In Portland, Maine, there is no law against dressing up as a tree. But it is illegal to block traffic as one, apparently.
On Monday, Asher A. Woodworth draped himself in evergreen branches and sauntered into a busy intersection in the city’s downtown. Braving afternoon traffic, the 30-year-old Portland native slowly crept through the crosswalk, his face and body obscured by layers of plush green boughs.
Performance art? An early Halloween costume? Some sort of social experiment? Not clear. But confused passersby were quick to take notice.
It didn’t take long for police to arrive. Video posted to Twitter by a WCSH-TV editor shows two officers trying to coax Woodworth out of the intersection.
“All right, get out of the road, or you’re going to get arrested,” one officer says.
As Woodworth inches onto the sidewalk, another says, “Keep going, buddy, you’re almost there.”
When they finally got him onto the curb, they let him off with a warning.
“I’ll accept your silence as you understand. You’re free to go,” one officer can be heard saying.
Moments later, though, Woodworth wandered back into the street. At that point, police arrested him, according to the Portland Press-Herald. Woodwoth was booked on a charge of obstructing a public way, a low-level misdemeanor, and later freed on a $60 bail. It was not clear if he had retained an attorney or entered a plea Monday.
The meaning of Woodworth’s unique demonstration remains a mystery. He could not be reached for comment Monday, and local reporters said he would not speak with them.
A friend told CBS that Woodworth was studying traffic patterns. But Woodworth gave police a different account, according to the Press-Herald.
“His motivation was to see how people would react to what he called his ‘performance’ and how he might impact ‘people’s natural choreography,’ ” Assistant Police Chief Vern Malloch told the paper.
“It happens from time to time,” Malloch said. “People do bizarre things because they want to get arrested. We’re still not sure if he was trying to make a statement.”
At least it was not a clown costume.
More from Morning Mix