Tuesday, March 13, 2012
Listen for the Drone
However, it is not clear that these signs are actually the work of the NYPD, and the stir is going as planned. According to an article in the New Yorker on January 23, 2012 by Nick Paumgarten, the signage is the work of a 28-year-old photographer in Manhattan who had served in Iraq as a geospatial analyst for the army. He'd worked with satellite and drone images to provide maps for troops on the ground.
After his discharge from the Army, he became a radical art school student who was dismayed with the Army's use of drones to kills militants in Afghanistan and Pakistan which were being tested on home soil. From the article:
He found an municipal sign manufacturer in a state far from New York, so as not to raise any alarm, and ordered a series of drone-alert parking sings that he'd designed to look as if they'd been issued by the NYPD. Very late on several nights a few weeks ago he set out with a crew of five to install the signs in SoHo, the West Village, Chelsea, Dumbo, and Williamsburg. Two of them did the installing, the others were on the lookout. The had walkie-talkies and, since they were on an open frequency, communicated in military code.
Eleven such signs were installed - some have disappeared quickly, while others remain. References to the New Yorker article populate the Internet alongside assertions that the signs and threat of the use of drones for civilian monitoring is real. Comments are dominated by alarmist reactions, as would be expected.
If the work is not that of the NYPD and by an activist, I am puzzled as to why these signs would remain prominently posted. I called the local precinct, and they seemed unaware of the signs and not particularly alarmed. The community affairs officer said that if the sign bothered me, I should take it down. When I asked regarding the legality of posting signs appearing to be those of the NYPD, she mentioned freedom of speech. I have no intention of attempting to remove a sign prominently located on Washington Square North and 5th Avenue and test the law. But I will occasionally look up and Listen for the Drone :)
More signs: $57.50 (Part 1 and Part 2), Eyes on the Signs, Asbestos Sticks, Martin Luther King, Jr., No Students After 1, WFF 'N PROOF, Small Achievements, ArtKraft Strauss, Dead or Alive, Store Policies, Advertising Gone Wild, Colossal Misbehavior, Pepsi-Cola in Neon, Vintage Mural, One Hour