Seattle's Wing Luke Museum still shut down after staff walkout over exhibit

A Seattle-based museum is temporarily closed after employees accused its "Confronting Hate Together" exhibit of inadvertently supporting Israel.

The striking Wing Luke Museum (WLM) employees, who organized under the handle @wlm4palestine on Instagram, say the exhibit "conflate[s] anti-Zionism as antisemitism." The museum describes the exhibit as exploring "anti-Asian American, Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander hate, Black hate and anti-Jewish hate."

The strike is made up of more than 20 employees who walked out on Wednesday, which was the day that the exhibit opened. The strikers are a mix of full-time staff members and part-time employees.

"A majority of our walkout collective is made up of the most vulnerable employees of the Wing Luke Museum — front of house staff and part-time workers," a post from @wlm4palestine reads. "There are 22 known WLM Staff across departments and organization levels who are still in solidarity with walkouts, with others who are in solidarity.

Among the employees' demands are for the museum to remove "any language … that attempt[s] to frame Palestinian liberation and anti-Zionism as antisemitism." The anti-Israel protesters also ask for the museum to "acknowledge the limited perspectives presented in this exhibition."

"Missing perspectives include those of Palestinians, Arabs, and Muslim communities who are also experiencing an increased amount of violence, scapegoating, and demonization as Zionist forces continue the genocide in Palestine," the petition states.

The striking employees also set up a GoFundMe campaign to compensate for missed wages. The campaign has raised $3,939 as of Sunday afternoon.

"As we are withholding labor, we potentially will not be compensated," the campaign states. "These funds would provide financial relief so that we can pay rent, utilities, food, medical bills, and other living expenses here in Seattle. Funds will also assist staff efforts of this walkout (needs, supplies, sustenance)."

In response to the strikes, the Wing Luke Museum issued a sympathetic statement about the strikers, calling the walk-out "respectful."

"As an organization rooted in dialogue, we acknowledge and support the right of our staff to express their beliefs and personal truths and to this end, we are holding space for a careful and thoughtful process of listening with intent to hear multiple perspectives in pursuit of a mutual way forward," the Facebook statement reads.

The museum's support of the protests was met with some criticism in its Facebook post's comments section.

"I’m so disappointed by the Wing Luke and its staff for making life less safe and more isolated for Jewish communities. As Asians, we know the pain of that isolation all too well," one commenter said.

"Why does one opinion get to dictate to everyone else what is OK or not OK?" another Facebook user wrote. "It seems to me that those walking out are showing why we need more exhibits like this, and more education in general. It's fine to disagree and have dialog, but to state your demands as if they are facts for the rest of us to accept goes to (sic) far," another wrote.

The museum told FOX 13 Seattle that it expects to reopen on Wednesday. 

This is a developing story; check back for updates.


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