This video from the USA says about itself:
Protesters Target Bank Backing DAPL Pipeline
15 December 2016
This video from the USA says about itself:
Protesters Target Bank Backing DAPL Pipeline
15 December 2016
By Mark Witkowski and Philip Guelpa in the USA:
14 December 2016
The militarized police apparatus of the New York Police Department (NYPD) is making its presence felt in no uncertain terms on New York’s Fifth Avenue at Trump Tower, where Donald Trump, the billionaire mogul, is holding court as he prepares to assume the presidency in January.
Police wearing body armor and toting high-powered, military-grade rifles stand at the entrance to Trump Tower and on nearby side streets. Dozens of uniformed and plainclothes officers are nearby. Dump trucks loaded with sand act as movable barriers to bar motor vehicles from accessing East 56th Street, which is where the service and private entrances to Trump Tower are located. Access to the entire East 56th Street block between Fifth and Madison Avenues has been effectively shut down, causing economic hardship for businesses and restaurants, with police turning away all but a few who attempt to enter.
Trump’s private residence is located in one of the most densely populated areas of the largest city in the United States. Trump Tower lies in close proximity to the private residences of some of the wealthiest individuals in the US, including those on so called “billionaires row,” a cluster of extremely tall residential towers located on West 57th Street just south of Central Park. The area is also home to the headquarters of a number of banks, investment firms and national media. In addition, it ranks among the world’s most expensive shopping districts, home to upscale retailers including Bergdorf-Goodman, Cartier and Tiffany and Co.
A member of the City Council, Dan Garodnick, recently wrote a letter to the police commissioner complaining about the impact of the hyper-security. He told the Daily News, “It looks like a war zone out there and is completely uninviting. The small businesses are getting pummeled.”
During recent protests, police helicopters, presumably using high-powered surveillance equipment to photograph protesters and give direction to officers on the ground, hovered above the skyscrapers in the vicinity.
Militarized SWAT and other heavily armed police tactical units have become a common sight on the streets of New York in recent years, particularly around major transportation hubs and in the busy theater district, and often appear at random locations. Their presence is clearly meant to be intimidating and many city residents feel it is.
One can imagine the devastating consequences were their military-grade weaponry to be used in such a crowded and confined urban arena as the streets and public spaces of Midtown Manhattan. Trump Tower became the target of protests following the election, and is likely to remain so as the impact of the Trump presidency on the working class unfolds, making clashes with police increasingly probable.
The unprecedented mobilization of security forces has come at a great expense to the city. CNN Money has reported the cost to NYC taxpayers for policing Trump Tower in the aftermath of the election at “more than $1 million a day.”
Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has requested that the city be reimbursed by the federal government for a total of $35 million, representing the extra expenses it has incurred in providing security for Trump between his election and the inauguration on 20 January. The stopgap spending bill just passed by Congress reportedly includes some money to reimburse the city. Last week, House Republicans approved only $7 million, but the amount included in the final version passed by the Senate has not yet been revealed.
In a city where over 60,000 people, a large portion of them children, spend each night in decrepit homeless shelters, and many thousands live on the streets, this huge outlay of public funds stands in sharp contrast to the grossly inadequate support given to city services such as education, public housing and transportation, for which there is supposedly never enough money.
It is likely that the provision of security and the incumbent expenses will continue following the inauguration. Trump’s wife Melania and son Barron reportedly plan to continue to live at Trump Tower, at least for the rest of the school year. Beyond that, Trump is unlikely to abandon his $90 million penthouse triplex pied-a-terre in the city.
The New York Post reports that the Secret Service, the federal agency responsible for providing presidential security, is negotiating to lease two floors of Trump Tower to house a security headquarters staffed with 250 agents and police.
Since Trump owns the building, in effect the federal government would be paying rent, estimated to be at least $3 million per year, to the president–yet one more example of conflict of interest between Trump’s business interests and his role as president. This payment would be a welcome infusion of cash for a building where rent and sale prices for residential units have fallen 40 percent in the past year, as wealthy residents flee the commotion caused by Trump’s presence.
Despite the tremendous burden on the city’s budget, the Democratic mayor has demonstrated his willingness to accommodate Trump. In a statement to the press, de Blasio said, “The number one imperative here is safety and security. We owe that to the president-elect, his family, and his team.” De Blasio, along with other Democrats, has expressed his intent to work with the Trump administration. He has stated, “…my job is to be respectful and seek dialogue,” referring to a phone conversation he had with Trump.
