An Interview with Connecticut Graffiti Artist: 9/11 TRUTH WTC7
WeAreChange Connecticut – Steven Boutelle, August 29, 2013
It wasn’t easy locating this particular person but after searching high and low, scouring the alleys and overpasses of CT accompanied with some old fashioned investigating, I was privileged with the opportunity to interview the boldly talented yet elusive, graffiti artist “9/11 Truth WTC7” whose work has been spreading like a apothegmatic wildfire across the highways, overpasses and walls of Connecticut. Once contact was made, declined to go on camera (for anonymity reasons) but agreed to verbally answer most of my questions.
(Originally I was going to write up an article to include within this interview, but in order to not detract from 9/11 TRUTH WTC 7’s message, decided to write it separately. This article can be read here, Art vs Vandalism.)
1) Do you have a pseudonym, handle, name?
9/11 TRUTH WTC7 or 9/11 TRUTH BUILDING SEVEN
Traditionally in hip-hop graffiti someone chooses a name (or is given a name) which they proceed to write everywhere. Once they have written their name enough times, it takes on a life of its own. Uniqueness is valued highly in this sub-culture, so stealing someone else’s name is frowned upon.
9/11 TRUTH WTC7 is similar to a graffiti name, in that it is written everywhere with the intention of creating fame for an identity. However, unlike a graffiti name 9/11 TRUTH WTC7 is not exclusive. Other people have written it, and they should continue to write it as long as they are doing it for the right reasons.
2) How long have you been tagging?
Declined to answer
3) Why did you agree to this interview?
It’s a chance to let people understand more about the philosophies behind the graffiti. Plus WeAreChange is cool. The Hartford Courant wanted an interview too, but they didn’t get one! Hah! If they want a story they can write about the controlled demolition of the WTC and the implications of this – that’s what the important news is.
4) What initially attracted you into researching the events of 9/11?
Hearing people talk about it, and seeing Loose Change. Since then it’s been a steady progression of research and sorting through all the crap and disinformation out there. It’s incredibly sickening to learn that the people we trusted and listened to on 9/11 were the very same people who did it to us. No one wants to admit that they were duped like that and no one wants to deal with the consequences of such cancerous corruption… yet at the same time it can be incredibly empowering to learn and accept the truth. Once you start down this path it becomes difficult to turn back and you feel morally compelled to act on the knowledge.
5) Graffiti has always been a form of dissent. How did you get into it and what made you decide to voice your message through the medium of graffiti?
Graffiti, if done correctly, can take an imaginary word and transform it into a celebrity personality (just look at BANKSY). If a random word that had absolutely no value beforehand can be given so much significance, then graffiti has the potential to bring a whole new level of public interest to an already existing idea like 9/11 Truth. The attitude of graffiti seems appropriate for the message as well.
6) Do you think you’ll branch out into other forms of expression or graffiti (stencils, street installations, stickers, or video projections)?
Declined to answer
7) What does the expressive instrument of art do for you? What do you think it does for others who view your work?
The largest influence on the letter style is making sure it’s legible from a speeding car. The second biggest consideration in designing the letters is the speed and ease of application in difficult and unpredictable situations. So really the core purpose of the letters is not one of inner expression, but of serving a more utilitarian purpose.
Ok, that being said, there’s a lot to be emotional about with 9/11 and allowing that personal emotive expression to come through helps draw people in and encourages them to connect with the idea of 9/11 TRUTH on a more emotional level. And the better the letters look, the more it causes people to pause long enough to admire the techniques used, which again is helping them to consider the idea presented.
8) The word “vandalism” stems from Germanic people who sacked Rome in 455 and its definition is “the ruthless destruction or spoiling of things beautiful or venerable”. Art is defined by dictionary.com as the expression, production, realm or quality, defined by the aesthetic principals, of what is beautiful and appealing or more than ordinary significance, as well as the class of objects subject to aesthetic criteria; works of art collectively as paintings, sculptures or drawings. Some people may label what you do as petty vandalism. How do you define the difference between vandalism & art? Beauty vs. Permission? Do you consider what you do as vandalism? Why or why not?
In a purely legal sense, under Connecticut laws these actions are considered criminal mischief and criminal trespassing. Some of the spots are so expensive to clean that each one could be a felony charge. However, in a moral sense the intent has a lot more to do with it. Vandalism implies the intent to cause someone harm through damaging their possessions. 9/11 TRUTH WTC7 is always written for peace and with love. People pick up on that and it has a big influence on how they perceive the message. To get respect you must show respect.
