A team of protesters hoping to draw attention to the opioid epidemic devised a publicity stun that led to the arrest of Fernando Luis Alvarez, an art gallery owner, on June 22.
Alvarez, who is loudly opposed to opioids and big pharma’s involvement in the crisis, decided to create an over-the-top sculpture to draw attention to the growing societal problem. He enlisted the assistance of Domenic Esposito, an artist based out of Boston, to create the masterpiece. The statue was specifically aimed at Purdue Pharma who manufacturers the opioids. The company has been the subject of several federal lawsuits due to their improper labeling of drugs like OxyContin and their failure to alert consumers about the risks of addiction to their drugs.
Upon completion, the statue weighed an incredible 800 pounds. Steel was melted and formed to create the giant image of a burnt and bent heroin spoon. The duo then arrived in front of Purdue Pharma on June 22 at 8:30 am and unloaded the sculpture. The team intended to bring shame to the company and elicit public outrage about the situation.
Shortly later, Purdue noticed the enormous statue and contact the police. Authorities arrived and attempted to ask the art gallery owner to remove his spoon statue from the property’s business. Alvarez allegedly refused to comply for over an hour before being arrested by police. He has been charged with interfering with police duties and obstruction of free passage. The artwork has been loaded off and stored as evidence with the police department.