Head games! Snowden bust artists demand statue back

Bring him out: Lawyer Ron Kuby and, right, parks gadfly Geoffrey Croft call for the release of a bust of whistleblower Edward Snowden, which is sitting in the 88th Precinct station house, according to Kuby.
Community News Group / Noah Hurowitz

Let our plaster go!

The Police Department must release the bust of refugee whistle-blower Edward Snowden that it removed from Fort Green Park and locked down in the bowels of the 88th Precinct station house, a lawyer for the anonymous artists that created the piece demanded on Tuesday.

Cops and Parks workers seized the 100-pound bust on April 6, just hours after artists snuck into the park under the cover of darkness and, against the rules of the Parks Department, affixed it to column that makes up part of the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument.

Kuby is now petitioning the police to let the statue out on bail, and the artists hope to go through the proper channels to get the bust installed in a park. The artists put months of work into the statue with the intention of sparking a conversation about Snowden’s leaks and issues of privacy and freedom, not to let the bust molder in a basement, they said.

“It is somewhat ironic that as Edward Snowden is in exile in Russia, his statue is being held hostage in the basement of a police precinct in New York City,” said Ron Kuby at a press conference in Fort Greene Park on Tuesday morning. “You don’t get to keep it just because you want to and because you’re the NYPD.”

The artists have remained anonymous to avoid prosecution for their stunt, however Kuby said the only crime they are guilty of is entering the park when it was closed, a misdemeanor. In a letter to Police Commissioner William Bratton, the lawyer argued that by detaining the bust indefinitely, police are holding a piece of private property and ignoring due process.

“The sculpture itself has no evidentiary value in proving the Class B misdemeanor of trespass that may be alleged against the artists for being in the park after closing hours,” he wrote. “Therefore, there appears to be no basis for the NYPD to continue to possess this sculpture.”

And the artists say once they get the bust back, they’ll only keep it temporarily.

“It was always meant to be a gift to the city and, in turn, the public,” the artists said in a statement. “We hope New York City will release the statue so it may continue to spark healthy conversation about issues central to our freedom.”

A police representative of the declined to specify what charges the artists might face, and would not comment beyond confirming that police are investigating the stunt.

Reach reporter Noah Hurowitz at nhurowitz@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260–4505. Follow him on Twitter @noahhurowitz

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