NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — Some artists got naked on Wall Street during a performance art piece — and then they got arrested.

Two men and a woman were arrested on charges of disorderly conduct Monday morning outside the New York Stock Exchange.

Artist Zefrey Throwell organized the 5-minute piece, which he said was a social critique of Wall Street and involved dozens of volunteers acting out the motions of people at work. He said it was a rehearsed performance “with the very specific aim of public education.”

“The arrests happened at the end of the performance after everyone had already put on their clothes on, oddly enough,” he said.

Throwell, a 35-year-old from Manhattan, said he had not intended to provoke any confrontation with the police.

“I have much bigger fish to fry, that being the financial institutions of the U.S. and the world,” he said.

Among those arrested was Eric Clinton Anderson, a 32-year-old painter and performance artist from Brooklyn who holds down a day job as a personal trainer. But on Monday, he was playing a janitor, armed with a broom and dustpan, outside the stock exchange’s heavily guarded front door.

“Somebody needs to clean up Wall Street,” he joked.

As part of the performance, Anderson said, he took off his clothes “in the most natural way that you can when you’re sweeping.”

Anderson said he was nude for a moment when a police officer told him to put his clothes back on, which he did without protest. Then, he said, more officers approached and sat him down on a bench with a couple of other actors.

“They were like, `What were you thinking? What is going on here?'” Anderson said. “They were confused.”

He said he was surprised when he was led away to a police station.

“I thought they’d just yell at us and call us weird,” he said.

Throwell said he witnessed the arrests. He said the encounter was calm but the timing was strange because the arrested people had already complied with police orders and had put their clothes back on.

Arrested along with Anderson were a Brooklyn man and a Queens woman, said police, who claimed they were creating a public disturbance. Anderson said he was given a court date this fall.

(TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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