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How Reddit Helped Find A Graffiti Artist Who Defaced National Parks

Yosemite is one of seven national parks defaced by Casey Nocket in 2014, the National Park Service says.
David Calvert
Getty Images
Yosemite is one of seven national parks defaced by Casey Nocket in 2014, the National Park Service says.

Colorful acrylic paintings on red and gray rock formations and profiles of people smoking cigarettes, signed with a repetitive "Creepytings," caused an uproar on Reddit more than a year ago. Now, the uproar is calming.

After spending a month drawing and painting on the rocks in seven national parks, Casey Nocket, 23, of San Diego, was banned this month from national parks and other federally administered lands, according to the National Park Service.

The conviction is owed largely to a band of Reddit users faithful to keeping natural spaces free from what the NPS called vandalism. The October 2014 post in Reddit's hiking community questioning whether action could be taken against Nocket caught the attention of many users who had seen her work, including Yosemite National Park investigator Steve Yu.

Yu joined the Reddit conversation and began receiving tips from users who were conducting their own investigations, uncovering Nocket's Instagram, Facebook and Tumblr accounts. Her home address and other contact information also surfaced, giving way to a bout of Internet trolling and harassment, The Guardian reported.

Yu and members of the Reddit community encouraged users to respect the legal process, and authorities eventually prosecuted Nocket.

"This case illustrates the important role that the public can play in identifying and sharing evidence of illegal behavior in parks," Charles Cuvelier, chief of Law Enforcement, Security, and Emergency Services for the National Park Service, said in a news release.

Nocket pleaded guilty and received two years of probation and 200 hours of community service. Until her probation ends, she is banned from all land administered by the National Park Service, the U.S. Forest Service, the Bureau of Land Management and the Army Corps of Engineers — roughly the equivalent of 20 percent of the United States, according to The Guardian.

In a later interview with NPR, Cuvelier reiterated: "As stewards of national parks, it's our responsibility to protect those unique stories for future generations."

Justina Vasquez is a business desk intern.

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Justina Vasquez