This one’s being worked on right now – I’m not sure which guy’s Banksy…
GRAFFITI HEROES #03
In 1974 a 33 year old man named George Davis was convicted of robbing the payroll of the London Electricity Board in Ilford. He was nailed on the evidence of cops who were outside the bank at the time of the robbery and was sent to prison for 20 years.
However, his friend Peter Chappell was convinced Davis was innocent and inspired by discrepancies in the police statements and the fact that none of the bloodstains at the scene matched with the defendant, started calling for Davis’ release. Chappall enrolled some friends and embarked on one of the largest sustained grafitti campaigns Britain has ever seen. Over the following months ‘G DAVIS IS INNOCENT’ appeared on walls, bridges and tunnels from one side of London to the other, some of which are still visible today.
The vandalism culminated in Chappell and four others breaking into Headingley cricket ground in August 1975 the night before a test match between England and Australia. Using plastic cutlery from a service station they dug holes in the pitch, filled them with oil and painted ‘Sorry it had to be done, but George Davis is innocent’ in large white letters on the wall as they left. The match was postponed and Chappell got 18 months for criminal damage.
The campaign brought the case to the attention of the Home Secretary who after a police inquiry released Davis two years into his sentence using the highly exceptional and controversial Royal Prerogative of Mercy.
The fight to free George Davis was one of the most spetacular campaigns ever fought against injustice, an achievement only slightly marred when a year after his release Davis was found guilty of robbing the Bank of Cyprus for which he served six years, and three years after which he was caught red-handed robbing a mail train.
George Davis is now a free man and happily married to the daughter of a North London Chief Inspector of Police.