A man was arrested on Sunday after he took advantage of an unmanned cherry picker and tagged the Grand Army Plaza arch with the words, "Bird God."
Police say the incident happened around noon yesterday, when Denis Shelagin, 36, took charge of the cherry picker, which was there because it was being used during the week for the Hanukkah menorah lighting ceremony. NYPD officers surrounded Shelagin and tried to get him to come down, but he was able to finish his tag before he was taken into custody. (He also reportedly couldn't figure out how to lower the cherry picker.)
Shelagin, who is from Washington, has been charged with making graffiti, criminal mischief and possession of graffiti instruments. Workers later tried to cover the graffiti with a giant blue tarp before Mayor de Blasio arrived for the lighting ceremony for the final night of Hanukkah.
"I'd give the hand style five out of ten stars," said Gothamist's resident graffiti expert Jake Dobkin. "He went to some effort on the serif lettering, and did manage to center the piece pretty well, which couldn't have been easy on a stolen cherry picker. But the fill isn't good and the individual letters aren't consistent." It's unclear whether "Bird God" was a specific reference or Shelagin's personal tag.
The Soldiers' and Sailors' Arch, which was completed in 1892, is dedicated "To the Defenders of the Union, 1861–1865." As one local who was particularly mad about the tag wrote, "What an asshole. Street art is cool but defacing historic monuments that are important to a community is a pretty massive fuck you to your neighborhood. And if he’s not even from Brooklyn that’s even worse."
So, long, Bird God: The graffiti was power washed from the monument this morning.