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NYPD bags Takeshi Miyakawa and his 'I Love New York' artwork

May 22, 2012|By Chris Barton
  • Japanese-born visual artist and furniture designer Takeshi Miyakawa setting up a public art display in Brooklyn, N.Y.
Japanese-born visual artist and furniture designer Takeshi Miyakawa… (Associated Press )

Perhaps proving that nothing incites suspicion among New Yorkers quite like a public display of affection, artist and furniture designer Takeshi Miyakawa was placed under arrest this weekend for setting up illuminated "I Love New York" displays in a Brooklyn neighborhood.

The pieces consisted of a battery-powered flashlight stuffed into a plastic bag with the familiar "I Love NY" logo on it, which were then dangled from a wire in public spaces. The first piece was found dangling from a tree on Friday morning and reported by a caller as a suspicious package. As a result, the area was evacuated for two hours as the bomb squad investigated the bag.

Miyakawa was found on a ladder in the same neighborhood near a second piece early Saturday morning, where he had tied a similar bag to a lamppost. He was arrested and charged with two counts of reckless endangerment, two counts of "placing a false bomb or hazardous substance in the second degree," two counts of reckless endangerment and, for good measure, two more counts of second-degree criminal nuisance, the Associated Press reported.

The artist's friend, Louis Lim (who shot the above photograph), came to Miyakawa's defense. "The reason he did this was to lift people's spirits," Lim said. "He was simply trying to say that he loves the city and spread that attitude around."

While New York City is in the unique position of having every right to be a little bit jumpy about DIY public art of questionable provenance (the NYPD reportedly receives nearly 100 such reports on an average day), here's hoping that the charges against Miyakawa see a significant reduction.

"It's hard to understand why a light-up bag in a tree would be treated as an attempted terrorist act unless there's more to the story than has been reported in the press thus far," said New York Civil Liberties Union Executive Director Donna Lieberman. Until then, New Yorkers might be best advised to keep their civic pride to themselves -- as if that could ever happen.

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