Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Art, Tear Gas, Bullets and Boycott

Source: Hyperallergic

Forensic Architecture Says It Has Found Bullet Linking Whitney Vice Chair to Violence in Gaza, Withdraws from Biennial

"After this discovery, what may have started as the Tear Gas Biennial is now the Sierra Bullet Biennial," a Forensic Architecture researcher told Hyperallergic.

By Zachary Small | July 20, 2019

The bullet found by a Forensic Architecture researcher near the Al-Bureji protest camp near the Israeli-Palestinian border in Gaza (image via Forensic Architecture)

Forensic Architecture has announced its decision to withdraw from the 2019 Whitney Biennial. The London-based research group has also requested to replace its 10-minute video about the global spread of tear gas and bullets produced by companies linked to Whitney Museum vice chairman Warren Kanders, with new evidence they've found that directly links the weapons manufacturer to violence on the Israeli-Palestinian border in Gaza.

The organization has previously claimed a connection between the Israeli Defense Force (IDF) and Sierra Bullets — a weapons manufacturer partially owned by Kanders — through contracts with the army's preferred supplier of ammunition, the Israeli Military Industry.

Now, one of Forensic Architecture's researchers in Gaza believes they may have found direct evidence linking the museum board member to border violence that the United Nations classified in a recent report as a potential war crime. After a weekly Friday protest in mid-July, the researcher says that she found an unexploded open-tip bullet in the sand surrounding the Al-Bureji protest camp near the border. The bullet was intact and largely matches the open-source analysis that Forensic Architecture has already conducted on the types of ammunitions Sierra Bullets manufactures.

"What we've seen in Palestine is an escalation in acceptable violence," the researcher told Hyperallergic during a joint interview with Forensic Architecture’s director, Eyal Weizman. “This escalation has resulted in over 90 amputations — the vast majority of which have been to lower limbs."

A lawyer by trade and professor of political science, the Forensic Architecture researcher has worked in the Occupied Palestinian Territories for 15 years. More recently, she has been tasked with collecting evidence in Gaza — both in the form of ammunition rounds and eyewitness testimony. These two components were key for building the group's biennial submission, "Triple-Chaser" (2019), a collaboration with documentary filmmaker Laura Poitras and Praxis Films. Because the researcher investigates sensitive topics like the Israeli military's weapons suppliers and its use of force on the Palestinian border, she has requested that her identity remain anonymous.

The Jerusalem Post estimates that over 60 Palestinians were injured during demonstrations on May 16, 2019. The Israeli Defense Force (IDF) said around 10,000 Palestinians in several locations along the fence burned tires and threw stones and explosive devices toward troops. Palestinian media has reported that the IDF fired live bullets, tear gas, and skunk spray at protesters trying to damage the border fence. (The UN report estimates that in 2018, Israeli forced killed 189 Palestinians and injured another 6,106 during that year's protests.)

Weizman says that until yesterday, his organization was planning to release the new research alongside an ultimatum for the removal of Kanders from the Whitney's board of trustees. Recent news of other artists withdrawing from the show — one of the world's most prestigious exhibitions of contemporary art — convinced the group to expedite its plans. Forensic Architecture says they have informed curators Rujeko Hockley and Jane Panetta of their decision.

Please go to Hyperallergic to read the entire article.
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Source: Forbes

Meet The Safariland Multimillionaire Getting Rich Off Tear Gas and More In The Defense Industry

By Deniz Cam | Forbes Staff | December 6, 2018

I cover the world's richest people.

(L-R) Richard Ziegelasch, Warren Kanders and Frank Minerva attend an award show at New York Stock Exchange on May 21, 2007 in New York City. (Photo by JOE SCHILDHORN/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images)Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

At the U.S.-Mexico border wall in Tijuana in late November, U.S. border agents fired tear gas canisters at a group of migrants, including women and children. The canisters were made by Defense Technology, a riot gear and chemical munition company that is part of Safariland LLC, a global defense manufacturer based in Jacksonville, Florida. Safariland's majority owner and CEO, Warren Kanders, has made a fortune over the past three decades building a diversified network of defense equipment companies whose customers include the U.S. government as well as U.S. allies including Turkey, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Israel, according the War Resisters League, an organization that promotes nonviolence. Forbes estimates that Kanders is worth at least $700 million, the majority of which is based on the value of his company.

Safariland consists of 19 brands. The company, which has estimated revenues of $500 million, sells everything from body armor and riot gear to tear gas and pepper spray. It is the world's largest manufacturer of bomb suits worn by explosive-disposal technicians and the largest provider of body armor for law enforcement in the U.S., according to Kanders. The biggest source of revenue is the body armor business, Kanders told Forbes in an interview on Monday.

Safariland's products are categorized as nonlethal or less-lethal, including tear gas, which is banned by various international treaties during wartime. Yet governments around the world have increasingly adopted the chemical weapon as a method of crowd control. Though categorized as nonlethal or less-lethal, tear gas use has reportedly led to civilian deaths in the past, including in France in early December. Kanders, however, describes his company's offerings as benign. “Whether it's under Obama—he was fond of using these products very frequently—or under Bush or Clinton or whomever, we are there to make nonlethal products and to provide those products to friends of our government through very prescribed channels," Kanders told Forbes.

Please go to Forbes to read the entire article.
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Do it! Boycott the museum.

Amid Call for Boycott Over Trustee, Whitney Biennial Artists on Why They Won't Withdraw Works

Who Are the Whitney Biennial Defectors, and What Do They Want? Meet the 8 Artists Who Have Withdrawn From the Exhibition


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