International Street Artist Murdered in Detroit
Detroit Police are seeking anyone that knew the 23-year old international graffiti artist, Bilal Berreni, during his brief and fatal stay here in the 313. The young VIP International was shot in the face at the long-abandoned Brewster-Douglass housing project on the East Side in July.
Until the DPD very recently discovered his identity, Berreni was just one among several unidentified corpses kept on ice at the Wayne County Morgue. The police were able to piece together the few available clues to identify the street artist from Paris.
At the time of his death, Berreni had survived refugee camps along the border of Libya; revolutionary Tunisia; he ran the streets of Paris his whole life; he roamed the lawless cities of Eastern Europe, covering abandoned concrete with black and white paint wherever he went; he flopped around Gotham in the summer of 2012; he was even arrested in Ohio.
St. Antoine St., here in the 313, however, was the end of the road for Berreni, described as an up and coming icon in the world of street art. His works were profiled in Le Monde in 2011.
Berreni's father described his son as an enlightened artist, perhaps belonging to another century; he had a nose for the revolution in the air around Northern Africa in 2010; his father told the Freep that his son, "was not afraid of danger." His father said he came to Detroit because he was interested in the creation that arises out of chaos.
Well, there's danger, and there's chaos...and there's the 313. It's a real shame, but not all that surprising that a young international luminary had to be gunned down here in the D, and left to rot like trash.
Kudos to the DPD for tracking down the identity and the story behind this unfortunate artist. Hopefully, they find his killer(s).
Perhaps someday, something good will emerge from the danger and chaos of Detroit. As this young unfortunate artist's death tells us, however, that day is still a long long way off.
Post Script: November 22, 2014: per the Detroit News. Four Detroit gang youths are charged with the street artist's killing. Preliminary exams are being scheduled in the Frank Murphy Hall of Justice and the victim's family is expected to fly in to face their son's killers.
September 15, 2015 Post Script: Two of the four young Detroiters charged in Bilal's murder have pled guilty. Another, Dionte Travis, went to trial as an accessory; a "look-out". That trial ended in a mistrial when the jury could not come to an unanimous verdict. A new trial has been scheduled for early next year.