The many New York residents turning out to protest apparently do not share the mayor’s magnanimous feelings. One Verizon worker the WSWS spoke to who lives in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx expressed frustration at being stuck for a long period of time on a bus on Madison Avenue while heading home after work. Police had herded protesters away from Trump Tower onto the Avenue, making it impassable.
Fifth Avenue is used by a number of express and local bus routes which transport working New Yorkers to their jobs in the city’s core. Since the heighted security began around the tower immeasurable hours have been added to the commute time of thousands of people.
In addition to the overblown security measures around Trump Tower, there is a general stepped up police deployment in Manhattan. Some city residents have said the police presence feels like an occupying force. In one recent incident, at the height of rush hour, tens of thousands of bus and automobile commuters were delayed at the Lincoln Tunnel to allow Trump’s vehicle to pass through en route to New Jersey, severely exacerbating the already intolerably long wait.
The fact that militarized police units are routinely seen on the streets of New York speaks volumes regarding class relations in one of the most socially and economically unequal cities in the world. The spectacle around Trump Tower underscores in dramatic, if not absurd, fashion the sharpening class antagonisms under capitalism. It expresses, on the one hand, the utter arrogance and sense of entitlement of the American ruling class, and, on the other, their awareness of the extreme danger to their interests generated by ever-growing social and economic inequality.
This video from New York City in the USA says about itself:
NYPD Sergeant Shot And Killed A 66 Year Old Woman Ms Deborah Danner
19 October 2016
Protesters gathered Wednesday night after Deborah Danner was killed by a New York police sergeant on Tuesday in her Bronx apartment: here.
Four years before she was killed, Deborah Danner wrote an essay referencing the mortal dangers the mentally ill face when dealing with police: here.
NYPD sergeant kills Deborah Danner, a black woman who neighbors say was mentally ill: here.
By Fred Mazelis in the USA:
Police killing of mentally ill 66-year-old Bronx, New York woman sparks outrage
21 October 2016
Protests and widespread outrage followed the police murder of Deborah Danner, an elderly woman afflicted with schizophrenia, on Tuesday, October 18 in the New York City borough of the Bronx.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, newly installed Police Commissioner James O’Neill and other officials, moving to appease public anger, quickly called the killing “unacceptable.” New York Police Department (NYPD) Sergeant Hugh Barry was stripped of his gun and badge and placed on modified duty pending an investigation. The case is being sent to the office of the Bronx District Attorney, Darcel Clark.
Barry and other cops arrived at the apartment building in which Ms. Danner lived at about 6 p.m. on October 18, in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx, after neighbors reported a problem. One neighbor told the local press that the police had been there many times before, without any difficulty in assisting Danner. This time she was holding a scissors, which she was reportedly convinced to put down, but then she picked up a baseball bat. Barry, 30 years old and an eight-year veteran of the NYPD, discharged two shots from his service revolver, killing the elderly woman. Barry was equipped with a Taser, but did not use it.
“It is hard to imagine why five police officers and a patrol sergeant would need to use deadly force to disarm an elderly woman with a baseball bat,” declared Donna Lieberman, executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union.
Ms. Danner’s neighbors, well aware of her medical problems, were angry over her death, and deeply skeptical that the promised investigation would result in anything more than the usual whitewash of epidemic police abuse and violence directed against the poorest and most vulnerable sections of the working class. Scores of people marched to the 43rd police precinct to protest on Tuesday night, blocking traffic on nearby streets.
The mayor said, “Deborah Danner should be alive right now, period.” He said the police had not followed protocol in dealing with emotionally disturbed people, a conclusion also voiced by Commissioner O’Neill. De Blasio and O’Neill said that Barry should have waited for a specially trained Emergency Service Unit of the NYPD to arrive.
Edward Mullins, president of the Sergeants Benevolent Association, representing Barry, denounced the statements of the mayor and police commissioner as “political expediency.” According to the report in the New York Times, Mullins said that Danner had swung the bat and that Barry was in fear for his life and those of others. He was also reported as saying, “Everyone agrees that this was a good shooting,” adding, “We could be sitting here talking about how a 66-year-old fractured his skull.”
