During the course of the class, Corey and Jesse became serious about the Slang Gang. They started pumping out massive posters — some as big as eight feet long — featuring the characters. They also made stickers that were smaller than the palm of your hand. Jesse got credit for the project as an independent study.

And they weren't just making art, they were putting it on display, too. In March, the Slang Gang suddenly started turning up on posters stuck to the sides of buildings, parking structures, traffic signs and billboards. "We put them in spots where they couldn't get them down, basically," Corey says. They scaled buildings and leaned over the edges of rooftops, using all the dexterity they'd learned while skateboarding off rooftops. In class, Corey played videos and showed photos of the brothers putting up Saul Gud posters in the middle of the night.

The twins hit parts of town that were frequent street-art targets, such as downtown Denver, as well as spots in the suburbs that weren't as accustomed to tagging. "You don't expect to see posters while you're cruising through Arvada," says Jeremy Silas Ulibarri, a street artist better known as Jolt. "That's what I was getting a kick out of."

"I think we were doing it for a good cause," Corey says. "Make people laugh when they're stuck in traffic." A good cause that wasn't about racism, they insist, wasn't about stereotypes, wasn't about vandalism. It was just about fun.

They knew it was against the law to post posters without permission. But they thought they were mostly doing it on vacant buildings, and besides, they were using wheat paste — a mix of flour and water with a dash of sugar that comes off after a few months when exposed to the elements, but in the meantime holds on tight. They figured people would enjoy their art so much that it wouldn't be a big deal.

But it did turn into a big deal when some suburban cops thought the posters represented the work of a real gun-toting, drug-dealing, threatening-the-lives-of-our-children gang. The Knappers' inside joke soon grabbed the attention of the West Metro Drug Task Force, an organization better known for busting meth labs and cocaine smugglers than art-school students.

*****

On March 26, Corey got a call from Brad Pittman. He said he was the owner of Rock Rest Lodge in Golden and had seen Saul Gud, Ray Jin and Pho Reel posters around town. He liked them so much, he wanted four for his bar — and was willing to pay $50 for each of them.

Making money off of art — it was an art student's dream. But the deal was so modest, it didn't seem too good to be true. "It seemed plausible," Corey remembers. "I'd been [to Rock Rest] before to get a beer." A few days later, Pittman called again and told Corey that he and his bar manager, Pat, could get together with the twins at the King Soopers at West 38th Avenue and Sheridan Boulevard in Wheat Ridge.

The Knappers met Pittman and Pat in the supermarket parking lot on March 30. Pittman and Pat asked to see a poster of Saul Gud. The twins grabbed a few posters from the back of their other vehicle, a Toyota Tacoma, and began to unroll one.

"The second we unrolled it, SWAT had us on a car," Jesse remembers.

"I got tackled," Corey says. "Jesse got pushed up against a car. It was pretty extreme." The two were taken to the Wheat Ridge police station, processed, each charged with four counts of trespassing and four counts of defacing property, and released.

The men that Jesse thought were SWAT officers were Wheat Ridge cops, working with members of the West Metro Drug Task Force. Brad Pittman was actually J. Simpson, an officer with the Wheat Ridge Police Department, and Pat was Detective Pat Schreiner with the WMDTF; six additional officers provided cover.

The Wheat Ridge investigation of the Slang Gang had started on March 24, prompted by two property owners' complaints about graffiti. Simpson had studied the Slang Gang on Facebook. "I was able to view an album titled 'Homies' by 'Ray Jin' on Facebook," his report notes. He'd figured out that purported gang leader Corey was a RMCAD student because most of his Facebook friends were in the RMCAD network; he'd then gotten Corey's number from RMCAD's street-art class portal. After making contact with Corey, he'd requested $1,000 in marked bills from the WMDTF, as well as audio and visual recording equipment.

"West Metro was involved because they have resources that we don't," explains Lisa Spinder, public information officer at the Wheat Ridge Police Department, adding that such resources, including recording equipment, are necessary because "getting the information directly from the mouths of the suspects, it's how you build a case." 

And then Simpson set up the sting to capture the Slang Gang.

"When I asked him what the names meant, he said that they were part of the 'Slang Gang' and that putting up the posters is what they liked to do," Simpson's report continues.

