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LUND SLAVE AUCTION FALLOUT

FREE SPEECH

Artist avoids jail for ‘negro slave taunt’

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.

Artist avoids jail for 'negro slave taunt'

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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CHARLIE HEBDO

Swedish street artist reported to Danish police

UPDATED: After Danish police determined that there were no grounds to charge controversial Swedish street artist Dan Park, he will get off with a fine for his flyers comparing refugees to terrorists.

Swedish street artist reported to Danish police
Dan Park posing with some of his controversial works in Copenhagen last October. Photo: Submitted
Malmö-based artist Dan Park was reported to the police after a recent visit to the Jutland town of Silkeborg. 
 
Park and a team of supporters posted flyers featuring a refugee family portrayed as terrorists. The flyers, which were also distributed to private post boxes, were a recreation of the ‘Refugees Welcome’ logo. 
 
Instead of depicting a fleeing family holding hands and running, Park’s version shows the family members clutching weapons and dragging a child who is wearing a suicide belt. The flyers read “Terrorist Welcome – bring your weapons.”
 
Image: Dan Park
Image: Dan Park
 
The flyers were reported to the local police in Silkeborg, who after legal consideration said there were no grounds to charge the artist or his supporters with making threats or inciting terror. Instead, those involved with displaying and distributing the image will each be fined 1,000 Danish kroner. 
 
“The three people who were part of the distribution will be charged with hanging the posters on, among other things, electrical boxes. That is not legal. On top of that, they received an admonition that they think twice before doing something like that again,” police spokesman Flemming Just told MidtJyllands Avis, adding that the posters had been displayed in other Danish towns as well. 
 
Michala Bendixen, the chairwoman of Refugees Welcome Denmark, told The Local that Park's comparison of refugees to terrorists was “sad”.
 
“Most of the refugees are fleeing from precisely terrorism in some form and only a small part of terrorism in Europe has been committed by Islamists.The main reason Syrians give for choosing Denmark is 'human rights' and the main reason for granting asylum is a refusal to join military forces – most refugees are so sick of war and fighting,” she said. 
 
“Dan Park is an established racist who will do anything for attention. I think we should ignore him,” Bendixen added. 
 
“As much attention as possible”
 
The head of a Danish committee that supports Dan Park’s work told the regional newspaper that the flyers were meant to “attract as much attention as possible”. 
 
“To consider the works as incitement to terror couldn’t be more wrong. [If that’s the case] then one doesn’t understand that Dan Park utlilizes a lot of irony in his work. The discussed piece ‘Terrorists Welcome’ is clearly not an incitement to terror but to the contrary is about the risk that there could be terrorist among the many refugees coming to the country,” Ibi-Pippi Orup Hedegaard told MidtJyllands Avis. 
 
Park is no stranger to controversy in Denmark or Sweden. The artist first garnered attention in 2011 with a picture of the leader of the National Afro-Swedish Association (Afrosvenskarnas riksförbund) superimposed on the image of a naked man in chains with the text “our negro slave has run away”. Park was given a fine and a suspended sentence. 
 
In August 2014, the artist was convicted by a Malmö court on charges of inciting racial agitation and defamation and sentenced to six months in jail.
 
That incident followed two earlier convictions for racial agitation. The Swedish state ordered nine of Park’s controversial works – which include an image that depicts three Swedish residents with African backgrounds portrayed with nooses around their necks, a Catholic bishop receiving fellatio from a young boy and Jesus having sex with Muhammad – to be destroyed, but the Danish Free Press Society (Trykkefrihedsselskabet) obtained the pieces and sold them online
 
In October 2014, the group displayed Park’s banned works in Copenhagen, both at the Danish parliament building and in a basement location in the district of Østerbro. 
 
Park was then assaulted in Copenhagen on New Year’s Day, which he said was a direct result of his controversial artwork. 
 
The Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) said last month that there was little risk that terrorists were among the refugees and migrants currently entering Denmark.