Photo: Stock Image
Definitions of public art may vary with widespread acceptance of creative expressions that many would consider “low brow”, but the laws passed by the California legislature take the high road when it comes to spray-painted graphic designs applied to both public and private real estate.
Those laws may not have crossed the minds of four Thousand Oaks residents who are active gang members. According to Ventura County Sheriff’s Department spokesman Sgt. Jonathan James, 30-year-old Luis Ramirez’s graffiti-style artwork was perceived as anything but artistic throughout the month of October 2023 when damage to public and private property caused by him “was in excess of $950,” earning him a search warrant with his name on it.
With a prior felony search warrant naming him as a suspected car thief, Ramirez was contacted on the morning of January 18th by detectives attached to the Thousand Oaks Directed Enforcement Unit and the East Valley Major Crimes Unit. With Ramirez in custody, the search warrant of his residence was executed, at which point detectives and VCSD Patrol Services deputies contacted 39-year-old Jorge Gonzalez, 57-year-old Reyna Aleman de Ramirez, and 40-year-old Jose Ramirez, who were in the home at that time.
Apparently lacking the social graces to welcome the cops into the home, Jose Ramirez and Ryena Aleman de Ramirez were less than cordial; they were promptly taken into custody for behavior that “delayed and obstructed deputies’ duties in executing the search warrant.” Gonzalez, with “two outstanding felony warrants and seven misdemeanor warrants” to his name, was also taken into custody. The ensuing search of the premises led to the discovering of “controlled substances, gang-related indicia, and graffiti paraphernalia.”
All four suspects were transported to Ventura County Jail where Luis Ramirez was charged with felony vandalism, possession of controlled substances, and outstanding warrants, with his bail set at $120,000. Gonzalez was booked on his warrants with his bail set at $58,500.