Cleaning Up Deputy Mayor's Graffiti Cost City $3.8K

Helsinki's Paavo Arhinmaki apologizes for 'stupid fooling around'
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 29, 2023 12:09 PM CDT
Deputy Mayor Caught Painting Graffiti in Rail Tunnel
Paavo Arhinmaki, right, then leader of the Left Alliance and candidate for the Finnish Parliament, meets with voters during the party's 2011 election campaign in Helsinki, Finland.   (Sari Gustafsson/Lehtikuva via AP, File)

A deputy mayor of Finland's capital is facing possible legal action, as well as calls to resign and pay compensation for damages, after he was caught red-handed spray-painting graffiti in a railway tunnel last weekend. The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency told public broadcaster YLE on Wednesday that cleaning up graffiti illegally painted by Paavo Arhinmaki, one of the four deputy mayors of Helsinki, cost the city around $3,830. The case has caused uproar and debate among Helsinki citizens on social media, with a majority condemning—but some also fiercely supporting—the actions of the deputy mayor, who's in charge of culture and leisure affairs in the city of 650,000 inhabitants, the AP reports.

Arhinmaki, 46, and a friend were caught by guards in a rail tunnel in eastern Helsinki on Friday just after they'd completed the graffiti, which Finnish street art experts said looked partly inspired by works seen in New York City in the 1970s. Finland's largest newspaper, Helsingin Sanomat, published a photo of the large-scale graffiti in a tweet. In a Facebook posting on Sunday, Arhinmaki, who's known as a strong supporter of street art and as a creator of graffiti in his youth, apologized for his "stupid fooling around." He's a former lawmaker and chairman of the Left Alliance and served as a minister for culture and sports from 2011 to 2014.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Arhinmaki would face legal charges. "I have committed a crime and bear full responsibility for it," Arhinmaki told YLE on Monday, but he has refused to resign from his post and the Helsinki City Council, where his Left Alliance party is backing him.

(More Helsinki stories.)

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