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20 comments
Jeanne Hines
Jeanne Hines

Aha! I finally figured something out. Its against the law to leave your car running on your own property. Its called puffing and the cops don't want to be chasing car thieves so the onus is on me to make their job easier. Instead of the car thieves being the criminal and my insurance company the heavy if they don't insure me for doing something so stupid all of a sudden I am the lawbreaker for leaving my car running on my driveway. (Which I don't do but its a stupid ordinance just the same...)

Now I understand it is so they can spend the time and resources chasing down cartoonists and manhandling the dangerous hoodlums.

I feel so safe and ahem... (this is hard to write) free now.

Keep it real
Keep it real

So these guys and the art they were posting is deemed worthy of that kind of investigation, but the people that like to smoke crack, piss and shit, and pass out wasted in my alley are just part of the neighborhood? Great priorities.

Ti
Ti

It is so interesting that two entirely different drug task force could only do enough undercover research to catch two twin artists!!! Because you can't catch 'em if you can't call on the phone and get 'em to come to you---rite? ...and they have to look alike because if they aren't twins ----hell that's more work!

Damn 4 Real??? Finally a job for High school dropouts!!!!

...And I bet none of them were smarter than a fifth grader!

We should all feel protected and served!

Lewislafever
Lewislafever

I started reading this and when I saw the words "Wheat Ridge Police" I had to laugh The Pigs that rome the Mean streets of that bustling metropolitan have nothing else better to do. You have to remember this is the same city where the DA tyred to prosecute an 80 year old man for protecting his property from to illegal immigrants. In the police departments defence though art comes in many different flavors. Chocolate, Jelly Filled, Glazed and the ultimate Bear Claw. There interpretation of an art gallery comes in the form of Winchell's, Krispy Kream, and Dunkin Donuts. Wow you sure showed these Artest whoes boss. There are worse things these guy's could be doing.

s.girl
s.girl

They should HIRE these talented artists because Denver and Tucson could both use a bit more art in their lives....

And I laughed my ass off at the names of their characters. These young men have an amazing future ahead of them and I truly hope they become rich from their art.

And, fuck the "gang task force" who wasted the taxpayers' money on this witch hunt. Just shows how completely out-of-touch authorities are with what's REALLY going on around them.

Knappers5
Knappers5

The Gang is Ray Jin. If you get twisted by this you are a Buzz Kill. What was done was not malicious, it was done in fun and Saul Gud.

Cslynchrn
Cslynchrn

Thank you for Saul .Ray,Fay, and Pho I take them to work with me everyday.After 39 yrs working in an acute care setting in a hospital, these characters help me do my job

..........
..........

I hate cops!!!! Why don't you do some real police work, you wannabe detectives!!!

What a fucking joke.

And to RMCADstudent: You're just as much of a douche bag as those cops!

Keep following your dreams Jesse & Corey!!! I like your work.

artgurl
artgurl

I can't believe that so much time was wasted by the police over this. I loved seeing these posters around town, they made me laugh every time. I'm glad that Corey and Jesse are just rolling with the punches and that this didn't discourage them from pursuing their dreams. I'm also happy to see the school being mentioned, I'll be graduating from RMCAD in the spring, it's a great place to be.

RMCADstudent
RMCADstudent

Great job, assclowns. Youve succesfully made our school look EVEN worse, for putting up your shitty posters all over town and getting caught too. I still see the remains of the posters daily, they do not biodegrade nearly as fast as you said. I know a few other people that should have almost positively gone down with you asshats too, but whatever.

full time crime
full time crime

Nobody likes you. You can't draw for shit. You're mad jealous because you're an obscure nobody. And you just used BOTH the words assclown and asshat. Who's the fucking clown now you corny bitchmade whiteboy.

And don't forget, you're a pretentious art student. Nobody gives a fuck what you think kid.

stanley cheeba
stanley cheeba

I think they make the school look good, and you just look like a douche for whining and bitching. Therealtrickjames said it best: Jealous much?

kivalu
kivalu

First of all, the only people that make our school look bad are the spoiled and lazy students who show up on a free meal ticket, boasting of talent that’s yet to be seen all the while expecting their world and degree to be served to them on a fucking golden platter. These are the assclowns that continually produce the idiosyncrasy that make our school look bad. What have you done lately to represent RMCAD?

Therealtrickjames
Therealtrickjames

Jealous much? Your not known all over the city and your mediocre "art" will never be known. Don't hate fool.

dood
dood

So, how's about a pic or two of the art posters in question? Or a link? I can barely see the tiny pic, and can make out barely half of the one behind the pic of the two of them...wtf?

 
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