Street Artist Arrested For Posting Ads About The ‘Safety’ Of Drones


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An art-school graduate has been arrested for allegedly putting up about 100 faux NYPD drone ads in various spots around the city, according to Shayne Jacobs of The New York Daily News.Last week the NYPD arrested Essam Attia, 29, on 56 charges including criminal possession of a forged instrument and grand larceny possession of stolen property.

As some BI readers pointed out when we wanted to talk to Attia, investigators identified the suspected prankster with the help of a semi-anonymous interview he gave to Animal New York.

“We see this trend throughout history of military technology always coming to the civilian world,” Attia, a former Army U.S. military geo-spatial analyst and Iraq veteran told Animal.

Attia said he and a few friends disguised themselves as employees of an outdoor advertising firm and tagged bus stations and kiosks throughout the city so that the discussion about domestic police use of drones reaches “a mainstream level where we are talking about this at the dinner table.”

One of Attia’s posters

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What Attia’s campaign and arrest ended up doing is prompt a discussion about the limits of free speech under the First Amendment. Tim Cushing of Techdirt argues that the pursuit of the artist “has very little to do with bringing a criminal to justice” and more to do with throwing the book at an artist who creatively raised awareness to the NYPD’s imminent use of drones.