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General News    H4'ed 6/19/16

Who Uses Puppets for Political Protest? Meet Elliot Crown

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We began to pose together out of mutual admiration, and finally teamed up one day. We suited up for "Christmas Cancelled" just before Christmas to join the City Hall COP-21 press conference. The message I wanted to convey was that climate change has arrived, cannot be ignored, and will intrude into everyday life. It had many of the elements I look for: recognizable characters, bright colors, humor, drama, and it was timely. Activist and friend Roland Marconi, a professional videographer/photographer and refugee from corporate media, got this great shot. Global media grabbed it, though I'm not sure what readers of the Malay Mail made of it.

Liberty/Skull holds book entitled 'Vote Hacking for Dummies'
Liberty/Skull holds book entitled 'Vote Hacking for Dummies'
(Image by Roland Marconi)
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JB: So, maybe one could say that protest art is a sort of guerilla art, as Robert Greenwald, of Brave New Films, is a guerilla filmmaker. That makes perfect sense to me, actually. How about one more puppet, please?

EC: Sure. Liberty/Skull was meant to evoke America's failed promise and decline. I made her for the 2010 Village Halloween Parade. She pulled a guillotine trailed by four headless characters carrying signs: "Fox News Exec," "Health Care Exec," "Wall Street Exec" and "The Wrong Guy." It was the year before Occupy, and we got a lot of blank stares - until pouring rain melted everything! Since then I've worn this mask at protests over the murder of Freddie Gray and NSA spying, with photos in the HuffPo and Guardian. Paired with a sign reading, "WARmerica" she was Reuters #1 global Picture of the Day on the eve of the Syrian war, and she turned up again recently in a Vice Snowden interview holding a crossed out "Liberty" sign! Now I'm hoping this outrageous Vote Hacking image proves irresistible to photographers, since reporting computer vote fraud is forbidden to the mainstream press.

JB: On another front, I understand that your activism extends to recently speaking before the NY Board of Elections. What was all that about and how did it go?

EC: An unexpected thing happened! After NY's election fiasco, I went downtown to a BOE hearing, held up a black box representing the proprietary software that hides vote counting, and said "these computers are stealing votes." Four versions were posted and the rant went viral, 425,000 hits and climbing. Now people ask if I'm "that guy," and there's no mask to hide behind! Experts are contacting ME, but my expertise is limited to knowing how to read, and I just read them. Like your Jonathan Simon interview.

Exit polling is never off by more than a couple of percentage points, but in NY State it was off 11.8%, in Alabama by 14%. Impossible. Across the country, the computer results are being flipped to favor Hillary. If exit polling is faulty, then someone please explain why it's only off on the Democratic side but the Republican results match perfectly. Bernie won the nomination in reality, if reality matters any more!

JB: What a concept! And I'm quite sure Hillary and friends would not agree with your assessment.

EC: We'd probably get one of her big, staged laughs.

Honestly, I'm not concerned with originality. If a puppet or sign is effective, I'll recycle it. I repeatedly paired a big "TRUMP Make America Hate Again" sign - not an original idea, with Marni in costume and different puppets at five NYC Trump protests. It got the NY Post, NY Times, Daily News, HuffPo, Yahoo, etc. and travelled to Belfast, Toronto, and FOX Las Vegas! Images out there get recycled too. We turned up on Slate last week.

JB: I always knew recycling was good but this is a new twist and I like it! What else would you like to talk about before we wrap this up?

EC: I've been thinking... everyone loves polar bears. I bet donning a decent polar bear costume and holding just about ANY sign - "Freeze the TPP" or "Free Healthcare is Cool," or "We're ALL on Thin Ice!" - would get covered. I may do it!

JB: Good point. You definitely should! I look forward to seeing what you have up your sleeve in the days to come.

EC: Really enjoyed this, thank you! And, if a skywriter appears over Philadelphia during the Democratic Convention with the message, "Hillary the FBI" don't be surprised.

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Joan Brunwasser is a co-founder of Citizens for Election Reform (CER) which since 2005 existed for the sole purpose of raising the public awareness of the critical need for election reform. Our goal: to restore fair, accurate, transparent, secure elections where votes are cast in private and counted in public. Because the problems with electronic (computerized) voting systems include a lack of (more...)

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