in plain day.

After these two incidents, the City Hall decided to act to regulate street art, and it is now no longer considered a criminal act but a cultural practice.

As it is often the case in other cities as well, the subjects painted on the walls of Bogotá are almost always political. Women’s rights, Colombia’s violent past, the war on drugs and so on.


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