If you’re into nudity, huge art installations, “Mad Max,” EDM and camping, Burning Man is the festival for you. The annual event brings thousands to the dry lands of Nevada for a week of intense and very open partying. The festival is known for it’s intricate and beautiful wooden structures that get burned down in spectacular fashion. The festival just concluded and while it was beautiful as always, things also got political in the shape of a giant cage structure.
Artists created a giant cage on wheels at Burning Man to protest Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and a recent contract with a tech company.
CREDIT: Vimeo: Mijente
The installation was spearheaded by Mijente — a social justice Latinx organization. Mijente created the installation to protest ICE and Palo Alto-based tech company Palantir’s contract. The tech company, using Amazon networks, provides federal immigration authorities with a vast database of information. The program, called Investigative Case Management (ICM), helps immigration officials to find and form cases against immigration targets.
Mijente is asking people to sign a petition asking Amazon to drop Palantir from their servers.
CREDIT: Vimeo: Mijente
According to Mijente, Amazon is paid millions of dollars to provide services to Palantir, which helps ICE track down immigrants across the country. Palantir signed a $51 million contract with ICE to provide the information tracking immigrants in the U.S.
“We’re demanding that Amazon stop enabling Palantir and ICE,” Mijente said on its website. “Amazon depends on our business more than they depend on Palantir, and if enough of us demand change, they’ll be forced to act.”
The cage weighed roughly 800 pounds and was 14 x 10 feet. Here’s a time-lapse video of its construction.
Organizers are hoping the art installation will bring awareness to the real enablers behind ICE and their tactics.
“Along with much of the world we watched in horror recently as U.S. authorities tore children away from their parents,” a spokesperson for the group said to The Hill. “In the face of this immoral U.S. policy, and the U.S.’s increasingly inhumane treatment of refugees and immigrants beyond this specific policy, we are deeply concerned that Amazon is implicated, providing infrastructure and services that enable ICE and DHS.”
Reactions to the structure have been mixed with many making fun of the protest at the festival. However, right wing Twitter users are letting their opinions be heard.
“It’s not dangerous,” Mijente tweeted in response to FOX News. “It’s exercising our 1st Amendment rights to engage in a peaceful action educating people about the “mission critical” ICM software @palantirtech sells to ICE. It’s dangerous, actually, to use Orwellian tech to round up families and put them in cages.”
Some Twitter users tried vilifying the people who participated in the protest.
The organizers of Mijente have been clear that they did not participate in the festival. They claim they built the structure and spoke to people about what ICE and Palantir are doing using Amazon’s servers to educate attendees.
Mijente said on Twitter that the whole point of Burning Man is to express yourself, so that’s what they did.
“Burning Man’s leading principle is ‘radical self expression,'” Mijente tweeted. “It’s an expensive sanctuary for tech executives like Peter Thiel, Alex Karp, and Jeff Bezos. No such sanctuary exists for immigrants in this country today.”
For more information on how to get involved click here: http://bit.ly/droppalantir.