National Parks Art-Crime Spree Ends With Criminal Sentence
It's hard to make a mark on this crowded, busy world, and artists struggle to get noticed. But when your art is leaving marks on protected national park land, you will get attention. You just better be willing to pay a price.
This week, Casey Nocket, 23, pled guilty to seven misdemeanor counts of defacing national park property in a federal court in Fresno, California. She used acrylics and markers to draw on protected rock formations and will do 200 community service hours and spend two years on probation, with restitution to be determined at a later hearing. But that is not all the judge put on Nocket's docket, according to the Denver Post.
Making Her Mark
Nocket defaced land in seven different protected parks, including Yosemite, Zion, Canyonlands, and Rocky Mountain National Park, then she posted her handiwork on social media. The 26-day art-crime spree started, perhaps ominously, in Death Valley, California and took place in September and October of 2014.
The artist got a lot of attention but perhaps not the type she sought, as posts about her park art led to outrage on Reddit and an unofficial internet investigation that then led to an official federal case and criminal charges. The National Parks Service put a positive spin on the outcome in a press release. Charles Cuvelier, Chief of Law Enforcement, Security, and Emergency Services for the NPS, said, "This case illustrates the important role that the public can play in identifying and sharing evidence of illegal behavior in parks."
Sorry Not Sorry
As part of Nocket's plea, she will have to stay off park territory while she is on probation. She was also ordered by US Magistrate Judge Sheila K. Oberto to write a letter of apology to the NPS. As for the restitution hearing, it will likely deal a blow to the young artist's wallet, if not her ego.
Two of the seven parks have yet to be cleaned. Five parks have been cleaned but that process is considered harmful to the environment. The sandblasting and chemical stripping used to remove paint can cause even more damage to irreplaceable natural features than the acrylic and markers used by the artist.
Nocket does not appear to have commented on the plea deal. Maybe she feels she has said enough already with her art. Certainly, she's already made a deeper mark on the culture than many older artists will. So, for better or worse, she got what she wanted.
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