Over 3,000 poor, brown children remain penned like animals in cages, sleeping alone under 68-cent blankets in freezing cells thanks to this regime’s “purposefully cruel” family separations. In recent days, as protesters from Florida to Geneva called for an end to the barbarity and the cretins in charge considered the new atrocity of replicating Japanese internment camps “layered in trauma,” things got real in New York City: Last week, immigrant rights advocates put up two dozen startling guerrilla art installations in two dozen carefully chosen landmark locations featuring a chain-link cage, a foil-wrapped “child,” and harrowing audio of real-life kids sobbing. The kick-in-the-gut art project by ad agency Badger & Winters, about 10 street artists and RAICES, the Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services, is part of the group’s No Kids In Cages campaign. Arguing that “walking by is no longer an option,”
RAICE’s campaign homepage urges viewers to “SHARE their stories online. ACT by telling Congress to pass Bill HR-541 – Keep Families Together Act. And SUPPORT organizations that are fighting to save and reunite children separated at our border. “This is not history,” they write. “This is happening now.”
To bring home the torment suffered by children as young as four months, the campaign played audio recordings of actual, distraught, detained children smuggled out and published last year by Pro Publica. Not included in the audio used in the pieces is the bemused border patrol agent who sneered to those sobbing children, “Well, we have an orchestra here… What’s missing is a conductor.” The response to the mannequin children by the NYPD wasn’t much better: On social media, many posted pictures of cops warily eying the potentially disruptive installations and then swiftly removing them; noted one appalled witness, “Let’s get it out of the way (so) good folks (can) carry on the business of capitalism.” Added one cynic/realist, “Put a real kid in there, and they’ll ignore it.”
After reports that police were considering harassment charges against the group – what is wrong with this friggin’ picture? – and had begun tearing down the pieces within hours of them appearing, RAICES wrote on Twitter, “Police here with a chainsaw. The State can act rapidly to put a stop to art installation, but every night over 13,000 children are locked up for the crime of seeking a safe haven. Know this: the system is working as designed.”
In their mission statement, they declare, “We cannot be a nation that separates families.” But facts owe: The installations were torn down by the next day. The real kids are still there.
Abby Zimet has written Common Dreams Further column since 2008.
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