London, England — The elusive graffiti artist and pothole activist, that has gone by the pseudonymous name of Wanksy, was arrested early this morning by London’s Metropolitan Police. After hours of questioning and a raid of his London residence, his true name and identity have finally been revealed.
The City of London Police told the BBC that Wanksy’s real name is Paul Edwin Horner, a 36-year old male born in Liverpool, England.
London Police Chief James Edwards held a press conference to answer questions and explain how Horner was finally apprehended after being on the run for so long.
“We had a 24-hour Anti-Graffiti Pothole Task Force monitoring different locations where Wanksy was known to frequent. We received word that around 2am an individual left a flat speculated to belong to Wanksy. This individual was followed by agents and once vandalism had occurred, we then arrested the man,” Edwards said. “We then raided the flat where the person of interest was last seen leaving from. Inside we found plenty of evidence linking it to Wanksy. Mr. Horner, when confronted with the evidence, confessed to the crimes. [Horner] is currently being held without bail on charges of graffiti, vandalism, vigilantism and conspiracy.” Edwards continued, “The actions of this individual are not only stupid but incredibly insulting to local residents. Has this person, for just one second, considered how families with young children must feel when they are confronted with these obscene symbols as they walk to school?”
For months now, Horner has been using industrial chalk to draw penises around potholes all over England, claiming the eyesores expedite the filling process the BBC reports.
“[The potholes] don’t get filled. They’ll be there for months,” Horner said. “Suddenly you draw something amusing around it, everyone sees it, and it either gets reported or fixed.”
Wanksy pothole artist
The town council, unsurprisingly, has said the work is both unnecessary and obscene, claiming a penis frame will not get a pothole fixed any faster than usual. But the potholes were nonetheless getting filled.
Horner was arrested by London Police in Watford, a town and borough in Hertfordshire, England, about 17 miles northwest of central London. News of the arrest quickly prompted #FreeWanksy tweets and angry messages from people who thought that the cops should find better uses of their time.
A neighbor of Horner, 32-year-old Emily Williams, told reporters she does not agree with the arrest or outing of Wanksy’s identity.
“He’s just trying to keep the streets safe, spreading joy and making political statements the best way he knows how. That is what he was doing and I hope that is what he’ll continue to do,” Williams said. “For the London Police to setup some 24-hour task force just to catch Wanksy is ridiculous. I hope we hear plenty of noise from the good tax-paying citizens of London about this.”
After today’s arrest it is unclear who else will be sought in connection with Wanksy’s arrest. CNN spoke with Tom Downey who is a prosecutor in the district attorney’s office.
“If they spent this many man-hours and brought this many charges against Wanksy, I can’t imagine that he’ll be the only one to go down in all of this,” Downey said. “The London Police see Horner’s actions as extremely harmful and want to set a precedent for would be copycats, they want to lock him up for good.”
Horner claims many of the potholes he drew penises on are fixed within days.
“I wanted to attract attention to the pothole and make it memorable,” Horner had told the Manchester Evening News. “Nothing seemed to do this better than a giant comedy phallus.”
Local resident 27-year old Matthew Aldridge told reporters he was disgusted when he heard news of the arrest.
“What a waste of taxpayers money. Wouldn’t it be better spent fighting the war against drugs or violence ? What harm has this man done except draw some dicks on potholes that needed to be fixed?” Aldridge continued, “This is just another move by the Five-Oh to crush anything good and free. People need to work out what side they’re on and if they’re on the side of activism and freedom, they need to start fighting back. There are simply not enough heroes like Wanksy to do it for you. I hope this blows up in the cops’ faces and the rest of the government as well.”
As soon as news of the arrest was made, the City of London Police say they began receiving dozens of phone calls from people either claiming to be Wanksy, or claiming to be with him. As of 6 PM London time, hundreds of people were gathered outside the London Police Department chanting “I’m Wanksy!” and holding signs demanding his release. Various local news stations have reported witnessing the crowd parting for a blind woman who attempted to turn herself into authorities claiming that she was in fact the real Wanksy.
Horner was born in Liverpool is a city in Merseyside, England, on the eastern side of the Mersey Estuary. Horner is currently being held without bail on charges of graffiti, vandalism, vigilantism and conspiracy. More charges may follow. Anyone with more information on criminal charges that could be used against Horner, London Police working alongside with the F.B.I. encourage you to call (785) 273-0325. As always you can remain anonymous.