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Artist avoids jail for 'negro slave taunt'

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Artist avoids jail for 'negro slave taunt'
07:58 CET+01:00
Malmö street artist Dan Park was handed a fine and a suspended sentence after being convicted on Thursday of defamation and racial agitation in connection with posters he made after students staged a "slave auction" at Lund University.

Park created and distributed posters with a picture of Jallow Momodou of the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) superimposed on the image of a naked man in chains.

"Our negro slave has run away," read the text on the posters.

The controversial artist singled out Momodou for having reported a "jungle party" thrown by the Halland Nation student group during which three people with blackened faces and ropes around their necks were led into the party by a "slave trader" and later sold.

Park's posters were distributed around Lund and also included Momodou's name and contact details.

Momodou claimed the posters were racist and offensive, while Park argued that the purpose of the posters was to highlight the issue of free speech.

"I want to make fun of the fact that people get upset about something like this," he told the Lund University's student newspaper, Lundagård, in April.

At the time of his arrest in October, Park told The Local that he thought the prosecutors were overreacting.

”Was I surprised to be charged? Yes and no. I think it is a waste of tax payers' money mainly. It wasn't a big deal. And no one should be able to tell me what kind of art I can create, ” he said.

”We all have different tastes and people often get upset, but that is what art is about - creating reaction."

However, the court ruled that Parks must have been aware of the fact that, in the context of the "slave auction" controversy, his posters singled out Momodou as a "runaway negro slave" and gave the impression that Halland Nation head Elinor Lavesson was the person who posted the flyers.

As a result, the court reasoned, Park must have realized that the posters would result in both Momodou and Lavesson being disparaged by others, making Parks guilty of defamation.

In convicting Parks of racial agitation, the court found that the artist's freedom of expression claims didn't hold up as the posters were needlessly insulting and an attack on the rights of dark skinned people.

In delivering the guilty verdict, the court handed Parks a suspended sentence, fined him 6,000 kronor ($890) and ordered him to pay 10,000 kronor in damages to both Lavesson and Momodou.

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