On Thursday, August 26th, police arrested a person of interest who allegedly painted a Super Mario-inspired yellow symbol on the water tower that hovers over American playground near West and Milton streets.
For hours, the NYPD engaged in a stand-off with the artist, blocking traffic on West Street between Oak and Milton and Noble Street between Franklin and West. American Playground was also closed for the entire day. In addition to several uniformed police officers on the ground near the playground, helicopters circled over the area for hours.
It is thought that the painting was done in the early morning hours of Thursday. Pedestrians saw the police out at 8 a.m. but some heard the officers had been on the scene as early as midnight.
Police on the scene told passersby that “someone is stuck up there.” When parents and children tried to enter American Playground, the officers denied them entry and put up blue tape across the entrances, telling parents “helicopters will be flying above it all day, so the playground needs to be closed for the safety of the children.”
From the ground, pedestrians could not see the artist in the water tower. Jason Mojica tweeted, “Photojournalist on the scene says NYPD is sending in a climbing team to get the person out.” Bystanders said that cops did not see anyone so they believed the artist to be inside the tower, thus they would have to send a climbing team to get the person out. It is unclear at this time if that is how the stand-off ended.
Greenpoint residents have questioned if the extensive police presence was a good use of tax dollars. Christopher Werth tweeted, “I spoke with a lot of Greenpoint residents who were concerned (not to mention annoyed) at the large police response to this graffiti artist.” Werth went on to say that one of his neighbors said, “How much money are we spending on this?” Mojica also tweeted, “Your tax dollars at work!”
Gothamist reported that, “During a press conference to address the incident on Thursday afternoon, Wilson Aramboles, the commanding officer of the Emergency Service Unit, praised the officers for finding a “safe resolution” to the incident.”
Charges are still pending for the artist at this time.