A report in the New York Post revealed that Barry has been named in two lawsuits alleging brutal police beatings of African-American or Latino men. In one of them, 25-year-old Gregory Peters charged that Barry and other cops beat him with their fists, feet or batons in Times Square on August 22, 2010, and that the police displayed racial animus. The suit was settled for $25,000 in 2012.
The death of Ms. Danner was made all the more significant and disturbing by her own statements, in a six-page essay she wrote some four years ago, which she submitted to an attorney for the state’s Mental Hygiene Legal Service who was then representing her in a case involving legal guardianship. “We are all aware of the all too frequent news stories about the mentally ill who come up against law enforcement instead of mental health professionals and end up dead,” she wrote at that time, eloquently and also prophetically.
Official statistics put the number of calls for assistance in dealing with the emotionally disturbed in New York City at 128,000 so far in 2016. The huge and growing number is at least partly a reflection of social circumstances, both the hopelessness of the most impoverished and the abysmal shortage of adequate mental health treatment. New York City cops are supposed to receive training in dealing with the mentally ill, but officials acknowledged that only 4,400 out of the 36,000 officers on the New York force had received such instruction.
The killing of Deborah Danner recalled the death in almost identical circumstances of another elderly Bronx woman, Eleanor Bumpurs, 32 years ago. Police were called to the victim’s apartment in the west Bronx after she fell four months behind in her rent and reportedly resisted attempts to evict her. In that case also the cops claimed that they feared for their lives at the hands of a mentally ill woman in her late 60s. The fate of Eleanor Bumpurs provoked anger and protests not only in New York but elsewhere as well. The police officer who was eventually charged with manslaughter was acquitted in 1987.
The rich also have their share of the emotionally disturbed, but only very rarely are they reported as the victims of police shootings. It is not a matter of training, but of the role of the police force itself. It is the lives of the poorest sections of the working class, of all races, that are considered expendable by the capitalist state and its armed men.
This video from the USA says about itself:
CAIR-New York Urges Probe of Bias Motive for Stabbing Death of Muslim Woman in Queens
2 September 2016
From Daily Kos blog in the USA:
Nazma Khanam: Was Muslim Woman Stabbed to Death in NYC a Hate Crime Victim?
By Brett Wilkins
Saturday Sep 03, 2016 · 7:39 PM
Hundreds of mourners gathered Friday at the Jamaica Muslim Center, a mosque in Queens, New York, to pay their respects to Nazma Khanam, the 60-year-old Bangladeshi woman stabbed to death in front of her 75-year-old husband just steps from their home in Jamaica Hills on Wednesday night. As family, friends and others — the victim’s nephew is a NYPD transit officer and dozens of police attended the funeral — said their goodbyes to the former schoolteacher, many members of the Muslim community said they were convinced the stabbing was a hate crime.
Khanam’s death comes just weeks after beloved Queens imam Maulama Aknojee and his assistant Thara Uddin, both also originally from Bangladesh, were executed in broad daylight as they walked home from prayers at the Al-Furqan Jame Masjid mosque at 77th Street and Glemore Avenue. Oscar Morel, 35, of Brooklyn has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder — but not a hate crime — in connection with the killings.
NYPD officials said they had no leads in Khanam’s slaying as of Friday. Police are investigating whether the attack was an attempted robbery, although the victim’s relatives said nothing was stolen from her. NYPD investigators also initially believed the murders of Akonjee and Uddin were also attempted robberies. Neither man was robbed during or after the attack, although NYPD Deputy Inspector Henry Sautner said “there is nothing in the preliminary investigation that would indicate that they were targeted because of their faith” in the wake of the murders.
Investigators have been equally hesitant to speculate on whether Khanam’s murder was a hate crime. “Our best guess is it was a psycho,” a high-ranking police official told the New York Daily News on Friday. “He ran at her. There was no conversation. This is a hard one to explain.”
At Friday’s funeral, emotions ran high as speeches were interrupted by attendees chanting “we want justice!”
“This was not a robbery and though we do not know all the facts, the reality is this is happening too often,” public advocate Letitia James said to cheers.
