Dani Greene’s work on the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4075’s new mural came to a screeching halt Friday night after five Frankfort police cruisers came flying into the parking lot, she said.
Around 11 p.m., a caller reportedly told police that a person dressed in black was vandalizing the VFW building on Second Street. Greene said one officer arrived, and shortly after, four more cruisers arrived.
“They didn’t have to roll up on me like that,” Greene said. “I’m not a big-time criminal.”
Frankfort police had not responded Saturday evening to a State Journal reporter’s request for comment.
Greene is working to give the current mural on the VFW building a refreshed look. She’s painting a B-52 Bomber, a portrait of former VFW Post 4075 Commander Les Miller and an American flag on the side of the building that faces Capital Avenue.
Greene is volunteering to paint the mural. Frankfort resident Danny Strong is paying for the supplies and rental for a lift.
“I saw the wall and thought it would be great to have Dani do a new mural,” Strong said.
“We’ve been working with the VFW and with Carmen Inman at the Frankfort Area Chamber of Commerce,” he said. “The project has been approved now for months.”
Greene said after the officer arrived, he asked for her name and whether she had permission to paint at night.
“I told him I had full permission to be there,” she said.
Then the officer told her to call her customer to prove that she had permission, so she called Strong.
“The officer was being rude,” Strong said. “I tried to explain that we had permission and I was throwing names out of people I have been working with.”
Strong said the officer then asked if he was planning to do any other murals and told him that he should write a letter of permission that artists could give officers.
“It’s private property and we had permission,” he said. “How many people do we need to notify? I’m not going to do a public announcement.”
Greene said that she started the mural on Thursday and that officers had stopped by during the day to see what she was doing.
“I’m not sure where the disconnect was,” Strong said.
Greene said she felt like she was being harassed and treated like a criminal. At one point she went to her car to get another can of paint and an officer followed close behind her.
“I’m trying to do something good here and the cops were trying to run me off,” she said.
After the officer talked to Strong and an employee from the VFW arrived and told them she had permission, the police left. Greene said about 10 minutes later, an officer came back and asked for her Social Security number and said that they couldn’t find her in the system by just searching her name.
“I was compliant and gave it to them, but I proved I had permission to be there. Why did they need it?”
Strong said he understands that since police received a call, they had to respond. However, he wishes they had handled the situation different.
“We’ve done 14 murals in Lexington and I’ve gotten calls from Lexington Police before too, but they’re very professional,” Strong said. “They’re respectful. It was a very different conversation with these guys. They were rude and threatening.
“They didn’t need to come tearing in and right away assume she was doing criminal activity. She’s clearly not and she was treated in a way that isn’t acceptable. I think they should apologize to her.”
Greene said it should take her about three more days to complete the project. She tries to complete projects as quickly as possible.
“I’m painting a portrait of a commander on the VFW wall,” she said. “I don’t need the cops to try and stop that process.”
Doreen Powers, daughter of former VFW Post 4075 Commander Les Miller, said she’s humbled that a portrait of her father was chosen to be painted on the wall. Miller was a master sergeant in the Army. He served in the Korean War and two tours of Vietnam. He received a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star, she said. He died in 2000.
“I am humbled and honored at the same time,” Powers said. “I know my dad would feel the same.”