Pussy Riot Shuts Down Trump Tower To Protest Authoritarianism

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The group used the protest to call for the release of two Ukrainian political prisoners, causing Trump Tower to be shut down for at least half an hour.

Pussy Riot band stands on top of building and plays a song in Moscow's Red Square. One band member waves purple flag

Pussy Riot has a long history of clashing with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Now, the Russian feminist punk rock group is taking their grievances to New York City, where Trump Tower is located.

Standing in opposition to President Donald Trump and Putin, the group continued to honor its history of fighting against the patriarchy. But this time around, they had another goal in mind as they put together a protest that shut down Trump Tower for half an hour.

During the protest, the group wore their makeshift balaclavas as they unfurled a banner demanding for the release of Ukrainian film director Oleg Sentsov and anarchist Olexandr Kolchenko, who are locked away in Russian prisons.

The group said it wanted the world to focus their attention on the fact that Russia has yet to release its political prisoners and that the media has been focusing instead on too many unimportant things when it should be giving voice to the hopeless.

“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 [bulls***] that people have been focused on,” the group wrote in a Facebook post.

“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."

When announcing their protest, they urged others to question more, ask politicians “who shake hands with Putin” about the situation of political prisoners, and put their own protests together tackling whatever issue they believe isn’t getting enough attention.

According to the group’s Maria Alekhina, who was in jail herself on charges of “hooliganism motivated by religious hatred,” their protest caused the police to close the building for half an hour.

According to his supporters, Sentsov, who was sentenced to 20 years over terrorism charges, had his charges inflated because he was openly criticizing the Russian government for its actions in Crimea.

Kolchenko was sentenced 10 years also over terrorism charges, but continues to claim innocence. He is also a staunch critic of Putin, especially over the Crimea annexation.

Hopefully, the group has been able to get their point across. Perhaps what's more important though is their message of perseverance in the face of authoritarianism.

They have been the victims before and are now speaking against tyranny, reminding us all of what we should be doing here in America to have our grievances addressed.

Banner and thumbnail image credit: Reuters/Maxim Shemetov

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