Transformers might be one of the most beloved science-fiction franchises around today, and fans have gone to some pretty creative lengths to share their love for the roster of robot characters. Recently, one fan of the franchise chose to express his devotion in an unconventional way -- and he seems to be caught up in a local snafu in the process. According to a new report from dcist, Newton Howard of Georgetown, DC came under fire with his local neighborhood commission, after they unanimously rejected his permit request to allow for two massive Transformers-themed sculptures to sit outside his home. The sculptures, which are of Optimus Prime and Bumblebee, have since become a local phenomenon -- for both good and bad reasons.
The report reveals that Howard placed the statues -- which weigh over two tons and were created by a friend -- outside of his house in January. Howard had believed the sculptures' location outside of his front door would allow him to display them outside without conflict, only for the city to claim that he needed a public space permit, as they just narrowly exist outside of his property line.
Howard reportedly did submit a public space permit for the Transformers sculptures, which would need to be approved by the Old Georgetown Board as well as the city itself.
“It’s one of those funny things that people think it’s their own property but it’s actually public space. It can be a challenging process to decipher,” Georgetown resident and commissioner Lisa Palmer explains in the report. “It needs to be reviewed by the Old Georgetown Board. Procedurally this did not happen in the right order.”
“What’s to stop someone from putting up a statue of Joseph Stalin and saying well this is provocative, it’s art, it speaks to me,” Luke Russert, a neighbor of Howard's, added. “They are a nuisance, they are an eyesore and they detract from the spirit of the neighborhood. I think a lot of us were perplexed how quickly they went up.”
Luckily, these Transformers statues aren't the only ones that Howard owns, as he apparently has a second pair inside his house. Still, Howard still plans to keep the sculptures outside for the time being -- and plans to go to greater lengths to keep them there.
“They bring joy to children and other people in this rough time of people being cooped in their house,” he says. “I’m going to fight for them because it really fundamentally hits me at the freedom of expression nexus.”
“I will take it to the next level and fight it in court,” he says. “I believe they are not doing any harm. They are bringing joy.”
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