View this post on Instagram
Less than an hour after Banksy confirmed a new installation in South London, it vanished. But how is not a mystery. Two men were filmed taking down the traffic sign, which was covered in three planes that resembled military drones. The videos of two men taking bolt cutters to the stop sign were widely circulated on social media, with police already making arrests in the case.
This latest Banksy installation went up in the southeast district of Peckham, and while the elusive artist posted it to Instagram without a caption, it's largely believed to be a call for a ceasefire in Gaza. The artist has a long history in the region, with many of his iconic pieces going up in the West Bank, including his iconic girl holding a balloon.
As soon as Banksy posted the image, followers began commenting that it would soon be stolen. And, indeed, they were correct. The video shows one man holding a bicycle steady for another to climb on with bolt cutters. After prying the sign loose, they ran off. The stop sign was then swiftly replaced by the city as a matter of public safety.
“We said, ‘What are you doing?’ but no one really knew what to do, we sort of just watched it happen,” a witness told a local news outlet. “We were all a bit bemused, there was some honking of car horns. He ripped it off and ran across the road and ran away. He said nothing. He didn’t seem to care that much about the art itself.”
A day later, local police arrested a 20-year-old man in connection with the crime. According to authorities, he has been released on bail. A second arrest was made the next day, with authorities stating that the man is in his 40s without releasing further details.
The drone imagery in relation to the West Bank is not uncommon for Banksy. The BBC points out that similar imagery was used in the artist's 2017 Walled Off Hotel, which opened in Bethlehem with a view of the Separation Barrier. At the time, the artist released the following statement: “2017 marks a hundred years since the British took control of Palestine and helped kick start a century of confusion and conflict.”