Joke turns into calls for a hero

Detroit’s mayor says no thanks to RoboCop statue

By Billy Baker
Globe Staff / February 18, 2011

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What started last week when an Arlington man sent a joke on Twitter to the mayor of Detroit may end with the Motor City getting a statue of RoboCop.

The prankster behind it all has chosen to remain anonymous. His Twitter bio says he’s just some “random dude.’’ All he’ll reveal to the Globe is that he’s a 29-year-old IT professional named Mike.

In his tweet, Mike argued that the cyborg from the 1987 camp classic set in Detroit would be a great ambassador for the city. “Philadelphia has a statue of Rocky,’’ he wrote to Mayor Dave Bing, “and RoboCop would kick Rocky’s butt.’’

The quip went viral and inspired a campaign to make the statue a reality. In just six days, the website was able to surpass its fund-raising goal of $50,000 — raised mostly with small donations from more than 1,500 people — and now several sites have been offered as possible locations for the statue.

“There are no plans to erect a statue of RoboCop,’’ the mayor wrote in his reply to the tweet. “Thank you for the suggestion.’’

In e-mails to the Globe, Mike said he has personally apologized to Bing for wasting his time. He credits the mayor with using Twitter as a progressive way to connect with constituents, but says he himself is not so high on the social networking site.

“There was a time when I thought Twitter might be a useful tool for networking with other technologically savvy professionals — but eventually I realized it’s more fun to just tweet dumb jokes to make my friends laugh,’’ he wrote in an e-mail.

Though he initially regretted the chain of events kicked off by his tweet, Mike now says he has changed his mind as he’s watched the story change.

“It took me a few days to realize it, but this story is less about a RoboCop statue and more about the power of an innovative way to raise funds for anything,’’ he wrote in an e-mail, crediting the campaign with bringing attention to the power of “crowd funding.’’

In Boston, Mike says he has no suggestions for new statues but thinks the Bobby Orr erected last year needs to come down.

“The Bruins started losing playoff games the day that thing was dedicated,’’ he wrote.

Billy Baker can be reached at


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