Case 2:21-cv-03093 Federal District Court of the Eastern District of NY

Case Name:MICHAEL MCLEER (a.k.a. KAVES), individually and on behalf of a class of all others similarly situated, v. NEW YORK CITY POLICE DEPARTMENT; CITY OF NEW YORK

Plaintiffs: MICHAEL MCLEER (a.k.a. KAVES)

Represented by: Juyoun Han, Eric Baum, Ayo Alston-Moore, Eisenberg & Baum LLP

Case Summary: 

Legendary Brooklyn artist Michael McLeer, better known as “Kaves,” filed a class action lawsuit against the NYPD demanding immediate stop to the NYPD’s “graffiti cleanup campaign”. Kaves is represented by Juyoun Han and Eric Baum of the New York City law firm Eisenberg & Baum, LLP. Eric Baum was the lead counsel on the 5Pointz case. The case is filed in the Eastern District of New York on Tuesday, June 1, 2021.

Write to us to find out more about your rights and the class-action suit. If you experienced similar harm from the defendants, contact us: Juyoun Han (   

Case Background:

On April 10 2021, the NYPD destroyed Kaves’ “Death from Above,” a long-standing mural in DUMBO created with the full permission of the property owner in August 2008 and treasured by the community. NYPD proudly tweet-ed about destroying the artwork and posted photos.

The class action alleges that the haphazard manner of graffiti removal violates the Visual Artists Rights Act, and tramples upon street artists’ right to free expression and right to property. “It is no different than walking into a gallery or museum and painting over one of the works.” Kaves said.

In addition to agonizing over the loss of the mural, Kaves believes the NYPD’s conduct reflects “disrespectful disregard for art, and for an American-born art movement that is celebrated all over the world.” In the class action, Kaves would potentially represent all artists whose artworks have been destroyed, mutilated, and modified by the NYPD, and who had painted murals with authorization from the property owner.

The suit seeks injunctive relief and damages. This story is reminiscent of the much-lamented destruction of the works of 21 prominent street artists at the 5Pointz complex in 2013, for which the developer was fined $6.75 million dollars for whitewashing the entire site overnight.



Artist says NYPD’s graffiti removal flouts First Amendment rights” Reuters (Jun 02)

Street Artist Kaves Slaps the NYPD With a Lawsuit, Saying It Illegally Whitewashed a New York Mural He Painted With Full Permission” ArtNet (Jun 02)

Brooklyn artist suing NYPD after mural is painted over as part of cleanup initiative” Bronx News 12 (Jun 03)

Street Artist Sues NYPD for Covering Mural” ArtNews (Jun 02)

Is the NYPD’s New ‘Graffiti Cleanup’ Blotting Out Brooklyn Street Art?” Brooklyn Reader (Jun 04)

Renowned graffiti artist sues NYPD for painting over his street art” NY Daily News (Jun 01)

The Long-Awaited Gateway Rail Tunnel Moves Ahead, and Other News” Surface Mag (snippet) (Jun 03)

Please forward all media inquiries to the law firm. Tel: (212) 353-8700. 

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