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U.S. Open protesters charged with criminal trespass after disrupting match

Sayak Mukhopadhyay and Gregory Schwedock both are charged with criminal trespass. Mukhopadhyay is also charged with disorderly conduct.
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Two men have been charged after their protest at the U.S. Open disrupted a tennis match Thursday night, the New York Police Department said Friday.

One of the men glued his feet to the floor as part of the protest.

Sayak Mukhopadhyay, 50, of White Plains, New York, was charged with criminal trespass and disorderly conduct, and Gregory Schwedock, 35, of New York City, was charged with criminal trespass, an NYPD spokesperson said in a statement to NBC News Friday morning. 

At about 8:05 p.m. on Thursday, police were informed about "disorderly individuals" inside Arthur Ashe Stadium where the U.S. Open tennis tournament was taking place, the spokesperson said. 

“One individual had apparently glued his feet to the floor,” the spokesperson said in the statement. “Personnel from the Emergency Service Unit responded and were able to safely free the male and take him into custody.”

US Open Protester Glue
Police removed the protester after he glued his feet to the cement floor.Matthew Stockman / Getty Images

Police said the two men were arrested and charged on Thursday and were held at the 110 Precinct. 

Mukhopadhyay told NBC News he glued his feet to the ground to “achieve a significant and sustained disruption that’s going to make people stop and think that business as usual cannot continue.”

“There is no tennis on a dead planet. There is no art on a dead planet, everything that we take for granted as our way of life will cease to exist,” said Mukhopadhyay, who prefers to go by Shayok Mukhopadhyay.

The match between Coco Gauff, of the U.S., and Karolína Muchová, of Czechia, was delayed for nearly 50 minutes, the U.S. Tennis Association said. Both players took their seats during the delay and play resumed after the protesters were removed. 

Gauff won the match to advance to the final on Saturday, where she will face Aryna Sabalenka of Belarus.

Extinction Rebellion, an environmental activist group, took credit for the protest and used the slogan “no tennis on a dead planet” to call for an end to fossil fuels.

Mukhopadhyay said the group also urged governments, including the Biden administration, to stop approving fossil fuel projects.

“Our primary message is that we need to turn the ship around. The ship of fossil fuels has to stop,” he said.

There were four protesters in all, the U.S. Tennis Association said in a statement Thursday night. Three were removed and escorted out of the stadium while the fourth “affixed their bare feet to the floor of the seating bowl.”

Stacey Allaster, the tournament director, said in an interview that there was a group of environmental protesters in an upper area of the stadium.

“When security got there, they found that one of the protesters had physically glued themselves in their bare feet to the cement floor,” Allaster said.

Lindiwe Priscilla Krasin, 47, a climate activist who was one of the protesters, said the group was there to call attention to "the greatest tragedy in human history that we are facing right now."

“It’s only a matter of time before things get much worse. So I protested because I’m terrified,” she said.

Both Krasin and Mukhopadhyay cited recent hurricanes and the wildfires in Canada and on Maui as reasons to take urgent action.

“I understand the discomfort that the audience felt,” Krasin added. “But we can no longer feel comfortable at a time like this. We need the wake up calls.”

The protest at the tennis tournament follows several protests by environmental activist groups, including one where protesters recently blocked the route to the Burning Man festival in Nevada. Others have recently staged protests targeting famous works of art.