Fort Greene

Bust of Edward Snowden sneaked into, removed from Fort Greene Park

April 7, 2015 Associated Press
A bust of the former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden was sneaked into and installed in Fort Greene Park on Monday.  AP Photo/Aymann Ismail/ANIMALNewYork

Suddenly, in the middle of the New York night, Edward Snowden’s face appeared — deep in a public park.

A 4-foot-high, 100-pound sculpted bust of the whistleblower now exiled in Russia was sneaked into Brooklyn’s Fort Greene Park on Monday before dawn.

Animal New York, a city news website that first reported the incident, said the mysterious perpetrators were a small group of artists — admirers of the former contractor who had leaked classified information from the National Security Agency to the media.

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The activists hoisted the bust to the top of a Revolutionary War memorial, adding his name to a column, according to Animal New York.

The website says the group allowed it to document installation of the statue on the condition that it not reveal the identities of the artists.

Snowden’s artistic appearance was short-lived.

At daybreak, police said city parks officials ordered the sculpted Snowden removed. And by evening, his bust was being held at Brooklyn’s 88th Precinct pending an investigation.

The idea for the tribute was conceived by two New York City-based artists, joined by a West Coast sculptor, Animal New York said.

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In a statement to the online outlet, they said they had “updated” the memorial to American POWs who died during the Revolutionary War “to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies. It would be a dishonor to those memorialized here to not laud those who protect the ideals they fought for, as Edward Snowden has by bringing the NSA’s 4th-Amendment-violating surveillance programs to light.”

“I believe if these artists wanted a better way and better location to put forth their grievance they should have chosen a different venue rather than desecrate this sacred site,” said Ron Schweiger, President of  The Society of Old Brooklynites. 

“It’s an outrage and unconscionable that a group of misguided artists would disrespect such a hallowed burial site, which contains the actual remains of 11,500 patriots from the American Revolution,” said Ted General, the Society’s Vice President. “They were captured by the British and incarcerated aboard decrepit prison ships under horrific conditions, largely because they failed to swear allegiance to the British crown. We are deeply grateful to the NYC Parks Department for moving quickly and decisively to have this bronze bust removed.”

The entire Society statement can be found below:

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The Society of Old Brooklynites which was founded in 1880 when Brooklyn was an independent City and the third largest in the nation is speaking out about the recent insensitive and illegal action of the placement of an unauthorized bronze bust at the site of the Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument atop of the hill in Fort Greene Park.  The sculpture which has the facial features of a discredited National Security Agency worker, who spilled national security secrets, was propped up on one of the four columns that mark off the area surrounding the 149-foot Prison Ship Martyrs’ Monument which has a burial chamber 40 feet below the hallowed grounds.

 Each year since the late  1800’s and before and after the formal raising of the towering monument in 1908 which was dedicated by then President-elect Howard Taft, the Society has been holding memorial ceremonies at this sacred site.  On August 23rd of last year, Congressman Hakeem Jeffries was the Society’s keynote speaker for the occasion, and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams was one of the guest speakers.

Ron Schweiger, the current Society President stated, “I believe if these artists wanted a better way and better location to put forth their grievance they should have chosen a different venue rather than desecrate this sacred site.”

Ted General, a Society Vice President and public relations director, added “It’s an outrage and unconscionable that a group of misguided artists would disrespect such a hallowed burial site, which contains the actual remains of 11,500 patriots from the American Revolution.  They were captured by the British and incarcerated aboard decrepit prison ships under horrific conditions, largely because they failed to swear allegiance to the British crown. We are deeply grateful to the NYC Parks Department for moving quickly and decisively to have this bronze bust removed.”

The Society of Old Brooklynites was founded in 1880 by former mayors of the City of Brooklyn.  John W. Hunter, a former member of Congress and a Brooklyn mayor was the Society’s first President. Prominent members of the group have included Walt Whitman and Seth Low, a former Brooklyn and then New York City mayor.  While part of the Society’s name is “old,” it is somewhat of a misnomer because Brooklyn residents as young as 25 years of age are eligible for membership, and are current members.

 


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