• News
  • Jun 13, 2024

Pro-Palestinian Activists Vandalize Brooklyn Museum Leaders’ Homes

Vandalism and banner hung outside the home of Brooklyn Museum director Anna Pasternak, posted to X by Mayor Eric Adams. 

On the morning of June 12, the residences of Brooklyn Museum director Anne Pasternak and the institution’s board members were vandalized in a coordinated attack by pro-Palestinian activists. 

The offenders smeared paint and graffiti across the entry of Pasternak’s apartment building in Brooklyn Heights, hanging a banner that accused the Jewish museum director of being a “white-supremacist Zionist” who “funds genocide.” On the floor, stencil graffiti read “blood on your hands.” Taylor Maatman, the museum’s director of public relations and communications, stated that four other Brooklyn Museum officials’ homes were vandalized, but it is unclear if their attacks were as targeted as Pasternak’s. 

According to NBC New York, the Brooklyn Heights building’s superintendent claimed that its surveillance video captured five masked individuals wearing all-black committing the crime. Senior police sources revealed that they are searching for about 15 suspects, who were last seen on the Upper East Side in a white U-Haul truck.

New York City mayor Eric Adams and state governor Kathy Hochul both denounced the vandalism on X, with Adams calling the act “overt, unacceptable antisemitism.” Members of the Association of Art Museum Directors (AAMD) also released a statement: “We, the members of AAMD, unequivocally and forcefully condemn this antisemitic act . . . It does tremendous disservice to discourse and conflict resolution, and the ends simply do not justify the means. We hope that the authorities will pursue and prosecute the perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.”

The news follows a major pro-Palestine demonstration at the Brooklyn Museum, which called for the institution to cut ties with corporate partners and donors whose finances are tied to Israel’s government, military, or defense industry. The protests led to violent confrontations with the NYPD and resulted in more than 30 arrests. A museum spokesperson told Hyperallergic that the institution had not called the authorities, and said “the police brutality” that occurred was “devastating.” The museum also reached out to NYPD leadership “to discuss their actions on Friday and how we can focus on de-escalation going forward.”

The anti-Zionist activist group Within Our Lifetime (WOL), which operates in New York City and helped organize the protest at the Brooklyn Museum, stated “we commend” the vandalism, but denied responsibility. WOL organizer Nerdeen Kiswani replied to Adam’s post on X, stating: “To assume this is about the board being Jewish, is actually playing into antisemitic tropes . . . and when you repeatedly silence and oppress people, don’t be surprised when people get angry and demand to be heard.”

Earlier this week, on June 10, WOL organized a counter-demonstration in response to “Nova Exhibition NYC,” which hoped to commemorate the 370 music festival attendees who were murdered on October 7, as well as the 44 who were taken hostage from Nova. WOL called the festival “a rave next to a concentration camp,” and said that the Nova Exhibition is “zionist propaganda.” 

Camilla Alvarez-Chow is an editorial assistant at ArtAsiaPacific.

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