Artist Nan Goldin was arrested today for disorderly conduct while protesting outside of New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office building in Manhattan along with a dozen other activist members of P.A.I.N., the group Goldin founded to hold the Sackler family accountable for its role in the opioid crisis.
The protest today was targeted at Cuomo, who the activists allege has not done enough to stem the flow of overdose deaths related to opioid and prescription drug addiction. The protesters carried signs reading “Governor, while you wait New Yorkers die” and chanting “Cuomo lies, people die!” while sitting with arms linked in front of the glass skyscraper, reports Alex Greenberger of ARTnews. Arrests were made when protesters blocked the building’s entrances.
The protesters came out a day after Senator Gustavo Rivera of New York and other public health officials spoke on WNYC’s “Brian Lehrer Show” to discuss new Democrat-led initiatives to combat overdoses by introducing “safe injection sites” and other potentially lifesaving solutions, which P.A.I.N. supports. The actions also come on the heels of news that the Sacklers have reportedly offered up to $12 billion in settlement fees, and the possibility that the company that they control, Purdue Pharma, would be transformed into a public trust.
The protest was organized by Housing Works along with VOCAL-NY and the Harm Reduction Coalition, and was aimed at the governor, who they say claims “he’s progressive, but really his policies and funding for the overdose crisis is regressive,” activist Jasmine Budnella told Patch. She added that “we’re losing thousands of people a year—year after year the governor continues to under-fund this crisis and continues to block lifesaving interventions like overdose prevention centers.”
Over the past year, Goldin, who has been addicted to opioids herself, and P.A.I.N. have traveled around the US and Europe staging “die-ins” and other protests at art institutions that have received Sackler funding.
Earlier this year, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the American Museum of Natural History, the Tate, and the National Portrait Gallery all pledged to reject further funding from the Sackler family. The Louvre removed all traces of the Sackler name from its buildings, while the Sackler Trust formally halted its philanthropic giving.
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