NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A Queens museum has closed a controversial anti-President Donald Trump public performance art project created by actor Shia LaBeouf and two collaborators.
The creators intended to run the HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US project for the duration of Donald Trump’s presidency.
However, the Museum of the Moving Image said the installation “deteriorated markedly” after LaBeouf was arrested on an assault charge following an alleged altercation outside the Astoria establishment.
“The installation created a serious and ongoing public safety hazard for the museum, its visitors, staff, local residents, and businesses,” the museum said in a statement. “The installation had become a flashpoint for violence and was disrupted from its original intent.”
LaBeouf and his collaborators, Nastja Säde Rönkkö and Luke Turner, said in a joint statement posted on the website that “The Museum of the Moving Image abandoned the project. The artists, however, have not.”
Supporters were disappointed by the museum’s decision.
“For the museum to back down like this and capitulate to a little bit of uncertainty or getting nervous is really sad,” one man who was a frequent participant told 1010 WINS’ Al Jones. “They made a statement by choosing to have this art installation and I think they should’ve stuck to their guns.
“I think it’s a bit of a cop out to take it away,” another man said.
The museum said it takes the safety of its visitors, staff and the community seriously.
“We are proud to have launched this engaging and thought-provoking digital art installation which was experienced by millions of online viewers worldwide,” the museum said. “Until public safety concerns overrode the intent of the installation, HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US generated an important conversation allowing interaction among people from many backgrounds and with different viewpoints. However, ending our engagement with the installation is the most prudent path forward to restore public safety to the museum, its visitors, staff, and the community.”
The project was launched on the day of Trump’s inauguration. A live camera streamed footage from outside the museum, where LaBeouf and other participants would chant and sing, “He will not divide us.”
Local residents complained to the local police precinct about noisy visitors and public urination, Jones reported.
The museum also said threats of violence and numerous arrests prompted police to be stationed near the exhibit 24/7.
On Jan. 26, police said LaBeouf pulled the scarf of an unidentified 25-year-old man outside the museum, allegedly scratching his face in the process. Police said he also pushed the man, who refused medical attention.