May 20, 2019
And in New York City, activists staged another protest at the Whitney Museum Friday to demand the removal of Warren Kanders, CEO of tear gas manufacturer Safariland, from the museum’s board. The demonstration, which took place on the opening of the prestigious Biennial exhibition, capped off nine weeks of actions by a coalition of activist groups who called out Safariand’s role in suppressing popular movements, including in Standing Rock, Ferguson and Palestine, as well as the tear-gassing of migrant families at the border. Last month, 48 artists participating in the Biennial signed on to a letter demanding Warren’s removal from Whitney’s board. Some groups at Friday’s protest also challenged the role of cultural institutions in the gentrification of New York City. This is activist Betty Yu.
Betty Yu: “My name is Betty Yu, and I’m a co-founder of the Chinatown Art Brigade. And the reason why we’re here at the Whitney is we’re making the clear connection between war profiteers and profiteers of mass displacement. So, namely, the Whitney and the High Line behind me, when they opened up, a lot of galleries here in the meatpacking industry moved to Chinatown. We have a 120 galleries gentrifying Chinatown now, and they’re being used by these real estate developers—what we call the ‘real estate-industrial complex’—to pit newcomers and gentrifiers against longtime residents. And what they do is they’re the Trojan horses used to raise the real estate value, and then eventually will displace Chinatown tenants and residents.”