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Cardboard robot invades downtown Auburn, briefly

Its builder, meaning remain a mystery
By: Jon Schultz, Journal Staff Writer
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“Come at me bro!” A cardboard robot materialized in Downtown Auburn on Wednesday, standing about 10 feet tall with that confrontational Internet catchphrase written on a sign hanging from its neck. Made of more than a dozen corrugated containers of various shapes and sizes, it stood on the edge of the engraved pledge of allegiance at the foot of the American flag in Central Square on the corner of High Street and Lincoln Way. With a missile launcher made of pop cans on its right shoulder and a cardboard cannon on the left shoulder, it looked ready for battle. Or to be recycled. The city had no explanation. Neither did nearby shop owners. Or passers-by. What did it mean? “It’s in front of the flag, so there has to be some kind of a meaning, like it’s protecting our downtown streets,” said Bobby Graves, an Auburn resident who noticed it while waiting for his tires to be changed nearby. “Auburn seems like a very creative type of place. I have never seen anything like this. “They definitely picked the location for a reason.” Graves, a real estate agent, knows about location. Perhaps by coincidence, Graves was wearing an OBEY Clothing brand T-shirt, a company owned by prominent California street artist Shepard Fairley. Ace Dougherty, who works at Auburn Jewelry & Loan in the court, posited that it was Internet inspired. “There’s all kinds of things over the Internet … like that. The robot itself, ‘come at me bro,’” Dougherty said. “It’s probably just someone trying to get the younger crowd interested in coming around here. “I thought it was awesome.” Whatever it meant, it didn’t last for long, as it had been removed by noon. Who created the robot proved to be as much of a mystery as its meaning. “Some kids must have been here late last night or early this morning,” said Ron Solomon, owner of Auburn Jewelry & Loan. “Why they did it or what it is for, I’m kind of curious myself about that.” Solomon called it “creative,” but when asked how he felt about it being removed, he said it couldn’t have remained in Central Square forever. Dougherty wouldn’t have minded, though. “Honestly, if I could have, I would have kept it,” he said.