New York, NY – The criminal justice college which employs an anti-police Antifa professor is now in the spotlight again for promoting the artwork of Guantanamo detainees.
The Pentagon has taken action to ensure an art exhibit at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice won’t be receiving any new pieces created by prisoners at Guantanamo Bay.
The taxpayer-funded institution’s controversial collection features 36 paintings and sculptures created by detainees during their time at Guantanamo. The art was submitted to curators by the detainees’ lawyers, who also field inquiries from potential buyers.
“I just pass on inquiries to lawyers,” John Jay art crime professor Erin Thompson told The New York Post. “I do know that only artwork of former detainees who have been cleared of wrongdoing and released, is available.”
The signs in the exhibit tell people who to e-mail to buy the artwork.
Until mid-November, inmates at the detention center were able to request the release of their work to their attorneys. The lawyers then held the art on behalf of the detainee, or they forwarded it to the inmate’s family.
According to the Miami Herald, that all changed on Nov. 15.
“Items produced by detainees at Guantánamo Bay remain the property of the U.S. government,” Pentagon spokesman Air Force Major Ben Sakrisson announced in a statement.
“The appropriate disposition of this property has been clarified with our staff at the detention facility and will be accounted for according to applicable local procedures in the future,” Maj. Sakrisson said.
Changes were immediately implemented at Gitmo, and transfer of any artwork to anyone outside the facility was suspended.
According to the New York Post, many family members of those killed in the Sep. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks were shocked and outraged to learn that the exhibit existed – let alone at a taxpayer-funded college that educates aspiring law enforcement officers.
“I feel completely betrayed,” Rosaleen Tallon, whose brother was a firefighter who died in the attacks, told the New York Post. “Using taxpayer money to hang the artwork of criminals in our college for criminal justice makes my blood boil. This is going way too far and is rubbing our noses in the loss we have to carry with us every day.”
Some family members pointed out that there were victims of the attacks who had also been students at the college.
“A lot of guys who passed away during 9/11 went to John Jay College, including my brother. I can’t understand how this college in particular would allow such a thing. Where’s their decency? Where’s their dignity? They’re delivering the completely wrong message. It’s denying and softening what happened,” said Michael Burke, whose brother was a firefighter captain who died in the attacks.
But Thompson, who curated the exhibit along with archivist Paige Laino, and artist and poet Charles Shields, seemed to value the feelings of the detainees over those of the 9/11 victims’ families.
“I hope that people will come visit the show and see the art, because, at this point, I don’t know what will happen to it,” she told The New York Post. “It might go back to the artists — or it might go into an incinerator.”
This isn’t the first time a member of the John Jay College of Criminal Justice exhibited a disregard for the first responders that they teach.
In August, a professor who openly identified himself as Antifa, posted anti-police tweets that got national attention and condemnation.
“Some of ya’ll might think it sucks being an anti-fascist teaching at John Jay College but I think it’s a privilege to teach future dead cops,” adjunct professor Michael Isaacson tweeted, According to the New York Post.
He then attempted to downplay his statement during an interview with the New York Daily News.
“Oh, that s**t?” he said. “Everybody dies.”
“I don’t have a problem with individual police officers — I mean, I teach them — but I don’t like policing as an institution,” Isaacson told the New York Daily News. “Police officers are agents of that institution.”
Isaacson was suspended by the college in September, and the current status of his employment is unknown.
John Jay College did not respond to a request for comment.