Alleged Graffiti Artist Was Caught Red-Handed by Employees of Downtown Strip Club

It wasn’t the first time he’d been caught. Three years ago, he told police “he was making art to impress a girl.”

The "Tendo" tag on the wall of the Oregon Leather Company. (Screenshot of PPB affidavit)

Emile Laurent, the professional skateboarder and suspected graffiti artist, was caught in February after he was spotted tagging a Chinatown wall by employees of a neighboring strip club.

He and two others fled the scene, but cops chased him down. Laurent, 22, was caught red-handed.

“Emile Laurent had fresh red paint on his hands and white specks of paint all over his face, shirt, and pants,” according to a police affidavit establishing probable cause to search Laurent’s home. The affidavit was reported earlier this week by KGW. The manager of Spyce Gentlemen’s Club identified Laurent as the tagger.

Laurent denied the crime, but police found what they say is his distinctive tag, “Tendo,” scrawled in 4-foot-high letters on the cement wall of the Oregon Leather Company across the street.

The police issued a warrant for his arrest last weekend and he turned himself on Monday. He was released later that day under a supervision agreement that allows him to travel to Europe prior to his next court date in December. His attorney, Bridget Donegan, declined to comment.

It wasn’t the first time Laurent had been caught.

Three years earlier, in December 2018, a man reported two vandals tagging the wall of the Sandy Boulevard Rectal Clinic in Kerns. Again, Laurent ran but was caught. His partner, accused of being a lookout, pinned the blame on Laurent. So did the police, who watched as a spray can fell out of his pocket.

Laurent, who was wearing a black hoodie with “Nintendo” printed on the sleeve, said “he was making art to impress a girl.”

He was arrested and released. The charge of criminal mischief was dropped.

Following the 2022 incident in Chinatown, however, the cops investigated further. They hunted through city and state databases for reports of similar graffiti tags and documented several dozen other instances of “Tendo” being scrawled on walls, sidewalks and street signs.

There was one on the metal awning of Mary’s Club downtown.

emile mary Screenshot of image in police affidavit.

Another, on the garage door of Floyd’s dispensary in Northeast Portland.

emile floyd Screenshot of image in police affidavit.

And on the wall of the paint manufacturer Sherwin Williams.

emile sherwin Screenshot of image in police affidavit.

In their affidavit, the police pin the vandalism on Laurent, arguing it is unlikely to have been done by copycats or a group.

“The reason ‘taggers’ don’t copy each other’s monikers is because such action would only garner fame for the tag’s originator, not the person attempting to copy it,” the police say, noting that taggers will “physically fight” anyone who threatens their territory.

Officers searched Laurent’s home in April. They found over a dozen “practice pads” with Laurent’s “Tendo” tag in his bedroom. There were spray cans in the basement laundry room and a black paint-splattered “Polar Skate” jacket in the mud room.

Laurent is an acclaimed skateboarder who is sponsored by the Swedish apparel company Polar Skate Co. He remains listed as a member of the company’s team on its website, which features a photo of Laurent ollieing off an air-conditioning unit. Polar has not returned multiple requests for comment from WW.

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