The Story Behind Last Night’s Verizon Building 99% Projections


For many Occupy Wall Street Day of Action participants, the highlight of the evening was a series of “bat signal” pro-OWS messages projected on a building bearing Verizon’s name.

Yesterday, the Voice’s Steven Thrasher wrote about the series of Occupy Wall Street related messages on a building bearing Verizon’s name after our own Nick Pinto tweeted about the sighting near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge. Projected messages included “99%” “Mic Check,” “Occupy Earth” and “Love.”

While some have speculated that Communications Workers of America were behind the projections on the building, located at 375 Pearl St., a group of visual artists affiliated with OWS are the creators. And while many New Yorkers refer to the structure as “the Verizon Building,” it is not owned by the large communications company, but rather to a company called Sabey Data Centers, John Bonomo, director of media relations at Verizon told us in an e-mailed statement today.

At the OWS march, there was a strong presence of the members from the union CWA, which includes people who have been working without a contract at Verizon for some time. CWA’s solidarity with the OWS movement made the projection on the building bearing Verizon’s name all the more coincidental.

BoingBoing writer Xeni Jardin conducted an interview with Mark Read, who along with a group other artists and friends, created the signals using a 12,000 lumen projector worth $10K and Modul8 VJ mixing software.

Read, 45, told BoingBoing the idea to project the messages on the building, which is near the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, came up during an action coordination meeting. He spent the following two weeks devising a plan to execute the ambitious effort. The group secured a nearby apartment to set up the projection after putting up signs offering tenants money to rent out a unit for a few hours.

Denise Vega, a single mother of three living on the sixteenth floor, replied to Read’s ad. Once she found out what Read would be using her unit for, she refused to take his money.

Read explained:

She wouldn’t take my money. That was the day of the eviction of Zuccotti, the same day.

And she’d been listening to the news all day, she saw everything that had happened.

“I can’t charge you money, this is for the people,” she said.

She was born in the projects. She opened up her home to us.

She was in there tonight with her 3 daughters, 2 sisters. The NYPD started snooping around down on the ground while the projections were up, it was clear where we were projecting from, and inside it was festive.

“If they want to come up they’re gonna need a warrant!,” her family was saying. “If they ask us, well, we don’t know what they are talking about!” They were really brave and cool.

Bonomo said Verizon sold the building to a company named Taconic Partners in 2007 who then sold it to Sabey Data Centers, which maintains current ownership and operation management of the building. The sign on the building is not a name plate but rather an advertisement, Bonomo said.

“We do maintain a sign atop the building, but that is basically for advertising purposes. The sign could be atop any other noticable [sic] building in the city,” Bonomo said. He said that the company currently leases back a couple of floors where it has switching gear and it was never Verizon’s corporate headquarters.


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