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Pussy Riot shut down Trump Tower in NYC with political protest

on October 24, 2017, 2:51pm

Photo via Twitter/@pussyrrriot

Russian protest punk group Pussy Riot stormed Trump Tower in New York City on Monday, forcing its closure for a full 30 minutes. The balaclava-clad outfit was advocating for the release of political prisoners in Russia, a cause they’ve been fighting for since their inception.

Three members of Pussy Riot ran into the 58-story skyscraper on Monday evening and headed to an upper floor overlooking the lobby. They unfurled a long banner that read, “Free Sentsov,” also dropping what looked like photographs or leaflets. Security guards eventually stopped the women, though the protestors were not arrested as parts of Trump Tower are open to the public. Still, the entire building was shut down for half-an-hour while the matter was sorted out.

The Sentsov of the sign refers to Oleg Sentsov, a Ukrainian film director currently serving 20 years in a Russian penal colony. Sentsov was convicted of terrorism, though many supporters — including Amnesty International — say the trial was unfair and that he is being persecuted for vocally opposing Vladimir Putin’s annexation of Crimea.

“We came to occupy Trump Tower to call attention to political prisoners,” Pussy Riot said in a Facebook statement, adding, “We believe that political prisoners and their protection are more important than the sexist bullshit that people have been focused on.”

Watch footage and find Pussy Riot’s complete statement, as well as other social media images, below.

“We remember when we were imprisoned, we received news about hundreds of activists around the world putting on balaclavas and going to the streets to support us. That was the moment we understood we are not alone. But we should not forget that even though we’ve come to the other side of the fence, there are still hundreds of political prisoners behind bars waiting for your support. We received a lot of letters, smiles, and noise from you.

To continue we’re calling on you today to raise attention to two guys from Ukraine: film director Oleg Sentsov and anarchist Olexandr Kolchenko, who are in Russian prison right now. Sentsov got 20 years in prison, Kolchenko got 10 years. Because they, like you, did not sit by — they were fighting for their freedom in Crimea, which was annexed by Putin. During the investigation in Russia Oleg Sentsov was tortured and two months ago, after our action, he was transported to a penal colony with some of the cruelest conditions in Russia — ‘Polar Bear.’ We decided to do an action right now, while we are in New York, with activists here because we believe there are no borders to our solidarity.

We came to occupy Trump Tower to call attention to political prisoners. We believe that political prisoners and their protection are more important than the sexist bullshit that people have been focused on.

Defending political prisoners is an issue that transcends borders. We are acting in solidarity against leaders like Putin, who has exercised authoritarian force and Trump, who is displaying authoritarian tendencies — because we all need to be fighting together on behalf of dissidents everywhere.

We, Pussy Riot, invite you to join our fabulous and bold path: ask questions of your politicians who shake hands with Putin in international forums, support advocacy, go out into the streets. And put on your own political, public actions too.”