Man arrested for painting messages on public property | News

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Man arrested for painting messages on public property

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Driving through San Marco, you likely have seen graffiti on several traffic control utility boxes. On Tuesday afternoon, the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office arrested Kevin "Chip" Southworth in connection with that graffiti.

First Coast News spoke to Southworth in January about the images appearing on the traffic control boxes, but at the time Southworth just called himself "Keith Haring's Ghost."

He told FCN's Heather Crawford the graffiti had a pretty clear meaning.

"It's peace, love, equal right for human beings and that's what this city is rallying behind. One, the city wants equal rights but the city also wants street art so this was to start a conversation," he said.

He went on to say his artwork is not malicious; he just wanted to help beautify the city.

JSO said in a Facebook posting that several articles of evidence were recovered during a search warrant, such as the clothing he was wearing during a media interview and pictures from his cell phone.

The City of Jacksonville estimates the damage to the traffic control utility boxes to be around $1,100. Southworth was released from the Duval County Jail Tuesday night on bond.

Southworth's lawyer, John Phillips, released this statement on Southworth's behalf:

"Chip Southworth is a lifelong resident of Jacksonville. He is a veteran of the US Navy Presidential Guard and has always been very active in our community. He has worked with the Chamber, the City Council and the Cultural Council regarding his art. Some of his art is currently hanging in the Cummer Museum and he was recently commissioned by the City of Jacksonville to paint a portrait. His arrest and Jacksonville Sheriff's Office's further "social media campaign," including trying the case in social media and posting his mugshot, is irresponsible, if not unjust.

"This matter will be handled in a court of law. The family's focus is on clearing his name and helping his wife through her ongoing treatment for breast cancer. We appreciate all of the kind words of support."


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