Pro-Palestine Protesters Arrested Outside the Met Gala

As celebrities posed for the cameras on the Met Gala red carpet, hundreds of pro-Palestine protesters marched across Manhattan’s Upper East Side tonight, May 6, during the annual fundraiser for the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

A heavy police presence surrounded the museum with steel barricades, street closures, and dozens of armed officers blocking demonstrators. Around 6pm, protesters who cut through Central Park and managed to dismantle barricades set up near the entrance were met with arrests. Hyperallergic has contacted the New York Police Department (NYPD) to confirm the number of arrests and charges.

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Outside the Met Gala in Manhattan

Activists rerouted the march to the streets, weaving up and down Park, Madison, and Fifth Avenues to circumvent roadblocks and traffic in a massive action organized by the grassroots resistance movements We the People (WTP) and Within Our Lifetime, among other groups.

Asked why she chose the night of the Met Gala to mobilize against Israel’s war on Gaza, June Johnson, a New York-based activist with WTP, told Hyperallergic that she thinks “it’s disgusting to celebrate celebrity consumerism when there’s a genocide going on.”

“It’s amoral,” Johnson said. “I’m here in solidarity with Gaza because there’s no business as usual while that’s happening.” She raised a handpainted sign that read, “Imagine ignoring a whole ass genocide.”

The contrast between the keffiyeh-clad, backpack-wearing activists, most of them young, and the throngs of fans pressed up against the barricades erected outside the Met Gala tent entrance, hoping to catch a glimpse of the A-listers, was indeed stark.

Others pointed to the level of luxury and excess on view at the event — which last year raised $22 million — as United Nations officials warn of “full-blown famine” in Gaza. One activist holding a sign with the words “no Met Gala while bombs fall in Gaza” remarked to Hyperallergic that the $75,000 ticket cost for a single individual represented “a grotesque display of wealth” that could be better directed to helping an entire family leave the besieged region.

Bushwick-based painter Danielle de Jesus, who was among the many marching tonight, told Hyperallergic that she felt a responsibility to speak out as an artist.

“Too many people in the art world have been silent during this genocide afraid of losing opportunities or ruining their careers, while people in Palestine are literally losing their lives,” she said.

As of 8:30pm, the march had barely dwindled and activists continued treading down Park Avenue.

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