Fredericton — The “man with a message” who has been defacing public sidewalks in the downtown area was taken into custody last night after police apprehended him outside city hall.
Law enforcement officials had dubbed him the “positivity vandal” as his identity was a mystery when his strange spraypainted messages about Fredericton began cropping up a few weeks ago. The young man will soon be facing a host of charges including destruction of public property, solicitation, causing a disturbance, public mischief and flight from police.
Denying that his work is graffiti, the vandal — whose identity is still under wraps pending charges — claimed he merely wanted to spread messages of goodwill to Frederictonians.
“No, I didn’t cite sources with my art, but the important thing is I was letting people feel good about their city with these harmless made-up slogans,” he said. Some of the messages written in bright primary colours include:
Fredericton: We Mapped the Moon for NASA;
Fredericton: Named One of World’s Smartest Cities. Twice;
Fredericton: Canada’s #1 Cost Competitive Location;
Fredericton: 4th Most Educated Population in Canada.
“Some of the things he wrote on the sidewalks were flat-out false,” said Fredericton Chief of Police Leanne Fitch, “and not backed up with sources of any kind. That’s what I had a problem with. It’s nice that he was trying to be positive, but lying to pedestrians? Unacceptable.”
Fitch also said that police initially questioned Fredericton Tourism, who denied they had anything to do with it. “They were offended that we even asked them,” explained Fitch.
Most Frederictonians we spoke with were disturbed when the messages began appearing, and thankful that the culprit has been caught.
“I was out for a walk on my lunch break when I saw something written on the sidewalk. Curiosity got the better of me, so I went to check it out,” said Department of Transportation employee Shelly McKinley.
“It said ‘Fredericton: 75 percent of the province’s research is conducted here,’ or something along those lines. I was thinking ‘says who?’ It’s a nice thought, but why would I believe that, or even care? Thank god they finally found out who was doing it.”