Jun 10, 2020
News

Warren Kanders’s company Safariland will divest from tear gas production.

Activists demanding the removal of Warren Kanders from the Whitney Museum's board of directors in 2018. Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Activists demanding the removal of Warren Kanders from the Whitney Museum's board of directors in 2018. Photo by Erik McGregor/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images.

Warren Kanders, the controversial defense contractor and art collecor who stepped down from his role as trustee for the Whitney Museum of American Art last year following months of protests, will stop producing tear gas and other crowd control munitions through his company Safariland, according to an announcement released on Tuesday. The announcement clarifies that Safariland will sell off its divisions that “provide various crowd control solutions, including chemical agents, munitions and batons, to law enforcement and military agencies,” with the sale taking place in the third quarter of this year.
Kanders’s ties to munitions manufacturing, particularly tear gas, were the driving force behind protests demanding he step down from the Whitney board, with demonstrators pointing to the chemical agent’s use at the U.S.-Mexico border, during the Standing Rock and Ferguson protests, and at the Gaza border as evidence of Kanders’s complicity in state-sanctioned violence.
Furor over Safariland’s munitions production reignited in the wake of the recent worldwide protests over police brutality and racial violence, where images of police firing tear gas at peaceful protestors spread across social media and were consequently condemned by medical professionals and politicians alike. The chemical agent was banned for use against enemy combatants in the 1925 Geneva Conventions, but is still used by police against domestic demonstrations.

Further Reading: How Far Will Artists Go to Stop Toxic Philanthropy?