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When it comes to the disturbing turn in the mystery behind the disappearance and likely beheading of Vox Pop’s Lady Liberty, owner Debi Ryan is of two minds.
“I honor their right to express themselves, I just wish they hadn’t stolen our stuff to do it,” Ryan said. An al−Qaeda−inspired YouTube video has surfaced in which a statue strikingly similar to the eight−foot one stolen from in front of Vox Pop was beheaded and bashed to bits.
No people are seen in the video, which was e−mailed to the Daily News and other media outlets July 7, but the message is quite clear.
In the video, a black−clad “terrorist” seen from the chest down saws off the head of the blindfolded statue. When the head doesn’t come off fast enough, the terrorist takes a hammer to it.
The carnage, reminiscent of the assassination of reporter Daniel Pearl and other al−Qaeda captives, was interspersed with the words “We don’t want your freedom” and “Death to America.”
Cops are currently trying to track down the video’s poster and to determine if it’s the same person who took the statue from the front of the libral−minded bookstore⁄coffee house on Cortelyou Road near Coney Island Avenue on the night of June 20.
Yet despite the anger Ryan and Vox Pop regulars felt at seeing the statue being destroyed, they acknowledge the vandal’s right to free expression.
“Vox Pop is about freedom of speech,” Ryan said. “[The vandal] has the right to voice their opinions. We just wish that they would have gone to one of our open mic nights instead, where we always have an open exchange of ideas.”
The statue of liberty has been a fixture in front of the store ever since Vox Pop opened in 2003.
Ryan said it was refurbished and made more environmentally friendly −− a “solar torch” was added to the statue to light people’s way −− shortly before an unpatriotic pair was seen ripping it from Ryan’s front garden.
Ryan said that Vox Pop has received an outpouring of support from it’s neighbors, other Brooklynites and city residents since it’s disappearance and apparent decapitation.
They have also received their fair share of accusatory glances by people who think the theft was an inside job to promote Vox Pop, which almost closed earlier this year when it couldn’t pay over $30,000 in fines and violations from the Department of Health.
Ryan ultimately managed to balance the books by making Vox Pop a “cooperative” in which customers could become shareholders.
“Anyone who knows me knows that I would never do something like this,” said Ryan, adding that “a lot of finger pointing” has come with all the support.
As of this writing, employees of the West Village restaurant One if by Land, Two if by Sea were to donate their special Lady — a twin sister of the one taken — to Vox Pop. Several other businesses have made similar offers. Ryan said she wasn’t sure if Vox Pop would accept the statue.
©2009 Community Newspaper Group
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