Early this morning, around 12:30 a.m., actor-turned-performance artist Shia LaBeouf was arrested outside of the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, where his latest art piece called “He Will Not Divide Us” is staged. He was taken in under charges of misdemeanor assault and harassment.
The “participatory performance,” which LeBeouf created with two partners, began at 9 a.m. EST on January 20, a couple hours before President Donald Trump was inaugurated. According to the project’s website, “the public is invited to deliver the words ‘HE WILL NOT DIVIDE US’ into a camera mounted on a wall outside the museum…repeating the phrase as many times, and for as long as they wish.” It’s on 24/7, and will be live-streamed for the duration of Trump’s presidency.
According to police, LaBeouf and another man got into a verbal argument that turned physical. LaBeouf allegedly pulled off the man’s scarf, pushed him, and scratched his face in the process. Although reports are unclear as to what incited the interaction, the protest’s unofficial Twitter is claiming that the altercation was the result of anti-Semitic remarks made to LaBeouf, who is Jewish.
One video from the art installation shows LeBeouf asking how it’s “OK to be a Nazi out here.”
In a thirteen-second long video, tweeted out by the He Will Not Divide Us account, a man comes up to LaBeouf and says, “What’s Up?” while recording their interaction, followed by, “Hitler did nothing wrong.” Then LaBeouf shoves him and walks off. The video was tweeted with the caption “Shia LaBeouf Has Been arrested by NYPD, because of this video #HeWillNotDivideUS #FreeShia.” The 30-year-old actor was charged with misdemeanor assault and given a harassment violation, but he was not jailed.
The project’s website claims this mantra as “a show of resistance or insistence, opposition or optimism, guided by the spirit of each individual participant and the community.”
This is not LeBeouf’s first foray into performance art. Reported the New York Times:
In November 2015, Mr. LaBeouf arranged a three-day marathon of all of his movies at the Angelika Film Center in Manhattan. The next month, he set up shop in an art gallery in Liverpool, England, asking people to call him and “touch his soul.”
“After his release,” reported The New York Daily News, “LaBeouf got into a cab and yelled ‘he will not divide us’ out the window while pumping his fist into the air.”
— #HeWillNotDivideUs (@HWNDUS) January 26, 2017