Last month, ANIMAL and advocacy group Stamp Stampede staged a stunt in which we took a projector-equipped van and displayed propaganda messages at various New York City locations–including onto the home of Mayor Michael Bloomberg. We dealt with the NYPD at the time, but after showing up at the homes of two ANIMAL staffers and asking a few questions, they mostly left us alone.
Now, Charles Lenchner, an affiliate of Stamp Stampede and the man was operating the van that night, has been arrested for driving on a suspended license. In itself, it’s not a noteworthy charge–Lenchner’s license was indeed suspended–but the arresting officer was detective Mohammad Newaz of the Intelligence Division, the same man who led the initial investigation into our projection stunt.
Lenchner speculates as to the reasons for his arrest, and the bizarre coincidence at its center, in a blog post at the Daily Kos:
– Was I or the van being tracked closely by police from the Intelligence Division because of our one minute projection on Mayor Bloomberg’s home?
–If so, where they tracking it for a whole month, or did they wait until my license was suspended (this happened in that last few weeks!) so they could lie in wait for me?
– Is there any justification for the massive expenditure of resources on ‘The Case of the Project-O-Van’?
– Was I and/or the vehicle targeted because of the relationship to Occupy Wall Street?
– Why did the police choose to arrest me and send me to booking, given my profile? (Employed, stable residence, no prior arrests in NYC, living with my family, etc.) Was that decision influenced by my political activism?
The Occupy Wall Street affiliation he mentions is through the van itself, which was formerly known as the Illuminator and operated by Occupy, and the “massive expenditure of resources” refers to “two officers” who were reportedly sent to Ithaca to investigate the van’s ownership.
It’s unclear whether there’s any concrete, causal connection between the Bloomberg prank and Lenchner’s arrest, but if Newaz’s involvement is a coincidence, it’s a strange one.
Watch our original video of the stunt below: