Joseph Rocco Peransi, Jansen Michael Lee and Gregory Winfield Smith
SANTA BARBARA COUNTY — It’s been nearly two decades since California schools slashed the budgets of non-academic arts and music programs. Setting aside today’s pop musical trends as an indication of where this has taken the public taste in song and melody, it’s apparent that the elimination of visual arts from public school curricula is having an ongoing negative impact upon our urban environments.
Evidence of the inability of the education system or of legislated proscriptions to eradicate the creative instinct among the population can be seen on freeway overpasses, building walls, and bridge abutments throughout the state.
Because painting on public surfaces can be charged as a felony, and because Santa Barbara has a particular economic interest in keeping things pristine for the sake of it tens of thousands of annual tourists, enforcement efforts against graffiti artists, while often late to the scenes of the crimes can be rigorous when perpetrators are caught red-handed.
According to Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department Public Information officer Kelly Hoover, that’s exactly what happened on September 9th, when “a citizen was doing community service graffiti abatement” when he spotted three guys spray painting a mural on the concrete wall of a culvert tunnel in broad daylight.
After a quick call to 911, Sheriff’s deputies rolled onto the scene and –after a brief attempt by the suspects to flee—took into custody Santa Barbara residents Joseph Rocco Peransi, 31, Jansen Michael Lee, 33, and 32-year-old Lompoc resident Gregory Winfield Smith.
The three were found in “possession of more than 60 cans of spray paint, five cans of paint with rollers, and a camera to photograph their graffiti murals,” giving the cops ample probable cause to arrest the trio on charges of conspiracy, vandalism of $400 or more, possession with the intent to commit vandalism or graffiti, and dumping waste matter in a creek.” Additionally, Lee was booked on a felony warrant “for felony graffiti and vandalism.”
All three were transported to Santa Barbara County Jail for booking on the aforementioned charges, with Peransi currently held on $45,000 bail and Lee in custody on $105,000 bail pursuant to his arrest while on bail. For his part, Smith posted his $20,000 bail and was released.
Photos: Courtesy Santa Barbara County Jail Booking