Activists demand Bed-Stuy studio close over racist Halloween display

Advocates rallied to demand nonprofit ceramics studio Artshake close over a racist Halloween display.
Photo by Alejandra O’Connell-Domenech

Residents rallied on Saturday to demand the closure of a Bedford-Stuyvesant ceramics studio after the nonprofit’s co-director placed Halloween decorations that looked like black children hanging from nooses in her home last week.

The co-director, Dany Rose, has since quit her position with Artshack Brooklyn amid the public uproar, but the public outcry continues.

“All I know is they have got to go,” said Reverend Kirsten John Foy, found of the Arc of Justice, to a crowd of about 50 protesters outside of Artshack at 1131 Bedford Ave..

Rose first received pushback for her decorations on Oct. 23, when a Facebook post of the brown paper dolls hanging from white string went viral. Rose removed the decorations, which were inspired by the horror movie “Annabelle,” after receiving concerned phone calls from parents of students from nearby PS 11.

“I grabbed my chest, I couldn’t believe it,” said Bed-Stuy resident Marilyn Burns, when her granddaughter showed her images of the decorations online.

The protest took place a day after Rose sent a short letter of resignation to the studio’s board of directors.

But to Foy, Artshack appeared more concerned about Rose’s well-being, rather than the community, in allowing her to resign rather than not immediately firing her. Foy insisted that Artshack do more to demonstrate that the action was not in line with its belief system.

“[Rose] is the tip of the iceberg, now we are dealing with the other 90 percent of the iceberg that we can’t see because it’s submerged,” said Foy.

The protesters said the fight was far from over, and that there would be a further call for action in the weeks ahead. The Arc of Justice announced on its Instagram account that it would launch a boycott of Artshack at all of its locations, as well as an educational program.

Founding Director of Artshack Brooklyn, McKendree Key, said in a statement on Artshack’s website that the organization will “address the systemic racism that inherently pervades white-owned businesses in historically black neighborhoods.”

“Since the moment we found out about the racist Halloween decorations, I, and dedicated board members, advisors and staff have been working around the clock to move forward with a plan for restorative justice,” Key wrote, adding that the nonprofit is working with community development organization called The Human Root.

“I believe in this work and I am humbled and heartened by the opportunity to better serve Bed-Stuy,” Key added.

Reach Editor In Chief Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.

More from Around New York

>