March 6, 2019; Hyperallergic
Last week, a fundraising luncheon for New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) was disrupted by a small group of Decolonize this Place protestors demanding that the museum divest from private prisons and weapons manufacturers.
The ticket prices for the David Rockefeller Awards Luncheon ranged from $2,500 to $100,000, and the annual soiree was to have honored Bank of America’s CEO Brian Moynihan this year as “an individual from the business community who exemplifies enlightened generosity and effective advocacy of cultural and civic endeavors.” Bank of America has remained invested in private prisons even as JPMorgan Chase has divested in response to public pressures.
The protestors were also challenging the MoMA board membership of Laurence Fink, CEO of BlackRock, which is the second-largest shareholder of each of the two largest private prisons groups, Geo Group and CoreCivic. BlackRock also invests also in the manufacture of weapons of war.
CODEPINK, which cosponsored the protest, has staged protests of Fink awards a number of times, as when the Museum of Finance honored him, or when International Rescue Committee elected to give him an award for humanitarianism.
On top of all of that, Fidelity Investments, which manages MoMA’s pension fund, is a big investor in private prison stocks.
One of the ugly and ironic twists in this particular event is that David Rockefeller, who was a big donor to the arts, was also a donor to progressive criminal justice causes through the David Rockefeller Fund, which divested itself from private prisons in 2012. That fund specifically supported work to end the use of private prisons.—Ruth McCambridge