Goodbye to the racist statue of Roosevelt and two people of color outside NYC's Natural History Museum

Since 1940, a statue of President Theodore Roosevelt on a horse flanked by a Native American man and an African man on foot has stood outside New York City's American Museum of Natural History. After years of protests against the statue's composition, the museum has now decided to remove it. This decision follows a special exhibition last year, titled "Addressing the Statue," about the disturbing monument and its historical context. (See exhibition video below.) From the New York Times:

“The American Museum of Natural History has asked to remove the Theodore Roosevelt statue because it explicitly depicts Black and Indigenous people as subjugated and racially inferior,” Mayor Bill de Blasio said in a statement. “The City supports the Museum’s request. It is the right decision and the right time to remove this problematic statue." [...]

A Roosevelt family member released a statement approving the removal.

“The world does not need statues, relics of another age, that reflect neither the values of the person they intend to honor nor the values of equality and justice,” said Theodore Roosevelt IV, age 77, a great-grandson of the 26th president and a museum trustee. “The composition of the Equestrian Statue does not reflect Theodore Roosevelt’s legacy. It is time to move the statue and move forward.” [...] Critics, though, have pointed to President Roosevelt’s opinions about racial hierarchy, his support of eugenics theories and his pivotal role in the Spanish-American War. Some see Roosevelt as an imperialist who led fighting in the Caribbean that ultimately resulted in American expansion into colonies there and in the Pacific including Puerto Rico, Hawaii, Guam, Cuba and the Philippines.

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How to safely topple a statue using science

During the anti-racist uprising, protestors in the US and England have been toppling statues of historical figures connected to slavery, colonialism, and oppression. (Above, Christopher Columbus taking a dip in Richmond, Virginia last week.) With these bronze figures weighing around 3,500 to 7,000 pounds, pulling them off their pedestals isn't an easy task to do safely. So Popular Mechanics asked for advice from mechanical engineer Scott Holland. And in case you're tempted, "Popular Mechanics is not encouraging anyone to remove any statues." From PopSci:

...The OSHA-mandated upper force limit for horizontal pulling per person is 50 pounds of force—“but that’s for working every day,” he says, “so you could probably do twice that.”

At 100 pounds of force, then, we’re talking about a 35-person job to drag the statue, Holland says. But to pull it down, “let’s assume twice the force—so you’ll need twice as many people.” So before you start toppling, you’d better recruit 70 buddies with a bit of muscle.

Now that you have your crew, you’ll need the right tools. Holland suggests grabbing a few 4x4 recovery straps, which can be rated to over 32,000 pounds and are far less cumbersome than a chain. Once you’re properly equipped, you want to get leverage, Holland says, “so you need to get the straps around the head or the neck [of the statue].”

To break the statue from its base, split into two teams on either side and work in a back-and-forth motion. Most statues are attached to the base by 2 to 3 feet of rebar, so you’ll actually be breaking it at the bronze above the rebar—not the rebar itself, says Holland.

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Banksy's brilliant idea to make "everyone happy" after activists pulled down Bristol slave trader statue

In Bristol, England, anti-racism protestors pulled down a bronze statue of slave trader and philanthropist Edward Colston and rolled it into the River Avon. Banksy, who is thought to live in Bristol, posted a brilliant idea that could please "both those who miss the Colston statue and those who don’t."

"We drag him out the water, put him back on the plinth, tie cable round his neck and commission some life size bronze statues of protestors in the act of pulling him down," Banksy wrote on Instagram. "Everyone happy. A famous day commemorated." Read the rest

Gil Scott-Heron explains "The Revolution Will Not Be Televised"

From an interview with Gil-Scott Heron:

"The first change that takes place is in your mind. You have to change your mind before you change the way you live and the way you move...It will just be something you see and you’ll think, "Oh I’m on the wrong page."

"The Revolution Will Not Be Televised" (1971):

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On the 50th anniversary of Kent State Massacre, listen to the Isley Brothers' "Ohio"

Fifty years ago today at Kent State University, the Ohio National Guard gunned down four students and wounded nine more during a demonstration against the invasion of Cambodia. The tragedy inspired Neil Young to write the epic social commentary "Ohio" for his band Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young. (Video below.)

Above is the Isley Brothers's masterful and moving medley of "Ohio" and Jimi Hendrix's "Machine Gun" from their 1971 album Givin' It Back.

If you don't know, now you know.

From John Lombardi's coverage of the Kent State Massacre in Rolling Stone's June 11th, 1970 issue:

“A lot of the Guards were young and they looked scared,” [24-year-old Howard] Ruffner remembers, and then some kid with a black flag was down in front of them trying to get the students to charge. “Kill the pigs! The pigggs!!” he was screaming and the gas blew in clouds. But this time the students were picking up the canisters and throwing them back, and it didn’t even matter that the gas wasn’t having much effect, was in fact blowing up and over the heads of the combatants in the strong wind and back toward the football field where it managed to burn the eyes and lungs of some people who wanted nothing to do with any of this, including a blind student and his girlfriend who were crawling along the Spring grass in panic, digging at their tearing eyes and vomiting. A lot of kids who had just been standing around watching began to yell then, and everything got louder.

The Guards had run out of tear gas and were retreating up the hill, to the left of Taylor Hall, when some of the students began to throw rocks.

