Community Post

The Corner Update: SPD says they just passed along request

We’ve been working to get an update on removal of the art installation at 23rd & Union, which was first reported here by project organizer Jenny Arsarnow earlier in the week.

The artwork was completely removed by Tuesday morning, leaving only a brown empty lot surrounded by chainlink fences. But the questions and comments from the community have continued to grow in the original story.

According to Sean Whitcomb, spokesperson at SPD, an East Precinct officer heard concerns from numerous citizens about a single photo in the art installation, taking issue with the alleged criminal activity of the person portrayed there. The complaints centered around only the presence of that one photo, and not the installation as a whole.

That officer sent emails to the organizers of The Corner project and property owner Jim Mueller, relaying those citizen concerns. According to Whitcomb “this was not a police issue. Not police related at all. It was a uniformed officer who is a very visible form of government, who was asked ‘can you do anything about this? Can you pass this along?'”

Due to personal information contained in the emails, SPD couldn’t release the full thread of communication on the subject outside of a formal Public Disclosure Request, which can take weeks. However, Whitcomb quoted one line of the opening email which read:

They are asking me to ask you to please take down his picture. They don’t consider him their protector, but instead one of the problems.

Although many may know which person and photo was the subject of the controversy, we don’t think it’s fair to name him specifically regarding anonymous reports, and we ask that commenters refrain from doing so either.

We also asked SPD for comment on allegations that the officer contacted Mueller’s lenders when action wasn’t quickly taken on the request. Whitcomb said he has asked for confirmation on that from East Precinct Captain Jim Dermody, but has not yet heard back.

We’ve left calls with both Mueller and Asarnow today and are waiting to hear back on their side of the story, including a report from a reader that the project organizers are considering legal action against the city.

SPD’s Whitcomb stressed that they appreciated the role that the artists and their work did in the community, saying “we’ve got a lot of respect for Jenny Asarnow, and for the work she’s done in that community and appreciate the time she took to make that project a reality.”

0 thoughts on “The Corner Update: SPD says they just passed along request

  1. Scott, as always you are quick to update the community with the facts. I do not understand a couple of issues. First, according to Whitcomb, “this was not a police issue, not police related at all.” However, the VERY NEXT SENTENCE states that it was a uniformed officer (uniformed implies that it IS a police issue. Secondly, when did the uniformed officer become a very visible form of government? One can cite man examples of how democracy and police must exist along side of one and another, but this uniformed officer has overstepped his bounds. Having been an govt employee in many levels, (state, fed, and county) i know that there is a public affairs officer that represents and speaks for the particular agency. This unnamed uniformed officer is NOT serving in that role. Yes, i support some dialogue in maybe changing the picture, since the photo in question may have some issues. However, this was NOT handled in the right way, in my opinion. I thank you again Scott for shedding more light on this. I will continue to see where this goes. Thank you for your accurate and timely reporting. Keep up a great job. Gia

  2. KUOW (who Asarnow works for) did a report this afternoon. It sounds like there was another email from SPD saying something along the lines of “It’s still up. When is it coming down?”.

    There are plenty of ways for a community member who has a complaint like this to communicate with the artist (or property owner) without involving SPD.

    The officer’s request came across as more that ‘passing along a comment from the community’. Perhaps they didn’t mean it that way, but that’s how it came across. As a near by property owner, I’m really sad to see The Corner go away.

  3. i agree that we have great access to public records, the only thing is that it can take a long time to get what you requested…..i also agree that there are many other ways to communicate without SPD….i find it a bit hard to believe that this “request” was so promptly honored when i have read many times (on this site as well as others) that calls to the police when drug deals are being witnessed or calls for some car break ins are largely answered in slow time….

  4. White people: please stop being afraid of black people. It’s played out.

  5. That’s a tad racist, but ok, I will stop being afraid of black people only because you say it’s ‘played out’.

  6. How do I file a complaint with the city about the troubling empty lot at 23rd and Union. Will the police talk to the property owner and ask the building to be built already?