Early Wednesday morning, cages with foil-clad mannequins inside of them were mysteriously spotted on sidewalks in various parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn. Online, people reported seeing the cages around Gramercy Park and around the Upper West Side, among other places. In each of the cages, a figure resembling a small child lays down on a mat, covered by a flimsy foil blanket, underneath a sign reading #NoKidsInCages.
Something going on at 81st and Central Park West. Sidewalk cordoned off land this chain-link cage thing with a blanket over it is just sort of in the middle. pic.twitter.com/uSttiKvX2x
— max finkel (@2Fast2Finkel) June 12, 2019
No Kids in Cages, a project helmed by RAICES, the Texas-based immigration legal services nonprofit organization, as well as the advertising agency Badger & Winters, are claiming responsibility for the demonstration. "Guerrilla installations popped up early this morning in NYC as protest to the more than 3000 children separated from their parents at the border," RAICES wrote on Twitter. "This is not history. This is happening now. #NoKidsInCages is about the children. We cannot be a nation that separates families."
(Adwait Patil / Gothamist)
The 25 cages installed around NYC were designed to highlight the grim conditions endured by children detained at the United States-Mexico border. In addition to the physical embodiment of incarcerated children, the cages also pipe out sound recordings that have been captured at detention centers.
— John Castrillon (@castrillon_john) June 12, 2019
The cages were installed outside of media organizations' Manhattan and Brooklyn offices (including Vice, Newsweek, and Refinery 29) as well as outside of cultural institutions (The Natural History Museum), and key intersection points, such as Atlantic Avenue-Barclays Center, and Union Square. The demonstration, which is a one-off for now, calls for the passage of the Keep Families Together Bill (HR541) introduced earlier this year, according to Jess Neill, the Director of Strategy at Badger & Winters.
The NYPD has been covering up and tearing down the cages, as Twitter users reported. At Broadway and Houston, in lower Manhattan, three NYPD officers were present, asking onlookers to not huddle near the cages as they called in a special unit to haul the cage away. The NYPD did not immediately respond to an inquiry about whether investigators expect to charge anyone for the installations, but a spokesperson said "a total of 8 cages with mannequin infants/children have been located."
Additional reporting by Adwait Patil.
Correction: This article has been amended to updated to reflect that the demonstration happened on Wednesday morning, not Tuesday.