Volume 75, Number 46 | April 5 - 11 2006

Villager photos by Bob Arihood

Graffitiing the Astor Pl. cube last Saturday, before being caught by police.

Kids graffiti Astor cube and get collared by police

By Alex Schmidt and Lincoln Anderson

Last Saturday at 6:30 p.m. a group of young people in their teens and early 20s covered the Astor Pl. cube, officially titled “Alamo,” with colorful graffiti, much of it chalk. According to Detective Theresa Farello, a police spokesperson, Parks Enforcement Patrol officers saw what was happening, called police and police responded, making seven arrests.

Three males were charged with graffiti and one male and three females were charged with disorderly conduct. Their ages ranged from 16 to 23 and the participants were white, Asian and Hispanic. Some passersby objected to the youngsters being arrested, at one point shouting, “Let them go!”

A 32-year-old man who gave his name as Guy and claimed to be a witness, said he had been driving by on Saturday when he saw the cube being covered.

“There was a whole bunch of kids, about 50 — in broad daylight,” he said. “There were kids holding kids up so they could write on top of it. I was kind of upset about it, because I really like this thing and they just put it back.” They also used a garbage can to stand on.

Guy surmised the tumult from a street fair happening nearby on Cooper Square may have given the kids some cover, at least for awhile, making it seem their act was possibly part of the fair.

A sampling of the graffiti in multicolored chalk said: “Long Live Kinky Sex,” “Lou Dobbs Is Evil” and “This Is The Revolution of Color.”

Carli Smith, a Parks Department spokesperson, said Parks is monitoring the weather and giving the structure a chance to dry before removing and reapplying the finish, which protects the black Acrolon paint beneath from graffiti damage. Because of the anti-graffiti coat, the paint was not affected in this attack.

Although the piece was repainted and refinished last November, each time the structure is damaged the outer coat will need to be completely removed and reapplied. Smith said that the entire process, from removing the finish to reopening the structure to the public, would take about one week once the weather is clear.

Paul Riley, Parks District 2 supervisor, said that in addition to chalk, a harder-to-remove oil-based marker was used on the cube. On Sunday, they used soap and water to wash off some sexually overt chalked images and language.

“Alamo,” by artist Tony Rosenthal, has stood at Astor Pl. since 1967. The 15-foot sculpture weighs more than a ton and was removed last year after it was found that the cube was no longer spinning and its base was rocking and unstable. An anticipated 60-day renovation turned into eight months after it was found that the cube was more deteriorated inside than previously thought.

Last Sunday afternoon, Sierra Mazzola, 15, a student at Essex St. Academy, was sitting on the cube’s base, smoking. Like the cube’s color, she was dressed all in black, contrasting with her fuchsia hair.

“I was kind of shocked,” she said of seeing the cube all colored. “I like it black.”

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