In the same week as Akonjee and Uddin were murdered in Queens, 61-year-old Stanley Majors of Tulsa, Oklahoma was arrested and charged with first-degree murder after he shot and killed Khalid Jabara, 37, who was originally from Lebanon. Majors had allegedly harassed the Jabara family for years, calling them “filthy Lebanese”, “dirty Arabs” and “Moo-slems.” The Jabaras are actually Christians.
“That’s four murders in less than a few weeks, let alone the numerous hate crimes and assaults that have taken place throughout this country and much of Europe,” Khalid Latin, the executive director and chaplain for the Islamic Center at the New York University and the chaplain at the NYPD, told the Guardian. “Anti-Muslim sentiment is at an all-time high, and we will continue to hear news like this until those who have the ability to speak up and out will start to do so both with words and actions.”
According to research by Georgetown University’s Bridge Initiative, which tracks and analyzes Islamophobia in the United States, there were more hate crimes targeting Muslims in 2015 than in any other year since the Islamist terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Some observers have noted that the increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes has coincided with the rise of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, who has called for a total ban on Muslim immigration and travel to the United States. Numerous individuals wanted or arrested for committing anti-Muslim and other anti-immigrant hate crimes have cited their support for Trump or even said his name during assaults.
“Our data suggests that acts and threats of anti-Muslim violence increased in 2015, and that it has escalated further during the presidential election season,” Engy Abdelkader, a member of the US State Department Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group and the author of a recent Bridge Initiative report titled “When Islamophobia Turns Violent: The 2016 US Presidential Elections,” told the Intercept.
Back in New York, NYPD officials released surveillance video of a person of interest in the Khanam slaying and are offering up to a $10,000 reward for information leading to the arrest of the killer.
Hundreds at New York mosque mourn woman murdered in ‘hate crime’. Nazma Khanam’s death comes just weeks after two men were shot in the back of the head after midday prayers, rocking the Queens Bangladeshi community: here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
7 June 2016
At key moments in history, artists have reached beyond galleries and museums, using their work as a call to action to create political and social change. For the past hundred years, the term agitprop, a combination of agitation and propaganda, has directly reflected the intent of this work.
Agitprop! connects contemporary art devoted to social change with historic moments in creative activism, highlighting activities that seek to motivate broad and diverse publics. Exploring the complexity, range, and impact of these artistic practices—including photography, film, prints, banners, street actions, songs, digital files, and web platforms—the exhibition expands over its run within a unique and dynamic framework. It opened with works by twenty contemporary artists responding to urgent issues of the day, in dialogue with five historical case studies. A second wave of contemporary work was added on February 17, 2016 and a third will be added on April 6, 2016—with each wave of artists choosing those in the next.
These projects highlight struggles for social justice since the turn of the twentieth century, from women’s suffrage and antilynching campaigns to contemporary demands for human rights, environmental advocacy, and protests against war, mass incarceration, and economic inequality.
The first round of invited artists includes Luis Camnitzer, Chto Delat?, Zhang Dali, Dyke Action Machine!, Friends of William Blake, Coco Fusco, Futurefarmers, Ganzeer, Gran Fury, Guerrilla Girls, Jenny Holzer, Los Angeles Poverty Department, Yoko Ono, Otabenga Jones & Associates, Martha Rosler, Sahmat Collective, Dread Scott, Adejoke Tugbiyele, Cecilia Vicuña and John Dugger, and, in a collaborative work, The Yes Men with Steve Lambert, CODEPINK, May First/People Link, Evil Twin, Improv Everywhere, and Not An Alternative, along with more than thirty writers, fifty advisers, and a thousand volunteer distributors.
The second round of artists includes Amnesty International and El Zeft, Jelili Atiku, David Brower and Jerry Mander, Nancy Buchanan, Interference Archive, Lady Pink, Marina Naprushkina, Not An Alternative, Occupy Museums, Shani Peters, Jenny Polak, Laurie Jo Reynolds, L.J. Roberts, Huang Rui, Inder Salim, Thenmozhi Soundararajan, Andrew Tider and Jeff Greenspan, and Ultra-red.
