Protests at the Whitney Over a Board Member Whose Company Sells Tear Gas

Visitors who arrived on the Whitney Museum of American Art on Friday evening to view the works on this yr’s politically tinged Biennial needed to go by a raucous demonstration that was not a part of the official programming.

About 200 folks squeezed into the Whitney’s foyer, within the ninth of a collection of weekly gatherings to protest a museum board member whose firm sells tear fuel that activists and the artwork publication Hyperallergic stated had been used on migrants on the Mexican border.

It was the newest episode in a chronic public debate — involving letters and pronouncements by museum staff and officers, students, artists and artwork critics — over the board member, Warren B. Kanders, and his firm, Safariland.

According to Hyperallergic, photographs confirmed tear fuel canisters marked with the corporate’s title at a web site the place the American authorities used tear fuel final fall to disperse tons of of migrants working towards a crossing that leads from Tijuana to San Diego.

Protesters exterior the museum and within the foyer on Friday evening beat drums, blew horns, chanted and brandished indicators like one which learn “Warren Kanders Must Go.” Some made it to an higher ground, the place a black banner was draped from the constructing, studying, “When We Breathe We Breathe Together.”

There was even a rolling set up that appeared customized made for the event, within the type of a five-foot-tall silver-colored cylinder on wheels replete with a wire pull ring and emblazoned with the phrases “tear fuel.”

An organizer with the group Decolonize This Place, which referred to as for the weekly protests, learn from a message to the Whitney’s president, Adam Weinberg, and its board of trustees demanding they take away Mr. Kanders from the board.

“We may have shut the museum down immediately,” the organizer, Amin Husain, shouted within the foyer. “But after 9 weeks of motion we provide the museum management a window to do the appropriate factor.”

Some protesters who made it to an higher ground draped a banner from the aspect of the museum.

Credit scoreAndrew White for The New York Times

The Whitney Museum declined to remark.

Ticket holders handed by, gazing quizzically. Some paused to hear or to simply accept copies of the message that Mr. Husain was studying from. One lady shook her head and waved a hand when provided a replica. Museum staff stood by and watched the protest, however didn’t attempt to cease it or to forestall anybody from getting into the foyer.

Last yr dozens of museum staff wrote a letter to specific their “outrage” over experiences that Safariland fuel had been used on the border. Mr. Kanders then wrote a letter saying he took satisfaction within the firm. He added that Safariland made tools, like physique armor, that helped shield folks and that it had no management over how its merchandise had been used.

In a letter, Mr. Weinberg stated that he revered “the appropriate to dissent.” But the Whitney, he added, is “before everything a museum” that “can’t proper all of the ills of an unjust world.”

Several artwork critics, teachers and others adopted with a letter calling for Mr. Kanders’s elimination. Last month about two-thirds of the 75 artists and collectives chosen for the Biennial additionally signed the letter.

One of the Biennial individuals, the London-based analysis company Forensic Architecture, entered as its exhibition a 10-minute video referred to as “Triple-Chaser” with Praxis Films, run by the filmmaker Laura Poitras, a couple of sort of tear fuel grenade manufactured by Safariland.

After about an hour within the museum foyer, the protesters filed out and commenced marching by way of the West Village, accompanied by a contingent of cops.

The roving demonstration halted on a tree-lined block exterior a red-brick townhouse that the protesters stated belonged to Mr. Kanders. Outside the residence, the chants continued. “Your time is up,” one lady shouted. Another lady burned a bundle of sage close to the house, as if to ritually cleanse the premises.

A person distributed fliers addressed to residents of the block “and everybody in New York City” that listed the deal with of the constructing stated to belong to Mr. Kanders and contended that his firm’s tear fuel had been used on migrants on the Mexican border, on Palestinians in Gaza and on protesters in Baltimore and Ferguson, Mo.

As rain arrived, the ranks of the group thinned, and shortly a closing chant went up: “We’ll be again.”

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