A Vermont man locked in a bitter dispute with the town of Westford decided to take matters into his own “hand” in December — by erecting a giant statue of a middle finger for all to see, NBC 5 reported.
“I’m fed up and it was time to do something,” Ted Pelkey said, according to the station.
The statue is a large hunk of carved wood that looks like a hand flipping the bird. Pelkey placed it on a high pedestal so it could be seen from the road, and surrounded it with floodlights to keep it illuminated at night.
The sculpture cost him $4,000 and is made of a 700-pound block of pine, the Burlington Free Press reported. The unusual display comes amidst what Pelkey said was an ongoing dispute with the city over his plans to build a large garage and move his business to his property.
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“We’ve been trying to put a business there for the past 10 years,” Pelkey said, according to the Free Press. “It’s just never-ending. They’re railroading us really good.”
He wanted to move his recycling and repair business to the property to draw more business, but said the officials “don’t like us,” according to NBC 5.
Minutes from an earlier review board meeting showed that city officials discussed the project at length, and a board member said that “this development as proposed will cause the neighbors to suffer and reduce property values in the area.”
Pelkey said he hoped his middle finger statue would “get it through to the people in the town of Westford to have a really long look at the people who are running their town,” WCAX reported.
There’s not much anyone can do about it if they don’t like it. As far as government officials are concerned, the statue counts as free speech and public art.
“The Pelkeys can do what they like to exercise their free speech within the laws and regulations,” said Allison Hope, chair of the Westford selectboard, according to the Free Press.
The Vermont Agency of Transportation said the statue counted as public art and was allowed because it was not an advertisement, WCAX reported.
People on social media commented on the man’s finger statue, with some saying it was a valiant piece of protest and others saying it was in poor taste. In an editorial, the Caledonian Record said it gave the town credit for “making the appropriate read of Pelkey’s First Amendment rights.”
It’s not the first time someone has given a big middle finger to a town. Al Goldstein, the publisher of the defunct porn tabloid “Screw,” once placed an 11-foot tall raised middle finger in the backyard of his Pompano Beach, Fla., home, the Miami Herald reported. The finger was made out of molded Styrofoam and was a “prop he scored from the set of the ’90s sitcom, Spin City,” according to the paper.