The third round of artists includes Andrea Bowers, Combat Paper (with Kevin Basl, Drew Cameron, and Nathan Lewis), Andy Dao and Ivan Cash, Song Dong, Enmedio, Faith47, Khushboo Gulati, The Illuminator, Marisa Morán Jahn (Studio REV-) and Yael Melamede (SALTY Features), Ato Malinda, Beatriz Santiago Muñoz, Pussy Riot, Rena Raedle and Vladan Jeremić, Manuela Ribadeneira, Visual AIDS (with Tania Anderson, Beverly Bland Boydston III, Jean Foos, Reina Gossett, Kia Labeija, Alice O’Malley, Morgan M. Page, Jamie Q, Elizabeth Marie Rivera, L.J. Roberts, Sue Schaffner, Sarinya Srisakul, and Jessica Whitbread), and Weird Allan Kaprow (Erin Charpentier, Zachary Gough, Travis Neel, and Sharita Towne). With an additional project by Alexander Dwinell, Noah Fischer, The Illuminator, Movement to Protect the People (MTOPP), Not An Alternative, Sarah Quinter of Mi Casa No Es Su Casa and Derecho a Techo, Antonio Serna of Color Bloc and Arts & Labor’s Alternative Economies Working Group, Ultra-red, and Betty Yu.
Agitprop! is organized by the staff of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art: Saisha Grayson, Assistant Curator; Catherine J. Morris, Sackler Family Curator; Stephanie Weissberg, Curatorial Assistant; and Jess Wilcox, former Programs Coordinator.
This exhibition is made possible in part by the Embrey Family Foundation, the Robert Rauschenberg Foundation, The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, the FUNd, and the Helene Zucker Seeman Memorial Exhibition Fund.
DECEMBER 11, 2015–AUGUST 7, 2016
By Clare Hurley in the USA:
“Political art” in New York City this summer
29 August 2016
Three exhibits in New York City this summer— Agitprop! at the Brooklyn Museum, Of The People at the Smack Mellon gallery, and Personal is Political is Personal at the 440 Gallery—offered a sample of what seems to be a proliferation of politically themed artwork, ranging from concerns about the upcoming presidential elections to broader issues of social conditions in the United States.
Indeed, after decades in which very few galleries showed “political” artwork, it has become the thing to do. In addition to the three shows here under review, For Freedoms turned Jack Shainman Gallery into an artist-run super-PAC for a month; CRG Gallery presented POTUS, a solo exhibition of Brian Tolle’s ironical sculptural depictions of US presidents going back to George Washington; and a group show, Art As Politics, at the Touchstone Gallery in Washington DC till August 25, included the work of more than 90 artists. Some of the more established artists and artist-collaboratives in these shows have worked in a political vein throughout their careers, but many more are relatively new to the scene.
It is welcome that so many visual artists are registering an awareness of today’s unprecedented level of social upheaval and political crisis in their work. It is unfortunate that as of yet much of the artwork is so unsatisfying. Despite the relative strength of some individual pieces, taken as a whole the artwork in these shows was hampered by simplistic political conceptions, inadequate aesthetic qualities, or both. The limitations are not entirely the fault of the individual artists. … Furthermore, there is a preponderance of gimmicks, performance pieces and “socially engaged” art practices, which often have little actual substance, and hardly any aesthetic component at all.
These qualities were particularly apparent in Agitprop! at the Brooklyn Museum (December 11, 2015–August 7, 2016), which as an institution has played a longstanding role in promoting the politics of race and gender, through its curation of shows such as Kehinde Wiley: A New Republic, among others. Organized by the staff of the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art, Agitprop! was installed in gallery spaces around that icon of feminist art, Judy Chicago’s 1979 The Dinner Party.
Agitprop! (short for Agitation-Propaganda, the term originally used for Soviet propaganda art), while including some work that sprang from the Russian Revolution, ran the gamut of radical protest movements of the 20th and 21st century, “from women’s suffrage and anti-lynching campaigns to contemporary demands for human rights, environmental advocacy, and protests against war, mass incarceration, and economic inequality.” Selected in three waves, with an initial group of 20 artists choosing a subsequent group, and then that group adding a third, the show came to include almost a hundred artists and collectives, and felt very much like a protest rally with everyone waving different placards. Groups like Amnesty International, CODEPINK and Occupy Museums have in fact been active in political demonstrations. Not surprisingly, posters, banners, videos and installations were predominant, with the overarching political message that collective, grassroots “communities” of color, gender, ethnicity, nationality, etc., are advocating for social change by making their voices heard and pressuring the political establishment.