9) What is your goal and the end result of this rebellious campaign?
The specific goal at the beginning was always to raise public awareness to the point where the local news would feel compelled to cover it and explain what it means when people see “9/11 TRUTH! BUILIDING SEVEN?” all over the place. This has happened twice now, but was no small task! News stations generally avoid talking about 9/11 Truth (for fear of legitimizing it as an issue) and they avoid talking about graffiti artists (for fear of giving them even more fame). Getting them to talk about both of these topics at once required risking my life painting fill-ins over moving traffic. The end result is unknown to me because it is up to other people, and whether or not they step up to the plate and do their own part.
10) CBS 3 reports you’re putting your, as well as others lives at risk, Do you feel that you’re putting your life, and other lives, at risk to inform others of WTC 7?
I do not think I pose any lethal risks to people below – at worst they might get a dent in their bumper or something, barring some freak accident which could happen at any time anyways. However, I definately feel that my own life has been at risk. Like I say below, there’s no repelling gear or safety harnesses being used, this is the real deal. More than one graffiti writer has died hitting this type of spot, giving them the nickname of “Heaven Spots”. But I would rather die fighting for something I fully believe in, than to live a lie and do nothing.
11) Are you using any repelling gear to access the areas in which you’ve painted (as reported by CBS 3)?
Hahaha… No, there is no repelling equipment or safety harnesses being used, but I sure had a good laugh when I heard the DOT guy say that! Nope, the only equipment needed to hit a bridge i-beam is a few choice spraycans, the right nozzles, and a giant pair of balls.
12) Arrest may be an inevitable outcome for what you do, have these thoughts ever crossed your mind? Do you have a contingency plan in place if this unfortunate situation occurs?
Sure, the possibility of arrest has been given due consideration, but it’s definitely far from inevitable! My plan revolves around taking reasonable steps to avoid getting caught, and not talking to the cops without a lawyer if I do get caught. I’ve been stopped by the cops while I’ve been out writing 9/11 TRUTH WTC7 but they didn’t see me do anything and I know my rights so it wasn’t really a problem. I just asked them if I was free to go and they let me go. Turns out they were actually looking for someone else that night, but if I had let them look in my bag or if I had let them intimidate me into saying something self-incriminating, I would have been in cuffs. The best chance they have of arresting me is to catch me in the act, which means a cop would have to be driving by at just the right time and see the graffiti in progress and then stop and get out and get to the spot before I can leave. Some spots have better escape routes than others – a lot of it comes down to careful planning and scouting the spots out beforehand, and the rest of it is left up to chance. If I do get arrested, it won’t be the end of the world and I’ll deal with the consequences. Plus, an arrest at this point would mean an exponential growth in media coverage, so there’s really no way to lose! This is for the cause! It’s bigger than just me.
13) If you do get arrested, do you think it would be enough to stop you?
No, but I might stop anyways haha. No for real, it’s really tiring and stressful sometimes but it’s always worth it when I’m done.
14) Is 9/11 the only topic you focus on? Will you start changing your message to topics like GMO’s, vaccines, occupation of other countries, police state issues, NSA warrantless wiretapping, drones… etc?
Yeah, 9/11 Truth is it because it’s the most important. Also it’s a good choice for a campaign like this because it’s incredibly obvious that a horrific crime occurred on 9/11 – the same cannot be said of vaccines for example, which can often help people. And none of those other issues can really be resolved unless the truth about 9/11 is revealed, because it takes learning about 9/11 to glimpse the forces behind those other issues. Also, repetition is the name of the game with traditional hip-hop graffiti and is a large part of how graffiti’s power is brought into realization.
15) What do you get out of doing this? Especially if you are putting your life at risk and may eventually be arrested. With all the personal risk involved, why do you do what you do?
I don’t get anything out of this except the personal satisfaction of knowing I have done my part. I’m not making any money, and I’m not seeking any personal fame even amongst my peers. But I do sleep very well at night.
I do it because the 9/11 Truth movement was losing momentum and it’s too important to just let it slip through the cracks like that.
16) CBS 3 & Fox 61 also reported that it’s costing the state anywhere around $500,000 to $1,000,000 to cover up CT’s graffiti. Do you have any comments regarding this or suggestions to help alleviate these costs?
I’m flattered that the cost of cleanup is the worst complaint they can come up with about the 9/11 TRUTH WTC7 graffiti. And if the costs get so high that it starts getting the attention of policy makers, well then policy makers are going to be thinking about 9/11 Truth and Building 7!
17) Do you think your message would be as effective and have as much of an impact if it was expressed and exhibited in another form?
