Victoria Police is investigating after a group of masked people were filmed spraying paint over street art in Melbourne’s iconic Hosier Lane on Saturday evening.
A video posted to Instagram on Sunday shows the people, who covered their faces with makeshift masks and filmed themselves with a drone, defacing many of the colourful murals that have made the laneway between Flinders Lane and Flinders Street a tourist hotspot.
Lord Mayor Sally Capp has condemned the strike as vandalism.
“Melbourne is the street-art capital of Australia. We recognise the importance of street art to our city’s culture, particularly as an attraction for local and overseas visitors,” Lord Mayor Capp said in a statement. “We see this act as vandalism, particularly given the damage they’ve done to the pavement and cobblestones.
"The City of Melbourne has reported the incident to Victoria Police.”
Aside from the damage to property, the group – which used fire extinguishers to spray paint over the existing works – could be charged for flying a drone in the city without a permit and without following Civil Aviation Safety Authority rules, which stipulate that drones cannot be flown within 30 metres of other people.
The mayor said the incident was “not in keeping with the spirit of Hosier Lane”, but acknowledged the temporary and ephemeral nature of street art.
On social media, some have speculated that the group’s action may be a response to the commodification of the laneway, which features many large-scale pieces – including recent tributes to Lizzo and comedian Celeste Barber – and is touted as a must-see for tourists.
Masked men have armed themselves with fire extinguishers and sprayed over the precious graffiti art in Melbourne’s iconic Hosier Lane. @cityofmelbourne looking into it. Video courtesy of Instagram/joe_musco @10NewsFirstMelb #springst @10NewsFirst (and thanks @RossAndJohn 4 tip) pic.twitter.com/Shbrb26OA6— Simon Love (@SimoLove) February 9, 2020