New Yorkers on their morning walks today were surprised to see a monument to controversial National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden installed in a Brooklyn park.
The guerrilla artists fastened the carefully crafted bust of Mr. Snowden in Fort Greene Park on the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument, which is dedicated to 11,000 prisoners of war who died as captives aboard British ships during the Revolutionary War. The choice of location was not a coincidence.
"We feel that Snowden's actions really continue that story," the artists anonymously told Mashable. "It is built upon a set of ideals to live freely, not be confined or surveilled or monitored by your government. You can’t have freedom of expression to pursue liberty if you feel like you're doing it under a watchful eye."
The artists think Snowden will in time come to be seen as a hero, despite being characterized as a criminal by many, like many of America's revolutionary Patriots.
"All too often, figures who strive to uphold these ideals have been cast as criminals rather than in bronze," the artists told Animal.
The statue appeared in the park the morning after HBO’s aired comedian John Oliver’s interview with Snowden, which was filmed in Russia where Snowden has been in hiding since fleeing the United States in 2013.
The artists, two of whom concocted the idea and a third who created the sculpture, spent nearly a year on the project. The bust was designed specifically for the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument and weighed 100 pounds. Their hope was that the city would leave the statue in place and allow the conversation about Snowden, security and transparency to continue. However, this plan has already failed.
The letters at the bottom of the pedestal, which spelled out Snowden’s name, were removed and the statue was covered with a tarp upon discovery this morning. Later in the day the bust was removed because, according to park officials, the installation of unapproved artwork in city parks is illegal.
Twitter was quick to notice the irony of the transparency advocate's statue being concealed from the public.
The NYPD Intelligence Division is currently investigating the situation.