Abraham Lincoln may have been a firm believer in the people but, lately, the people of Bensonhurst are looking to rid their streets of some spray-painted images of Honest Abe. 62nd Precinct Captain Bill Taylor announced at a January 9 Community Board 11 meeting that he and his precinct were “closing in on” a suspect leaving his mark – and the mark of Abe — on the Bensonhurst community.
The suspect, described as a “male Hispanic wearing a blue hard hat and an orange vest with silver reflective stripes,” has been spray painting Abraham Lincoln’s head and face on subway stations and other private and public property alike for weeks.
“We’re really looking to get this guy,” said Taylor, stressing that, though dressed like one, “the suspect is not an MTA or transit worker.” Community board members wondered if this suspect is the same one responsible for the Beatles’ mantra, “All you need is love” popping up around town.
Taylor suggested the two “tags” may be by the same suspect.
According to CB 11 District Manager Marnee Elias-Pavia, it is unclear whether or not the suspect works freehand or uses a stencil but what is clear is the suspect’s message. According to CB 11, alongside each Abe, the suspect leaves the mark “AINC,” which, to their understanding, stands for “Art is Not a Crime.”
Elias-Pavia disagreed with the camouflaged marker’s message.
“If any work, no matter what you perceive as art, is put on a building that doesn’t belong to you, it is a crime,” she said, “and we want it fixed.”
While some residents were unaware of the presidential plight, others have seen the stamp as far afield as Mill Basin and Bergen Beach. One source saw an Abe scrawled across the Belt Parkway. Indeed, 22-year-old Queens resident Bridget Battaglia couldn’t believe her eyes passing through Brooklyn until the second time.
“The first time I saw it, I said to myself ‘I definitely didn’t just see that,” she said. “But the second time I said, ‘Wow, I have seen that before.’” Once Battaglia got a closer look, she noticed the detail.
“It’s good too,” she said in support of the marking she considers artwork. “But why Abe?”
Taylor told CB 11 that the suspect typically works from 9 p.m. through midnight.
“Please keep an eye out,” he stressed, adding that the cops have successfully acquired video surveillance and – as always – to say something if you see something.