From afar, the craft-store stick-on eyes were barely visible. Up close, though, they rendered Greene’s monument almost comically alive.
Savannah officials seemed to acknowledge the effect, but they also tried to nip public reaction to it in the bud.
“It may look funny but harming our historic monuments and public property is no laughing matter,” city officials wrote. “In fact, it’s a crime.”
They then asked for anyone with information (... eyewitnesses?) to report tips to the Savannah Police Department.
City officials may have stirred up more than they had intended. In two days, the post has been shared nearly 13,000 times, and attracted comments from far beyond Savannah city limits. Most people poked fun at what they called an overreaction and said the result would surely be copycat “googly eye bandits.”
“So I’m not a part of this community or anything, but you guys do realize you just dared your entire city to googly eyes all of your monuments right?” a Facebook user named Greg Lamb wrote. “Just pick the eyes off and move on.”
Others couldn’t help chiming in with all sorts of googly eye-inspired puns.
“Who is Nathaniel Greene? Never mind. I’ll Googly him,” one person wrote.
“Don’t vandal-eyes,” another commented.
According to The Post’s John Kelly, Greene was born in 1742 to a Quaker family in Rhode Island, and became one of George Washington’s most trusted advisers. He was given land in Georgia for his service, and moved his family to the Mulberry Grove Plantation in 1783. Greene died of sunstroke while riding his horse in 1786.
A representative with the city of Savannah did not immediately respond to requests for comment Saturday.
Savannah police spokeswoman Bianca Johnson told BuzzFeed News authorities were reviewing surveillance footage and that the crime technically would be trespassing.
“If we didn’t do anything this thing could get out of hand,” Johnson told the news site. “We want people to understand we don’t want to see this kind of thing happening. They need to know they can’t go around doing whatever they want to our statues.”
As for the googly eyes?
“They didn’t do any damage,” Johnson told BuzzFeed News.