The political outlook of these groups was exemplified by a wall-sized display by MTOPP, the Movement to Protect the People. It was self-described as “a group of women (tenants, homeowners, businesswomen) led by Alicia Boyd who have organized, educated, investigated and pushed back successfully against rezoning of Crown Heights/Flatbush for the past two years.” Colorful graphics described how the “Black Population of Brooklyn has declined by about 60,000 since 2000, displaced by the Agents of Gentrification – shown as cogs in a wheel – who are Real Estate, Politicians (including supposedly pro-affordable housing Mayor Bill de Blasio), the Department of City Planning, Police, Non-profits, and White Folks” …
The Brooklyn Museum itself was a target of MTOPP’s protests for hosting a forum for real estate developers last year and for what is seen as its role in the gentrification of the surrounding neighborhood. …
The limitations of the exhibition’s organizers, perhaps due to historical ignorance or political obliviousness, are indicated by their inclusion of the work of photographer Tina Modotti (1896-1942) without further explanation or comment. Some of Modotti’s photographs of Mexican workers and peasants are noteworthy, but more must be said.
Modotti arrived in Mexico in 1922 with her lover, the photographer Edward Weston, and became active in the left-wing bohemian circle of the Mexican muralists, many of them in and around the Mexican Communist Party. From 1924-28, she photographed Diego Rivera at work on his murals at the Secretariat of Public Education in Mexico City. … She was expelled from Mexico in 1930, traveling to Germany and then to Moscow. Her activities in Spain during the civil war … and her death in 1942 in a taxi on her way back from the poet Pablo Neruda’s home in Mexico City, remain the subject of some speculation.
Of the People
Of The People at the Smack Mellon gallery (June 18-July 31, 2016), curated by Erin Donnelly, focused on the “of-the-moment political opinions shaping the 2016 presidential race in the United States.” Including video, drawing, photography, painting and sculpture, as well as socially engaged projects and site-specific installation, the artwork again displayed relatively simple content in conceptually elaborate forms.
So there was site-specific wallpaper, Dark Money Damask (2016) by Lauren Frances Adams, which inserted phrases about the influence of big money into the pattern of traditional colonial wallpaper. A large corrugated sheet of steel rigged with speakers and audio, Line of Breath (2016), by Isabella Cruz-Chong, referenced the wall to be built between the US and Mexico.
Other pieces took up issues of privacy and state surveillance.
It was noteworthy that a few of the pieces attempted to give voice to the experiences and political opinions of ordinary people. Sheryl Oring’s piece I Wish to Say dominated the gallery space with a double-sided, 30-foot-long array of index cards strung on wires. The cards had been typed out by a team of interns on manual typewriters in Bryant Square Park behind the main public library in Manhattan. Oring, dressed in a red-white-and-blue “campaign” outfit, asked people what they would like to say to either the current president or the 2016 presidential candidates. Over the course of her 12-year project, Oring has mailed thousands of such letters to political figures.
But it is a well-known fact that the answer one gets depends on the way one asks the question, and most of the cards, replete with typos and jams from the old typewriters, had the quality of “Dear Santa” letters. Some wished that Obama could be president forever, or that Michelle could take over for him. Others thanked Hillary for running, and a few were addressed positively to Trump. Most hoped the next president would do his/her best to run the country.
A set of four photographs from a larger series by Brittany M. Powell were somewhat more successful in giving a glimpse into the lives of people in debt. These large format photographs, taken of people in their somewhat cluttered but otherwise unexceptional homes, were accompanied by handwritten notes explaining how much each owed (as high as $150K), mostly in student loans.
There is a trend in contemporary art to substitute literalism for realism. To that end, a back room of the gallery was transformed into a faux Campaign Office by Jeremy D. Olson, with desk, chairs and a podium where visitors could be filmed giving their own stump speeches made up of clips generated automatically from those of the major 2016 candidates. Gallery visitors could also make their own campaign buttons and register to vote!
While voicing criticism of aspects of the current state of the political system in the US—that it is dominated by moneyed interests and dishonest candidates, and is unrepresentative “of the people”—the Smack Mellon exhibit in the end came across as a political booster for the supposedly democratic two-party system it purports to criticize. Also, noticeably absent from the show, as from the election campaigns of the major candidates themselves, was any discussion of the ongoing and planned imperialist wars conducted by US imperialism.