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'CANCEL THE RENT' projected on NYC skyscraper by The Illuminator

'CANCEL THE RENT' 'SEND MORE VENTILATORS' 'STOP ICE RAIDS'

NYC-based political projection collective 'The Illuminator' staged a large-scale public projection in Manhattan on Saturday night to make several demands on local, state, and federal governments during the COVID-19 pandemic crisis. Read the rest

Fantastic social justice hoodies and t-shirts featuring black activists and leaders

I first learned of Philadelphia Printworks because of a sweatshirt they designed for the Brooklyn Museum's showing of Soul of a Nation: Art in the Age of Black Power 1963–1983, an absolutely essential exhibition of black artists' work at the intersection of activism, empowerment, and cultural pride. (The exhibition is currently on view at San Francisco's de Young Museum.) Philadelphia Printworks describes itself as "a social justice heritage brand and screen printing workshop."

I bought the "Soul of a Nation" crewneck and also the "People's Free Food Program hoodie" celebrating the Black Panthers' influential community program launched in 1969 that fed thousands of children every day.

"Soul of a Nation"

"Octavia Butler" by Nick James

"Freedom Trail/Freedom Summer" Read the rest

Greta Thunberg has a crisply articulated demand

I was a anti-nuclear arms proliferation activist from a very young age, 10 or 11, and took it seriously, nearly getting kicked out of school and organizing classmates to attend large demonstrations. I felt like I was tackling an existential risk to the human race and most of the living things on the planet Earth (30+ years later, I think I was right), and that the grownups around me were not taking this seriously, and that this was probably the most urgent thing for me to focus on as a result. Read the rest

Privacy activists spent a day on Capitol Hill scanning faces to prove that scanning faces should be banned

Activists from Fight for the Future prowled the halls of Congress in "jumpsuits with phone strapped to their heads conducting live facial recognition surveillance" to "show why this tech should be banned." Read the rest

US Navy building a ship named after Harvey Milk sixty years after he was booted out for being gay

The US Navy is building a ship that they are naming after a true American hero. Harvey Milk (1930-1978) was an inspiring LGBT activist who in 1978 became the first openly gay elected official in California history. On November 27 1978, Milk, a highly effective member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, and mayor George Moscone were assassinated by another city supervisor. But before all that, Milk served in the Navy. That is, until his superiors found out Milk was gay and forced him to resign. From CNN:

More than 60 years later, the Navy began construction Friday on the USNS Harvey Milk, a new oiler ship that will resupply fuel to other ships at sea. "(This) sends a global message of inclusion more powerful than simply 'We'll tolerate everyone,'" Stuart Milk said at a ceremony in San Diego, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune. "(It says) We celebrate everyone."

From the San Diego Union-Tribune:

Nicole Murray Ramirez, the chairman and executive director of the San Diego International Imperial Court Council, an LGBT organization, was a leader in the push to name a vessel after Milk.

“When ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ was lifted, I researched, and one guy picks all these (ship) names — the Secretary of the Navy,” Ramirez said.

His organization, which has chapters nationwide, organized a national letter-writing campaign in 2011 to push then-Navy Secretary Ray Mabus to name a ship for Milk.

image: "Harvey Milk in dress Navy Blue uniform for his brother's wedding in 1954" (CC BY-SA 3.0 Read the rest

JOHN WILCOCK: The Brutal 1968 DNC and Abbie Hoffman’s Illegal Forehead

The mayhem (or success) of the 1968 Democratic National Convention, and Abbie Hoffman's arrest for writing a forbidden word on his forehead.

From John Wilcock, New York Years, by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall.

(See all Boing Boing installments)

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Librecorps: an organization that connects student free/open source software developers with humanitarian NGOs

Librecorps is a program based at the Rochester Institute for Technology's Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) initiative that works with UNICEF to connect students with NGOs for paid co-op placements where they build and maintain FOSS tools used by nonprofits. Read the rest

JOHN WILCOCK: Paul Krassner and the Birth of the Political Prankster Group, YIPPIE!

A 1967 acid trip during a hurricane at Ramrod Key, Florida, leads Abbie Hoffman, his wife Anita, and Paul Krassner to see the upcoming 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago as a hugely visible moment for political protest.

When home from the vacation, the group has a celebratory smoke, leading to Paul's coining of the term Yippie, for politicized, radical, or activist hippies.

From John Wilcock, New York Years, by Ethan Persoff and Scott Marshall.

(See all Boing Boing installments)

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This Thanksgiving, don't have a political argument, have a "structured organizing conversation"

Union organizers don't have arguments with workers, they have "structured organizing conversations" -- conversations in which the organizer asks someone to think about what change they want to see, what the obstacles to that change are, and then asks them to think about whether that change will come about unless they form a union. Read the rest

About Face: EFF's new campaign to end government use of face surveillance

Today, the Electronic Frontier Foundation launched About Face, a new national campaign to end governmental use of facial recognition technology for surveillance at all levels -- city, state and federal. Read the rest

How (and why) to become a tech policy activist

Caroline McCarthy is a journalist and ex-googler who now works as an ad-tech exec for a startup that Fox bought and they transfered to Disney when the two companies merged; in this great, impassioned Tedx talk, she lays out the case for being a "tech policy activist" and explains how the field of tech policy, though neglected by politicians and pollsters, is vital to many aspects of our daily lives, and how it fails to decompose neatly on left-right lines and nevertheless demands our close attention lest it be formulated in ways that disappoint or even harm us. It's a great talk, akin in some ways to Schneier's plea for "public interest technologists." Read the rest

Protestors use laser pointers to bring down police drone

As William Gibson wrote, "The street finds its own uses for things."

More in this vein:

• Hong Kong protesters use lasers to blind security cameras

• After student arrested for carrying laser-pointers, Hong Kong protesters stage "stargazing" laser-protest

(Thanks, UPSO!) Read the rest

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