Public Letter and Demands from a Kemper Museum Employee
Kemper Museum in Kansas City has been targeted by activist groups over their connection to UMB Bank. Several UMB Bank officials sit on the Board of the Kemper Museum.
UMB Bank represents the bondholders of the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island. After the Facility agreed to end their contract with I.C.E., UMB successfully sued to force the Facility to continue to hold people detained by I.C.E.
This letter, from an anonymous Kemper Museum employee was received by FANG on September 10, 2019.
Since August 15th, I have not felt comfortable or safe at work due to ongoing efforts made by the museum board, executive staff members, and administration staff to diminish and inaccurately report to the public and to the museum staff of The Kemper Museum’s connections to UMB Bank after reports of UMB Banks affiliations with the Wyatt Detention Facility in Central Falls, Rhode Island surfaced.
In order to understand how UMB Bank and The Kemper Museum are connected one only has to look at The Kemper Family Foundation. The Kemper Family Foundation is administered by UMB Bank. UMB Bank transfers monies to the Kemper Family Foundation and then on to the Kemper Museum. The Kemper Museum’s majority donor is the Kemper Family Foundation, of which UMB Bank has made donations to.
The Kemper Family Foundation gives money to every major arts organization in Kansas City, has ties politically, and has deep connections to art collectors who donate or borrow works to the museum on a vast scale.
The executive director Sean, and the communications director Breeze have done everything they possibly can to convince workers that the degree to which the museum is affiliated to the bank is so vast that there is no possible link. They have also done everything they can to gaslight us into believing that we too are linked to wrongdoings made by the federal government by “having bank accounts”, or “being taxpayers”. The “all staff” meetings amongst various departments; private one on ones conducted by Sean, Breeze, and members of management; the little outreach the museum has done with the general public; inaccurately reporting phone calls and emails made by the public; and privately contacting members of protestors or activists to have “open-dialogue” sessions at the museum; are in no way earnest or for good but rather tactics to sway private and public opinion in the museums favor. Not to mention that these tactics are commonly used by union busters.
I do not trust that the museum will make any effort to publicly or privately change course in it’s stance on immigration, make clear it’s stance on white nationalism, or break it’s connection to UMB Bank. The open dialogue sessions within the museum will be utilized in order to control conversations had with people from the general public. I fully believe that there will be no effort made to state facts about the Wyatt Detention facility’s bonds through UMB Bank, UMB’s ongoing legal suit against Central Falls, nor any specific mention of UMB’s affiliation with ICE during upcoming museum open dialogues. Every effort will be made by the museum to deter these topics and shift conversations to a broader scope.
With grants in hand, the museum will hide under the veil of being an environment of trust and openness while continuing its back door policies through it’s familial foundation, connected to a family founded bank, which will continue to profit off of the detainment of immigrants, family separation, and the ongoing crisis at the border.
Demands of workers have been made clear during all staff meetings. Here is a general report on various demands that staff have verbalized in these meetings. Demands are listed in no particular order.
- Mariner Kemper step down from the board of the museum and that no current or former UMB Bank employees stand on the board at the museum.
- A public statement issued by The Kemper Museum stating, “The Kemper Museum does not condone the detainment of immigrants”; and an additional public statement issued by The Kemper Museum clarifying the museums stance on white nationalism.
- An end to continued last minute “all-staff” meetings in which staff have been interrupted during working hours, mealtimes, and breaks where staff have been subjected to political/financial/philanthropic jargon leading to emotional and psychological strain within the workplace.
- A direct action taken by the museums Executive Director Sean O’Harrow and Chairperson Mary Kemper Wolf to speak with protesters in person if protestors are on the grounds of the museum.
- UMB bank halt it’s legal actions toward the city of Central Falls, Rhode Island, and that any financial recourse incurred be absolved by UMB Bank itself.
- An accurate report of all phone calls and emails made by the public concerning these matters that includes the date and time.
- A report of all news articles written about the Wyatt Detention Facility to be generated and continuously updated by administrative staff that is shared with all staff members for the foreseeable future.
- A list of specific “open dialogue” actions the museum is pursuing with artists and activists in the community, a timeline of these events, and notations on how and why each moderator will be chosen.
- Accurate meeting notes from all “all staff” meetings compiled and shared amongst the entire staff of the museum.
There is no time to wait. Eliminar la frontera.