FORT GREENE — A group of anonymous artists erected an illegal bust of Edward Snowden in Fort Greene Park early Monday morning — but the sculpture was taken down hours later after being covered with a tarp by the Parks Department.
The 4-foot bust was placed atop a pillar near the Prison Ship Martyrs Monument and was designed to start a conversation about whistleblowers like Snowden, who was charged with leaking classified government documents, the artist group wrote in a statement on Animal New York.
"Fort Greene’s Prison Ship Martyrs Monument is a memorial to American POWs who lost their lives during the Revolutionary War," the group wrote. "We have updated this monument to highlight those who sacrifice their safety in the fight against modern-day tyrannies."
The NYPD's intelligence division is investigating the incident, authorities said.
The entire installation, which happened before dawn, was documented by Animal New York, which was allowed to broadcast the incident if they kept the faces of the artists blurred and their voices unrecognizable.
The artists — wearing hard hats, bright yellow construction vests and surgical masks covering the mouths — wheeled the bust to Fort Greene Park on a dolly and installed it before the sun rose, according to a video.
In the video, the artists call the sculpture "a gift to the city" and said, "but gifts sometimes are not accepted."
Around noon Monday the Parks Department had covered the bust with a tarp while onlookers snapped pictures and took videos. By 2 p.m., the scupture had been taken down completely, witnesses said on Twitter.
Edward Snowden has been removed. pic.twitter.com/2DYqBElN4L— Josephine Tovey (@Jo_Tovey) April 6, 2015
The Parks Department referred all requests for comment to the NYPD.
Artist Justine Williams, 38, who lives in Fort Greene and had been sitting on a bench near the artwork for more than three hours, said she was surprised at the speed with which the city agency took action.
"It's amazing how fast it was covered," she said. "I think the bust was a respectful way to open a public debate."
The artists said that even if the bust was taken down, the action would still cause a stir.
"If this thing gets taken down right away we certainly be disappointed," they said in the video. "But we think it will be worth it thanks to the Internet."