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Ousted Whitney administrator Warren Kanders reneges on promise not to sell tear gas

Warren Kanders, who resigned in 2019 as vice chairman of the board of trustees of the Whitney American Museum of Art in New York over his ties to defense contractor Safariland, is still selling chemical weapons despite his pledge to get rid of it, The interception reports. Kanders, who remains Safariland’s chairman and CEO, resigned from Whitney’s board following widespread calls in the art world for his departure. The outcry culminated in a scathing Artfroum.com essay written by Hannah Black, Ciarán Finlayson and Tobi Haslett in which the authors questioned why participating artists had not boycotted the Whitney Biennial given that Kanders was taking advantage of tear gas used against protesters at Standing Rock, protesters responding to the murders of Freddie Gray in Baltimore and Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, respectively; and those marching against austerity in Puerto Rico, whose numbers included children. A large number of artists subsequently withdrew their work from the Biennale and Kanders left the board. Nearly a year later, after its products were rolled out against civilians protesting the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, Safariland announced it would sell Defense Technology and Monadnock, the two companies responsible for the production of tear gas.

However, according to The interception, Kanders did not spin off Defense Technology but instead reorganized its holdings, with both Defense Technology and Safariland listed as part of Cadre Holdings, which Kanders has owned since 2012. Although Cadre Holdings does not list Defense Technology on its website, he claimed in an SEC filing last year to count the chemical weapons maker among the twenty-three companies he owns. Executive in its March 2022 Annual Report to Shareholders listed Defense Technology as a subsidiary, noting that the company used toxic compounds in its “crowd control products” and warning investors that “private parties may sue us due to suspected adverse health effects or property damage. caused by our operations. The interception further points out that Cadre, Safariland and Defense Technology share the same mailing address in Jacksonville, Florida; the publication further notes that his pleas to Defense Technology were met with a recorded greeting from Safariland.

Tear gas, despite its frequent use against protesters in the United States and elsewhere in the world, is banned on the battlefield under the 1925 Geneva Protocol, which prohibits chemical warfare.

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