Absolutely not! I don’t know of any other way to effectively reach this many people without a prohibitively large budget.
Beyond that, the risk involved is a huge part of why the message has been so successful in reaching so many people. People are bombarded with messages all day long. Do this, do that, buy this, buy that, you’re fat, you’re ugly, you’re a loser, you’re scared, on and on. So (for good reason) people have become very good at ignoring messages and very distrustful of the motives behind the messages. But when they see a message that’s not about making a profit and was risky to do, they are more likely to pause and wonder – why is that message so important to get out that someone would risk so much for it?
9/11 was planned and executed by people in high positions of power in our country, as a way to secure even more power over the people. But every time 9/11 TRUTH WTC7 graffiti appears, it is evidence that these criminals are not in control because they couldn’t stop it from happening even though it’s illegal! This lends a power to the graffiti that could never be achieved through legal means.
18) The US Department of Justice has grouped graffiti into 4 categories, Gang, Tagger, Conventional, and Ideological such as political and hate graffiti. Do you think that any political views, especially that which go against the rest of mainstream society, should be slandered and associated with hateful ideology such as white supremacy and anti-Semitic views? Do you feel that this was done on purpose to vilify messages that go against the grain?
I feel that all types of graffiti are purposefully vilified to prevent the masses from realizing graffiti’s power to create culture and transform society. The people in charge know all about this, but they want their messages to be the only ones we see. Advertisements are graffiti. Those bullshit “If You See SOMETHING” billboards are all over the place reminding you to distrust your fellow human beings, and instead place all your trust in the same criminals that killed all those people on 9/11 and lied about it!
19) It’s rumored that some of the folks inside the CT DOT have targeted you as public enemy number one for the numerous amounts of areas covered and arduous, hard-to-reach locations that your message is displayed. How does it feel to have attracted the attention of Fox News, CBS and the CT DOT (and most likely CT State Police)?
Haha well I don’t think they really hate me over there at the DOT. Some DOT guy was interviewed on WNPR about the graffiti and made a genuinely loving comment:
“I cannot believe how this person or persons are getting to these locations…But I tell you something right now. He’s risking his life…I will say that this person is special, and I’d like to see him stop, really. Because he is, he’s good at what he does, if there is such a thing as being good at that.”
Beyond that, it’s great to have generated so much news about 9/11 Truth! And if the police have started an investigation… well that means that I forced the local police to investigate 9/11 Truth and WTC Building Seven! Jackpot!!
20) What other artists and activists have inspired you?
All the writers bombing the highways out here inspire me to keep going hard. The letters were influenced in various ways by RLAX, KWOTE, WATCH, FIB, DART, and KUMA. Also JA, PK KID, SABER, REVOK, GUFE, and a bunch of other writers from all over the world were inspirations to hit crazier spots. JESUS SAVES showed that a message could be tagged in place of a name. And of course big ups to the writers in Germany who are doing pieces that say things like REVOLUTION and INSIDE JOB.
(WeAreChange) sparked the initial inspiration for 9/11 TRUTH WTC7 graffiti. This was mostly because of (their) use of Ghandi’s phrase “Be the change you want to see in the world”. I wanted to see more 9/11 TRUTH graffiti around, and no one else was doing it, so I became that change. This led to studying more of Ghandi’s philosophies, such as satyagraha, which helped guide the graffiti in a positive direction. Satyagraha is a word that Ghandi coined which translates as “truth force”. Also the professionals of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 Truth were inspiring in the way that they lend so much credibility to the movement.
21) What’s the craziest situation that you have gotten into while out tagging?
I was standing on an i-beam in the very middle of a 5 lane wide interstate with nothing to hang onto, painting a large fill-in. A semi-truck, carrying something heavy enough to shake the bridge, drove directly underneath me and blasted his horn for what seemed like a couple seconds (I’m guessing because he saw me up there). I saw him coming up the road but wasn’t expecting the horn, so it made me jump a little and then I looked down and watched the roof of the trailer disappear under my feet and I just instinctively let out this wild howl that kinda harmonized with the horn. It was a totally primal moment.
22) 9/11 Truthers and activists around CT, as well as other locations, give you much love and respect for what you’ve done, do you have any words for the fans of your art campaign?
Thanks for the props! Believe in yourself and absolutely anything is possible! It sounds like a corny cliché but it’s true.
For people in Connecticut – Now that you know, it’s time to step up and let’s push this thing over the edge!
For people in other locations – Why isn’t the controlled demolition of Building 7 and the Twin Towers being talked about on your local news yet?