Personal is Political is Personal
Finally, a more modest show, Personal is Political is Personal, at 440 Gallery in Brooklyn (July 7-August 6, 2016) exhibited much of the same weaknesses as the Brooklyn Museum and Smack Mellon shows. It did, however, include some artwork with a glimmer of higher aesthetic caliber and potential. Curated by Sue Coe (b. 1951), a British printmaker and illustrator long known for the political outlook of her work, particularly its advocacy of animal rights, the exhibit takes its title from the 1970s feminist rallying phrase, with an added emphasis on the personal.
In Coe’s statement, “no issue is off limits: billionaires, gun control, abortion, LGBT rights, our food supply, clean water, animal rights, education—whatever moves you personally and politically—this is an exhibition to make your statement.” …
Like the Brooklyn Museum Agitprop! show, it feels like the exhibit included work protesting everything from AIDS to Zika. Even work that had some appeal on an artistic basis had to include one of the preferred issues. This, in Ibn Kendall’s arresting drawing of a black woman with her arms crossed, the averted and tentative expression of the sitter is overshadowed by the slogan “You Got Good Hair” (2013), thus becoming a commentary on “race, inclusion, beauty and judgement.”
Serious issues were raised: Ann Stoddard’s four-channel video installation, home.land.security. (2004), records the gallery visitor as he/she enters with interrogatory questions. Bethany Taylor’s medieval-style embroidered tapestries, with slogans in English and Latin (2105), suggest today’s military conflicts. But the artistic forms employed do little to advance our insight.
Here too the strongest work tended to be photographs, particularly Divine Williams’ Youth of Ferguson (2014) in which two kids holding handmade signs saying “Hands Up” and “Justice for Mike Brown” transfix the viewer with the intensity of their young eyes and for-the-camera smiles. Or a small photograph, Subway Sleeper (2013), by Max Alper, that shows what is an everyday sight—a homeless man sprawled on a bench—in a surprisingly intimate and tender light.
On the other end of the scale, an impressively large (38” x 76”) woodblock print, Pieta III (2015), by Nomi Silverman of a larger-than-life dead body was less explicitly related to the themes and yet stole the show for its technical accomplishment and subtlety.
It is to be hoped that more such work comes to the fore in subsequent “political” art exhibits.
This video says about itself:
5 August 2016
Muslims in Queens are standing up to bigotry! After the recent shooting of a well-respected Imam and his assistant, community members join together to protest the killing. They’ve even called the act a hate crime, while the NYPD refuses to acknowledge it as one.
Jewish group expresses solidarity with Muslims after imam is murdered in Queens: here.
The New York City police announced late Monday that they had arrested and charged a Brooklyn man with second-degree murder (upgraded the next day to first-degree murder charges) in connection with the execution-style killings of an imam and his assistant in broad daylight near their mosque in Queens. The community of Bangladeshi immigrants in the Ozone Park area was plunged into mourning, and Muslims throughout the city of 8.5 million expressed alarm over the hostility being stoked by the endless war on terror, and the growing attacks on refugees and immigrants: here.
This video from the USA says about itself:
High-ranking NYPD Cops Charged With Corruption
20 June 2016
Corruption charges were brought against four men arrested Monday in a widening city corruption probe, and includes two high-ranking New York Police Department officials and a police sergeant who oversaw gun license applications.
The New York Police Department has not only political spying problems. Also other problems.
From the New York Times in the USA:
3 N.Y.P.D. Commanders Are Arrested on Corruption Charges
By WILLIAM K. RASHBAUM and JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN
JUNE 20, 2016
Three New York Police Department commanders, including a deputy chief, were arrested early Monday, along with a Brooklyn businessman, on federal corruption charges stemming from one of several continuing investigations into Mayor Bill de Blasio’s campaign fund-raising, according to court papers.
The arrests, of a deputy chief, a deputy inspector and a sergeant, were one of the most significant roundups of police supervisors in the recent history of the department. In striking the top ranks, the case is a particular blow to the storied — and sometimes sullied — reputation of the nation’s largest municipal police force.
