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Helsinki Deputy Mayor Caught Spray-painting Graffiti

The deputy mayor of Finland's capital is facing possible legal charges, and calls for him to pay for damages and to resign, after he was caught spray-painting graffiti in a railway tunnel.

The Finnish Transport Infrastructure Agency said that cleaning up graffiti illegally painted by Paavo Arhinmäki, one of the four deputy mayors of Helsinki, cost the city around 3,500 euros — or $3,830.

Arhinmäki, 46, and a friend were caught by guards in a rail tunnel in eastern Helsinki on June 23 just after they had completed the graffiti, which Finnish street art experts said was in the style of graffiti seen in New York City in the 1970s.

In a Facebook posting, Arhinmäki, who is a fan of street art and was a creator of graffiti in his youth, apologized for his "stupid fooling around."

Police are investigating Arhinmäki and his friend for vandalism and also for stopping rail traffic, because a train had to be temporarily stopped when the guards caught the graffiti artists.

It wasn't immediately clear whether Arhinmäki would face legal charges.

"I have committed a crime and bear full responsibility for it," Arhinmäki has said, but he has refused to resign from his post and the Helsinki City Council where his Left Alliance party is supporting him.

On social media most Helsinki citizens are against — but some are also supporting — the behavior of the deputy mayor who is in charge of culture and leisure in Helsinki, a city of 650,000 people.

The Finnish capital spends around $710,000 each year to remove graffiti, and is trying to create more sites where street art would be allowed.


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