An 800-pound, nearly 11-foot-long steel sculpture of a bent and burned drug spoon was placed Friday in front of the Connecticut headquarters of drugmaker Purdue Pharma as part of an art protest against the opioid crisis. Artist Domenic Esposito and art gallery owner Fernando Alvarez placed the sculpture at the company's Stamford headquarters, at least temporarily. Police arrested Alvarez on a minor charge of obstructing free passage, and a city worker removed the spoon with a payloader and hauled it to a police evidence holding area, reports the AP. Several state and local governments are suing Purdue Pharma for allegedly using deceptive marketing to boost sales of its opioid painkiller OxyContin and downplaying the risks to doctors and patients. The company has been blamed for helping fuel addiction and opioid overdose deaths.
Purdue Pharma denies the allegations in the lawsuits. "We share the protesters' concern about the opioid crisis, and respect their right to peacefully express themselves," the company said in response to the sculpture. Esposito, of Westwood, Massachusetts, and his family have struggled with his brother's 14-year opioid addiction. He said his brother, Danny, who has been clean for the past four months, has nearly died and has been in and out of jail. He said the idea for the 4-foot-high sculpture, which includes a depiction of burned heroin on the spoon, came from his mother screaming several years ago that she found another bent spoon used by his brother. Spoons are used to "cook" the drugs into liquid form before putting them into syringes. "The spoon has always been an albatross for my family," Esposito said. "It's kind of an emotional symbol, a dark symbol for me."
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