The court papers in the case detail lavish gifts the two senior police officials are accused of receiving in exchange for taking official action, including expensive meals, free overseas and domestic trips, and the referral of business to a security company associated with one of the officials. The deputy inspector was also accused of receiving a trip on a private jet to Las Vegas for the Super Bowl weekend in 2013, and was said to be accompanied by a prostitute.
The criminal complaint, sworn out by a Federal Bureau of Investigation agent on a public corruption squad, Blaire Toleman, describes how the New York Police Department played the roles of chauffeur, bodyguard and concierge to two businessmen.
On some occasions, the police officials drove the businessmen around town, using lights and sirens to expedite the trips. Other times, the police intervened to help the businessmen settle disputes with rivals.
“They got, in effect, a private police force for themselves and their friends,” Preet Bharara, the United States attorney for the Southern District of New York, said at a news conference on Monday. “Effectively they got cops on call.”
In addition to the deputy chief and deputy inspector, a sergeant was charged in a separate but related scheme that involved aiding applicants for firearms licenses, the papers said.
Court papers unsealed on Monday also disclosed that a police officer who was involved in that scheme had previously pleaded guilty to bribery charges and was cooperating with federal authorities. In that scheme, bribes — as much as $18,000 per gun license — factored into between 100 and 150 gun licenses in recent years, according to the court papers.
The core of the bribery scheme detailed on Monday, however, relates to the gifts showered on the police by two businessmen, Jeremiah Reichberg and Jona S. Rechnitz, both of whom have been generous supporters of the mayor. Mr. Reichberg, 42, of Borough Park, Brooklyn, was charged along with the officers, the papers said. Mr. Rechnitz, 33, of the Upper West Side in Manhattan, had been a target of the fund-raising investigation until recent weeks, when he pleaded guilty to corruption charges and began cooperating with the federal authorities, people briefed on the matter have said.
Mr. Bharara said little on Monday about the connection between the various inquiries, beyond noting in response to a question that “there is no allegation that has anything to do with the mayor anywhere” in the court documents unsealed Monday.
Arrested were Deputy Chief Michael J. Harrington, 50; Deputy Inspector James M. Grant, 43; and Sgt. David Villanueva, 42, and Mr. Reichberg. They were expected to appear in United States District Court in Manhattan on Monday afternoon. The officer who worked in the pistol license division who has already pleaded guilty was identified as Richard Ochetal. Their lawyers could not immediately be reached for comment.
The arrest of two senior police officials on bribery charges in a single case is a rarity, despite a long docket of colorful police scandals over the years. While past scandals might force police commissioners and chiefs into retirement, it was usually rank-and-file officers and low-level supervisors who found themselves facing criminal charges. …
The official action taken by the senior officers included closing a traffic lane in the Lincoln Tunnel to provide a police escort for a businessman visiting the United States, dispatching police officers to the area near a jewelry business run by associates of Mr. Reichberg to disperse people handing out fliers for a rival business, and sending officers to disperse protesters in front of the business of an associate of Mr. Reichberg, according to the court papers. One of the officials also helped the men with their applications to get Police Department pistol licenses.
Some of the conduct detailed in the court papers veers toward the bizarre. It describes the two businessmen, both Orthodox Jews, visiting the deputy inspector’s Staten Island home on Christmas Day in 2013, wearing elf hats to deliver a video game system for his children and a piece of jewelry for his wife valued at $1,000. On the same day, the two men visited the deputy chief’s home and delivered a video game system for his children.
Far from being an unwelcome intrusion, it was the start of what Inspector Grant apparently hoped would become a Christmas tradition. When Christmas rolled around the next year without any gifts for his family, Inspector Grant expressed his disappointment to one of the businessmen, Mr. Reichberg, during a phone conversation in January 2015, captured on a wiretap.
“First of all, first of all, the two elves didn’t come” for Christmas, he said using an expletive for emphasis, according to the papers. During the same conversation, Inspector Grant complained that Mr. Reichberg had not invited him to the Super Bowl again this year, choosing instead to extend the invitation to another police official.
“See, you don’t love me anymore, bro,” Inspector Grant complained, according to the complaint.
The arrests early Monday morning by agents with the F.B.I. and investigators from the Police Department’s Internal Affairs Bureau were to be followed by the execution of search warrants, according to officials. The charges included bribery, honest services wire fraud and conspiracy.
New York City Police Commissioner William Bratton will retire in September, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday: here.