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Giant T (for Trump) replaces one that was torched on lawn

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NEW YORK (AP) — A huge red-white-and-blue letter T in tribute to Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump has risen on a lawn days after a slightly smaller one was torched there.

Artist Scott LoBaido knew he was being provocative when he erected the first 12-foot-high T on Trump supporter Sam Pirozzolo's lawn on Staten Island in May. But on Wednesday he was in shock over the arson attack last weekend.

"I'm a patriotic activist promoting Americanism all over the country," LoBaido declared as he stood by his 16-foot-high new letter, almost as tall as Pirozzolo's house.

Passing motorists honked and shouted their approval.

LoBaido said the original T was his response to harassment of Trump supporters, including signs with Trump's name being pulled from their lawns.

It's not the first time LoBaido's artworks have been defaced. Last year, a man was arrested on Staten Island for applying anti-Semitic and anti-government graffiti on the artist's American flags, which he's been painting on Veterans of Foreign Wars posts around the country.

LoBaido himself was arrested in 1999 for hurling horse manure at the Brooklyn Museum, protesting a show he deemed anti-Christian, with elephant dung applied to an image of Mary. In 2001, he was thrown out for displaying a painting of the museum director facing a pig's rump, ready to bite it.

For the T installation, he used latex paint on foam insulation, resting on a surviving wooden support that's charred black.

Investigators are trying to determine who sneaked up under cover of darkness and set fire to the original T on Sunday.

Pirozzolo, who was awakened at about 1 a.m. when a passing motorist knocked on his door to alert him about the fire, said he blames "pro-Hillary Clinton thugs."

As the Trump tribute went up in flames, he said, "the first thing that came to my mind was, 'Oh, my God, this is like the Ku Klux Klan burning a cross on my lawn, telling me that I have to shut up.'"

Instead, Pirozzolo and the artist set to work the next day, assembling another installation.

Pirozzolo said Trump called to thank them for their show of support. Pirozzolo's wife and two teenage kids listened in.

On Tuesday, hundreds of people appeared in the street after the new T went up, singing "God Bless America" and criticizing Clinton, the Democratic presidential nominee. A few Trump haters used a megaphone to shout insults.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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