On Monday, a large graffiti image of a snowman wearing glasses and a Superman “S” symbol, alongside the word “SNOWDEN,” appeared scrawled across the plywood window boards of the former used Mercedes dealership at the intersection of Flying Point Road, Hampton Road and Route 27 in Southampton. The building’s large, plate glass windows have been boarded up since they shattered during Superstorm Sandy back in October of 2012.
Former National Security Agency (NSA) technical contractor and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) employee Edward Snowden has been something of a folk hero to certain people since he leaked information to the press about top secret United States and British surveillance programs last month—and like Che Guevera and other rebels, this status has led graffiti artists to celebrate him through their illegal street art in public spaces around the world.
So, who painted the Hamptons’ Snowden graffiti? The tag below the picture reads “BAMN,” and it turns out this piece isn’t the first time someone using that name has commemorated a government whistle-blower. In November of 2011, Greenpointers.com featured a story about a large BAMN mural in Brooklyn’s McCarren Park, depicting famous U.S. Army soldier and whistle-blower Bradley Manning—who leaked thousands of classified military documents and videos to WikiLeaks in 2010. The image of Manning featured the word “Hero” written above his smiling face.
Discussing the graffiti with Greenpointers.com, an artist identifying himself as BAMN said, “What’s shocking to me is that whistle-blowing is considered treason. I support Manning and WikiLeaks wholeheartedly, but the mural was painted for the public. My only intention is to spark dialogue.”
BAMN is also an acronym for “By Any Means Necessary,” so it could be anyone. But if the Snowden graffiti is indeed painted by the same man, it appears he thought the Hamptons was a good place to send another message.
What do you think of his (or their?) statement?
Share your thoughts in the comments below, and keep an eye out for more on this story in the coming days as we try to track down BAMN for an interview of our own.