Shia LaBeouf has been released from custody and has returned to the site of his performance art project following his arrest late Wednesday night. According to reports, the actor was handcuffed and led away by police after an altercation with a man holding differing political beliefs.
The actor has engaged in a widely publicized political art project titled He Will Not Divide Us. Running since the inauguration of Donald Trump on 20th January, the project involved a live stream video feed from outside the Museum of the Moving Image in Queens, New York. According to project organizers, the stream will run 24/7 for the entirety of Trump’s presidential term.
A photo posted by HEWILLNOTDIVIDE.US (@hewillnotdivideus) on
While the project title can easily be interpreted as an anti-Trump protest, speaking to the Associated Press, LaBeouf explains that the project is about more than that.
“We’re anti-division out here. Everyone’s invited. Just be nice! That’s the only requirement. Be nice! That’s all I ask. Be nice. Pro this, pro that. Cool. But be nice.”
Although details of the altercation remain unclear, it is believed LaBeouf made the statement on camera shortly before another man addressed the camera with the statement “Hitler did nothing wrong”. LaBeouf reportedly pushed the man out of frame, with some accounts suggesting the actor pulled off the mans scarf, scratching his face in the process.
Video posted on the project’s Twitter account purports to show the confrontation.
Despite receiving considerable support from celebrities such as Jaden Smith, the project has also found itself a target for Trump allies and supporters of the white supremacist movement. The most notable incident involved a man wearing a Nazi era cap approaching the camera and whispering “14 88”, a code word popular with neo-Nazis essentially meaning “We must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children” while also referencing Hitler. In response, LaBeouf is reported to have chest bumped the man out of frame.
While many have been quick to label the incidents as a “meltdown,” referencing LaBeouf’s unusual behavior in the past, it is believed the incidents may have struck a chord with his Jewish heritage.
Shia a Jewish man got arrested because he was defending himself against a neo-nazi, who was verbally attacking him. #FreeShia— #HeWillNotDivideUs (@HWNDUS) January 26, 2017
we are really living in a society now that arrests a jewish man for non violently trying to silence nazis who are antagonizing him #freeshia— #HeWillNotDivideUs (@HWNDUS) January 26, 2017
It has been reported that Trump supporters and allies of the white supremacy movement have been congregating in forums on the website 4chan, popular for allowing posters to remain anonymous. While the majority of the plans made on the site have failed to materialize, some individuals have gone a step further and taken action in person.
There have been several instances of people ordering mass amounts of food to the project, with no one left to pay. Perhaps the most notable incidents involve protesters arriving at the site dressed in “Make America Great Again” caps and various other pro-Trump gear, while one group of mask-wearing men cut up a stuffed animal in full view of the feed.
On the flipside, many on social media are speaking out about what they claim are serious allegations of assault by LaBeouf and his supporters. Originally created in support of the project, the HWNDU hashtag has been hijacked with messages condemning LaBeouf and his movement. With this much controversy in the first week of the live stream, it is unclear what the next four years will hold.
Shia LeBeouf faces a misdemeanor assault charge and is scheduled to appear in court on April 4.
Live stream of the project can be viewed here.
[Featured Image by Evan Agostini/AP Images]