Friday, January 16, 2009

Mixed-martial-arts champion charged in Capitol graffiti case

By Jeremy Pawloski | The Olympian • Published January 14, 2009

OLYMPIA – OLYMPIA — Prosecutors have charged Olympia mixed-martial-arts champion and avowed anarchist Jeff Monson with first-degree malicious mischief based on photographs published in a December edition of ESPN The Magazine that showed him spray-painting an anarchist symbol on the state Capitol, court papers state.

A warrant for Monson’s arrest was filed today in Thurston County Superior Court. Monson, 37, is charged with first-degree malicious mischief, a Class B felony carrying a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

The graffiti cost $19,000 to clean up, court papers state.

Police have sought the people responsible for spray-painting graffiti on columns on the north side of the Capitol on Nov. 26. The graffiti included anarchy symbols, a peace symbol and phrases such as “no war” and “no poverty.”

According to court papers, a State Patrol and an Olympia police detective recognized Monson as the source of the graffiti on surveillance footage captured by a camera at the Capitol, but the break in the case occurred after ESPN The Magazine published an article on Monson and his political views Dec. 29.

A photograph of Monson leaving graffiti on the Capitol was included with the article, court papers state.

“In full the caption above the picture reads: ‘On a recent night in Olympia, Monson suddenly pulled out a spray can and tagged the state capitol (sic),’” court papers state.

“The term ‘tagged’ seems somewhat puerile in light of the fact that the State Buildings and Grounds expended $19,013.50 (labor and materials) to eradicate the damage.”

Monson, an Olympia native and Timberline High School graduate who was on the wrestling team at Oregon State University, left a job as a mental-health counselor to pursue mixed-martial-arts fighting. In December 2004, he won the Cagewarriors Fighting Champion heavyweight title in Sheffield, England, by defeating Tengiz Tedoradze with a submission hold in the first round. On Dec. 13, 2008, he won a match against Ricco Rodriguez in the Mixed Fighting Alliance “There Will Be Blood” event in Miami. Monson’s fighting nickname is The Snowman. He is listed as the world grappling champion.

Reached by telephone today, Monson, who is out of state, took responsibility for the graffiti at the Capitol. He said that it had a point: to protest the war in Iraq and economic inequality at home and abroad.

“Every great movement in the United States, from civil rights, women’s rights, the labor movement, has been the result of people standing up and breaking the law, refusing to stand at the back of the bus, refusing to stand aside when the government asks you to get off their property,” Monson said. “And now, these people are seen as pioneers. But at the time, they were criminals — they were literally criminals. I’m not here to advocate for myself; at some point you have to stand up.”

Monson, who said he participated in protests at the Port of Olympia in November 2007 and in other protests against the Iraq War, added that he wants to make his political beliefs known.

“When a country’s committing an illegal war, you’re not supposed to stand aside,” he said.

Monson said he just got back from Nicaragua, where he saw some of the worst poverty he has ever seen. He said his international travel has opened his eyes to issues of poverty worldwide.

“We’re completely complicit,” he said. “It’s all about consumerism. We want cheap TVs, we want cheap clothes, we want cheap Nikes. We’re exploiting these people.”

Monson said he had heard only 20 minutes earlier that the State Patrol was looking for him in Olympia. He said he is going to contact State Patrol, but he’s not sure what he’s going to do.

Jeremy Pawloski covers public safety for The Olympian. He can be reached 260-754-5465 or

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