We are taking over the Whitney Museum of American Art today to protest WARREN KANDERS, vice chairman of the board of trustees of the Whitney, who owns and is invested in multiple companies that supply weapons to the Israeli military and is directly profiting from the mass murder of Palestinians in Gaza and oppressed people all over the world.
Kanders made his $700 million fortune through a vast portfolio of arms manufacturers as CEO and owner of Safariland Group and chairman of the board of Clarus Corporation. Both Safariland and Clarus supply the tear gas, sponge bullets and ammunition to the Israeli military that have been used to murder, wound and maim Palestinian protesters fighting for their liberation and return. Beyond Israel, both companies provide weapons to US law enforcement agencies and the US military through multiple subsidiaries.
In the past year over 270 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed by Israeli snipers while taking part in the Great March of Return, including women, children, disabled people, medics and journalists. More than 25,000 Palestinians have been wounded by tear gas and "non-lethal ammo."
In November 2018, a group of Central American asylum seekers made up mostly of women and children were fired upon with tear gas by US border patrol agents on the Mexico/US border. Shortly afterward, news reports revealed that the tear gas that was used to attack the migrant caravan on the border was manufactured by Safariland. In response, nearly 100 staff members at the Whitney published an open letter in which they criticized the museum's complicity in white supremacy and state violence and laid out a series of demands, including Kanders's removal from the board.
Last month, Decolonize This Place launched 9 Weeks of Art and Action alongside 30+ other grassroots groups to uplift the demands laid out by the Whitney staff and put pressure on the museum to remove Kanders. Every week, DTP and its collaborators have been taking over the Whitney and mapping out the reach of Safariland's weapons around the world and the people’s struggles resisting them.
For us, artistic expression is a field of struggle that cannot be divorced from the political. We reject the normalization of Zionism in cultural institutions, just as we uplift anti-colonial art and expression. It is in this spirit that Palestinian dabke (folk dance), tatreez (traditional embroidery), music and oral history are all part of our cultural resistance to zionist settler colonialism. Through reclaiming and practicing our culture, we are revitalizing the revolutionary spirit of the Palestinian diaspora to complement the resistance in Palestine in pursuit of a free homeland. Grounding ourselves in Palestinian culture teaches us to emphasize solidarity and collective life and cast a wide net into Palestinian society to develop youth and students into political leaders in our community. As we continue to build the movement for Palestinian liberation and return in Brooklyn and throughout NYC, Warren Kanders continues to make millions off of the murder of our people and the destruction of our homeland. But his days of finding refuge at the Whitney to artwash his money soaked in the blood of Palestinian martyrs are over! Now is the time for the Whitney to act and remove Kanders from the board.
From Standing Rock to Ferguson to Palestine, there is blood on Kanders's hands. As a Palestinian-led community organization in NYC, Within Our Lifetime is centering Palestine during Week 5 of DTP’s 9 Weeks of Art and Action because we recognize the unity of our struggles and the power in our numbers. This is why we fight together. And this is why we are taking over the Whitney today to demand the removal of Warren Kanders from the board!
THERE IS NO SAFE SPACE FOR PROFITEERS OF STATE VIOLENCE!
THERE IS NO SAFE SPACE FOR PROFITEERS OF ISRAELI TERRORISM!
WARREN KANDERS MUST GO!
To learn more about Decolonize This Place’s 9 Weeks of Art and Action and find out to get involved, follow Decolonize This Place on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
#freepalestine #withinourlifetime #decolonizethisplace #warrenkandersmustgo