This Activist Held An Unique Protest Against The Prison System

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It is not uncommon to stumble upon a silent protest aimed at raising awareness to a cause or condition in need of change while walking the streets of New York City, and this is no exception. Artist and anti-prison activist Lech Szporer welded himself in a cage on the corner of Center and White Street, while wearing a prison jumpsuit and handcuffs. He was strategically placed in front of the Manhattan Detention Complex, with his protest focus shedding light on the desperate need for change within the U.S. prison system — a system that is known for it’s lack of equal justice towards African- Americans and undocumented persons living in the United States.

Each person who walked up to the caged Szporer was presented with a card that read:

‘Hello my name is Lech Szporer. This is an art performance. Nothing against you but the system needs to change. I’m not talking without my attorney.’

And in a press release obtained by Gothamist, Szporer’s reason for staging his protest on the anniversary of the day the first penitentiary was established in the United States was quoted:

“I am staging this disruption because the scandal of mass criminalization, incarceration, and neglect in America is horrific, inhumane, and an issue of grave urgency. Not only do we need to pass the The Sentencing Reform And Corrections Act of 2015 – We should abolish prison as the dominant mode of punishment and move toward a non-retributive, reconciliatory, restorative justice to address the issues prisons attempt to address but cannot. By displacing the caged person from behind the walls to the middle of the street, and rendering what is too often invisible visible, I hope to add some emotional depth to the public discussion on prison reform, mental health, and race in America.”

Three police officers evenually put an end to the demonstration by moving Szporer’s cage to the sidewalk and, with the aid of a chainsaw, freed Szporer. To the surprise of no one present, Szporer was arrested and charged with with obstructing governmental administration, disorderly conduct, obstructing traffic, and creating hazardous conditions.

Take a look at a few picture from the daring scene below:

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Photo Credit: Lou Weinstein

This entry was posted in Art & Culture, News.