RALEIGH, N.C. — There's no simple way, except in artistic terms perhaps, to explain the full depth of the irony, all the layers of meaning, when police were called to the scene of the fallen Barrel Dinosaur on Saturday night.
The dinosaur made of orange and white traffic barrels existed only because artist Joseph Carnevale himself was arrested this spring for making the now-famous Barrel Monster that briefly greeted motorists at a construction zone on Hillsborough Street.
A police officer saw the Hillsborough Street monster, and it was taken down within hours. Carnevale was eventually found and charged, but after a nationwide outpouring of support that included even the company that owned the butchered barrels, he worked out a deal for 50 hours of community service in exchange for a clean record.
So Saturday morning, he set up the truck-sized dinosaur on Hargett Street for SPARKcon, downtown Raleigh's celebration of arts and ideas, and then reported for duty, helping the organizers set up tents and mark a grid on Fayetteville Street for chalk artists.
In short, the new Barrel Dinosaur was so legit it was practically sponsored by the Wake County District Attorney's office. So when Carnevale, a 22-year-old junior majoring in history at N.C. State University, went home Saturday, the last thing on his mind was that there would be another scene with police. Let alone two sets of officers.
Sometime around 2 a.m., festival organizers said, the dino went down. They're not sure whether the culprit was human — there was at least one report of someone running from the scene — or the gusting wind. Either way, there it was, orange and white parts strewn across the pavement.
An off-duty police officer hired to provide overnight security got some help from a nearby bar and restaurant, and the group started trying to put the creature back on its feet. That's when someone called the police and reported someone was vandalizing the Barrel Dinosaur — a creation that only existed because the artist had been charged, essentially, with vandalism.
Then, on-duty police came to investigate and determined that a police officer was actually trying to re-erect the dinosaur — built only because another officer had found its cousin, the Barrel Monster, on Hillsborough Street.
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