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One of Essam Attia’s drone posters (image via

The New York Daily News reports that Essam Attia, the street artist behind the spy-drone PSA posters that popped up around the city last summer, has been arrested by the New York Police Department.

Attia’s satirical posters painted a picture of a dystopian future that sees the NYPD using drones to survey citizens and bomb illegal immigrants. Given that the police already picked him up … well, that might be more than a hint that drones are a bit of a sensitive issue for the cops.

The artist, who goes by the not-so-anonymous moniker of Essam, was charged with “56 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny, possession of stolen property, and weapons possession,” though one wonders if the provocative content of the posters had something to do with his arrest.

The Huffington Post notes that the artist served as a geo-spatial analyst in the US Army, an experience that probably informed his posters, which take the silhouetted graphic language of city government announcements and twists it. One poster is topped with an ominous, staring face, the words “Always Watching” emblazoned next to it.

It sounds like Shepard Fairey could learn a little bit about being topical from Attia, though Attia needs a lesson or two in evading the police. He’s being held at a bail of a $10,000 bond or $2,500 cash and is due back in court December 3.

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Kyle Chayka

Kyle Chayka was senior editor at Hyperallergic. He is a cultural critic based in Brooklyn and has contributed to publications including ARTINFO, ARTnews, Modern Painters, LA Weekly,...

13 replies on “Street Artist Behind NYC Drone Posters Arrested”

    1. Likely yes, if he gets a competent lawyer who can argue this angle. Still, he’s being hassled and ripped off. How is justice served by bringing him into the system? It’s not, it’s just NYPD acting like children.

      1. NYPD acts illegally as an inteliigence agency anywhere USA since the 60’s. Handschu is not child’s play..

  1. Topical? No, Shepherd Felon could use a few lessons in not stealing other peoples’ work and not using the original work of artists (often of color) that depict cultural figures (often of color) to make the vapid, essentially meaningless (though technically amazing) work he sells to rich and middle class (and usually white) collectors, museum collections, and with his clothing lines suburban and urban kids.

  2. Questions:
    1) What specific CRIME did this guy commit?
    2) Since when does the NYPD put so many resources into arresting an artist/political statement maker?
    3) I drew a funny picture of Barack Hussein Obankster sucking a lollipop, will *I* be arrested too?
    4) When exactly was it that the USA became NAZI GERMANY?
    5) Do any of you morons realize what this arrest means for freedom of speech & civil liberties?
    …I didn’t think so either….

    1. 1) The charges are listed in the article.
      2) Since the artist was specifically embarrassing them.
      3) Probably not, unless it included something that suggested violence against the POTUS.
      4) Since I haven’t received my armband, and my family isn’t in a camp I’m going to say “in the future if ever”

      5) Who are you calling a moron? You’re the one asking the easy questions.

  3. You can’t paint a poster wall unless you own it or are willing to accept the responsibilities. I like this as much as the next guy but I don’t understand why the commenters complain this way.

    1. It’s true, graffiti is still a destruction of private property, no matter how great it is or what message it has to say. If you get caught, you can pay the price. Many others have.

    2. OK then charge him with vandalism. Not “56 counts of criminal possession of a forged instrument, grand larceny, possession of stolen property, and weapons possession,”

  4. Then, a Mighty Angel picked up a boulder shaped like a huge Mill Stone, and threw it into the

    Atlantic Ocean,

    and cried mightily with a loud voice saying!!

    Just as I have thrown away this stone, the great city of Babylon will be thrown down with violence , and shall never be found again!!!

    The Book Of Revelation, Chapter 18 verse 21

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