The direct action group Revolting Lesbians once again picketed the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) on April 13, demanding that billionaire Rebekah Mercer, a major Breitbart News investor, be removed from the museum’s board for being a climate-change denier and funding groups that challenge the reality of global warming.
The spirited demonstration came in the midst of another controversy engulfing the museum for renting its main hall to the Brazilian-American Chamber of Commerce, which was set to honor the anti-LGBTQ, anti-environment right-wing president of Brazil, Jair Bolsonaro, as its man of the year on May 14. Protests against the event by museum employees were vociferous, and 20,000 people signed letters and petitions demanding AMNH cancel it.
Mulheres da Resistência no Exterior, Revolting Lesbians, and five other groups had planned a demonstration at the museum to protest the Bolsonaro event on April 20, but by then the museum caved so the protest was held instead at Zuccotti Park near Cipriani Wall Street, where the event had been moved. Cipriani has now rejected it, as well, and it is now set for the Marriott Marquis in Times Square, where Bolsonaro and, as “American of the Year,” Trump Secretary of State Mike Pompeo will be honored. Tickets are $30,000 and protests are anticipated.
Mayor Bill de Blasio called Bolsonaro “a dangerous person due to his anti-gay, racist, and anti-Amazon Rain Forest stance.”
The museum, however, continues to dig in on keeping Mercer, issuing this written statement in response to the Revolting Lesbians demo: “Human-induced climate change is well-supported by scientific evidence and is one of the most serious issues currently facing our planet. We are deeply committed to presenting evidence-based, scientific information about climate change to a broad public. The Museum does not make appointment decisions concerning staff or trustees based on political views. In addition, trustees and donors do not make decisions about the presentation of scientific information. That is the role of curators and educators.”
Anne Maguire of Revolting Lesbians responded, “How does the AMNH expect to maintain any credibility by protecting a board member who funds and promotes anti-science propaganda around climate change, based solely on political views over scientific evidence? If scientific evidence is their criteria then Mercer, regardless of her political opinions, has no place at this museum. Mercer pays for anti-science propaganda and climate science misinformation and for those reasons no reasonable scientific institution would want her on their board. This statement is pure obfuscation and frankly it’s insulting.”
Revolting Lesbians are looking to step up their protests of board members who refuse to remove Mercer — including Tina Fey, Lorne Michaels, and de Blasio. Only City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, an ex-officio member of the board, has called for her removal.