Warren B. Kanders stepped down from the prestigious position of vice chairman for the Whitney Museum of American Art over protests regarding his company’s sale of tear gas. Eight artists withdrew from the career-making Whitney Biennial exhibition as part of months of demonstrations against Safariland, the Kanders-owned, Florida-based company that sells tear gas, bulletproof vests and other military paraphernalia to law enforcement. These items have reportedly been used against migrants at the border and during protests.
“The politicized and oftentimes toxic environment in which we find ourselves across all spheres of public discourse, including the art community, puts the work of this board in great jeopardy,” Kanders, who joined the board in 2006 and has donated over $10 million to the museum, wrote in a resignation letter. This news comes on the heels of the The Metropolitan Museum of Art declining to accept further gifts from members of the Sackler family who are associated with Purdue Pharma, the maker of OxyContin.