The red-and-white street sign posted near the Brooklyn Bridge–the one just below the NO STOPPING ANYTIME–looks legit until you stop and ponder its message: "Drone activity in progress." Wait. What?
OutFront digital producer Mark Joyella grabbed a photo of the sign and fired it off to the show team. Is this new? The NYPD's warning people of drones? When did this happen?
It didn't. The sign–one of a series of seemingly legit street signs posted around the city–is the work of a 28 year old Army veteran turned "radical art student" who told The New Yorker he worked with drones during two tours in Iraq, but was chilled by the idea of drones patrolling the skies here at home.
The sign got Erin Burnett thinking. "The strange thing is how easily we believed that sign about drone activity. Maybe we're conspiracy theorists. But it seemed to say something the world we live in. We were disturbed, but not, frankly, surprised that our government was watching us. Maybe we were just surprised they would tell us they were watching us."
Getting us–and you–thinking, of course, is what the provocative art project is all about:
Near each sign, they also stenciled a quote from a Founding Father, such as a warning from Ben Franklin that seems particularly apropos: “They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety.”
Erin put it this way in her commentary:
"The sign in Brooklyn made us confront how we'd feel if drones were watching us here at home. If the drones caught a terrorist, or a murderer, would we be okay with the drones then? Ten years after 9/11–and ten years after the Patriot Act–we're still debating how much of our freedom are we actually willing to give up to maintain American freedom."